MINNESOTA: Five Days and Counting

Indiana needs two more wins to become bowl eligible, and it will have a great chance to pick up win No. 5 Saturday against 1-4 Minnesota. HoosierNation.com begins its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with "Five Numbers to Note"...

13 – years since Indiana opened a football season 5-1, something Coach Bill Lynch's squad will have a chance to do Saturday when it takes on Minnesota at Noon at Memorial Stadium. In 1994, the Hoosiers knocked off Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) and Kentucky in the preseason before falling to Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener. Ironically, Bill Mallory's '94 team then beat Minnesota at home and Iowa on the road to start the season 5-1, and IU can follow a virtually identical route to a 5-1 start this season. If it does happen, it will mark just the fifth time Indiana has started a year 5-1 or better since the 1967 Rose Bowl team – 1987, 1988, 1993 and 1994. Each of those teams finished with winning records, and three went to bowl games (1987 – Peach, 1988 – Liberty, 1993 – Independence). The 1994 squad dropped four straight after its 5-1 start, finished the season 6-5, and missed out on a postseason berth.

368.0 – passing yards/game Minnesota's defense is giving up, the worst in Division I football. The Gophers' foes have completed 62.5 percent of their throws for 1,840 yards and 16 touchdowns against only three interceptions. That inability to stop the pass has been the biggest problem for Coach Tim Brewster's defense, which ranks 117th out of 119 Division I teams in total defense (528.6 yards/game) and has given up at least 30 points in all five of its games. It started in week one when Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan threw for 388 yards in BG's 32-31 overtime win, and it's continued ever since. A pair of Miami (Ohio) quarterbacks combined for more than 400 yards in week two; Florida Atlantic's Rusty Smith threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns in week three; and Purdue's Curtis Painter threw for 338 yards and three scores in week four. Ohio State was the only team to not throw for at least 330 yards, as Todd Broeckman completed 18-of-29 passes for 209 yards and two scores in OSU's 30-7 win Saturday.

-13 – Minnesota's turnover differential. Certainly the team's inability to stop anyone on defense has played a big part in the Gophers' 1-4 start, but the turnovers have been just as critical. No matter what the category, Minnesota has been woeful when it comes to turnovers. In the Big Ten, the Gophers rank 11th in interceptions (10) and 10th in fumbles (8). When it comes to takeaways, they rank 10th in fumbles recovered (2) and tied for ninth in interceptions (3). By contrast, Indiana is in the three-way tie with Iowa and Michigan for the conference lead in turnover margin with a +5. The Hoosiers have lost five fumbles and five interceptions while recovering seven fumbles and picking off eight passes.

3 –sacks for the Minnesota defense. That's not for one individual, but for the Gophers as a team. A year ago the Gophers had one of the top pass rushers in the league in Willie VanDeSteeg, who ranked among the league leaders with 10 sacks. But he's gone without a sack in the Gophers' first four games, and no one else has surfaced as a legitimate pass rushing threat. Only two of Minnesota's three sacks have come from defensive linemen, and Minnesota is easily the worst in the Big Ten in getting after the quarterback. Compare that to Indiana, which leads the nation with 27 sacks in its first five games. The Hoosiers have three players who have single-handedly either exceeded or equaled Minnesota's team total for sacks – Greg Middleton (7.5), Jammie Kirlew (4.5) and Ryan Marando (3).

63 – points the Hoosiers gave up to Minnesota a year ago. Last season Indiana went into Minneapolis sporting a 5-4 record and were in search of a win over the Gophers, who were then 3-6 and 0-5 in the Big Ten. But the Gophers scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions to jump to a 35-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Minnesota quarterback Bryan Cupito threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns and Minnesota piled up 541 yards of total offense in the win, which started IU's season-ending three-game losing streak that kept them out of the postseason.The last time an IU team had yielded more than 63 points in a game was on Sept. 30, 1978, when Nebraska ripped the Hoosiers 69-17 in Bloomington.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

Peegs.com Top Stories