MINNESOTA: One Day and Counting

When Indiana (4-1/1-1) squares off with Minnesota (1-4/0-2) Saturday, it will be a match-up of two of the top young quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Who will have the upper hand? HoosierNation.com makes its pick for Saturday's contest...

Bloomington, Ind. – Points figure to be plentiful Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

On one hand you've got Kellen Lewis and the Hoosier offense, a unit that is averaging 37.0 points/game and nearly 445 yards. In Lewis the Hoosiers have the Big Ten's leader in total offense (320.0/game) and someone who ranks in the top 10 in both passing yardage (4th) and rushing yardage (10th) in the conference. His 17 touchdowns, meanwhile ranks second to Purdue's Curtis Painter (18).

But don't let Minnesota's 1-4 mark fool you - Coach Tim Brewster boasts a formidable offense as well. The Gophers rank third in the Big Ten in total offense with 445 yards/game and they've scored at least 30 points in four of five games. Quarterback Adam Weber ranks third in the conference in total offense (306.2 yards/game) while tailback Amir Pinnix averages nearly 90 yards rushing/game, a total that would be much higher if it wasn't for a four-carry, four-yard effort last week against Ohio State.

Ultimately, this is a match-up of two dual-threat quarterbacks who are critical to their respective teams' success. No player in the league has his hand in more offense plays than Weber. Minnesota has run 401 offensive plays this season, and 68.6 percent of those snaps have resulted in either a Weber pass or run. Lewis, meanwhile, accounts for 58.1 percent of IU's offensive snaps, a percentage that ranks second to Weber's total.

Both coaches know how important their signal callers are to their success.

"We look at what we're doing offensively, and the quarterback run is part of what we do," Brewster said about Weber, who averages 13 rushes per game. "That's our style of offense, and remember it puts tremendous strain on the defense when they have to account for a quarterback that can run the football."

When it comes to accounting for a quarterback who can run the ball, few in college football do it any better than Lewis. He averaging 74.4 yards rushing per game to go along with his 245.6 yards passing per contest. His rushing average ranks sixth among quarterbacks in I-A, and his 5.9 yards/carry ranks second among quarterbacks, trailing only Texas A&M's Stephen McGee.

"He is obviously a talented young guy and a very good quarterback that has matured since his first start," said IU Coach Bill Lynch.

These are two very good young quarterbacks who figure to have productive afternoons. Both have explosive playmakers to throw the ball to, and each has an offensive line that has managed to keep them on their feet.

But barring a wave of IU turnovers, the fact that Indiana's defense has been much more reliable should give Lynch's team the edge. While Indiana ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (21.0/game) and sixth in total defense (348.8), Minnesota's defense has been picked to pieces by every foe it's faced. The Gophers rank in the bottom five in all of college football in total defense (117th out of 119 programs), pass defense (119th), sacks (116th) and turnover margin (118th). That's a recipe for disaster against an IU offense that has produced at least 395 yards of offense in all five of its games and has scored at least 35 points in four of its five games.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Indiana 38, Minnesota 27

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

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