N'WESTERN: Five Days and Counting

Indiana has a challenging assignment this weekend when it hosts No. 22 Northwestern (6-1/2-1) for Homecoming. HoosierNation.com kicks off its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with "Five Numbers to Note" about the contest…

17.9 – points per game surrendered by the Northwestern defense, ranking the Wildcats fourth in the Big Ten. That's easily the biggest change in this year's team versus some of the recent squads. One has to go back to 1998 to find the last time Northwestern surrendered less than 25 points per game (24.3), and the Wildcats had given up an average of 30 or more in five of the past eight seasons. That includes just one year ago, when they gave up 31.0 points per game to rank 10th in the Big Ten.

9 – interceptions thrown by Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher, tying him with Purdue's Matt Painter for the most among Big Ten quarterbacks. Bacher only threw one interception in Northwestern's first three games, but has he's had eight in the last four. That includes a four interception game against Ohio as well as two in the loss to Michigan State two weeks ago. That could be good news for an IU defense that has a Big Ten-worst one interception all season. Indiana led the Big Ten a season ago with 19 interceptions, helping it rank second in the Big Ten in turnover margin. But thanks to just one pick this year, IU is currently ninth in the conference in turnover margin (-5).

47.3 – Northwestern's conversion percentage on third downs this season (53-of-112), which ranks second in the Big Ten. Compare that to Indiana, which ranks tenth in the Big Ten on third downs (27-of-95). The Hoosiers are even worse in the category in conference play, converting just 12-of-54 3rd down attempts (22.2%) to rank last in the conference. Third down success was a big reason why Northwestern topped the Hoosiers a year ago in Evanston. The Wildcats converted 12-of-17 third downs in the game, including a 3-for-3 effort on its final touchdown drive that gave them a 31-28 win.

10.0 – average yards/catch for Northwestern's receivers. The Wildcats' spread attack relies on plenty of short underneath routes, as evidenced by their yards/catch average. In seven games Northwestern's offense has produced only 11 pass plays of 20 or more yards, and only three of those have gone for 30 or more yards. Instead of trying to stretch the field vertically, Bacher and his receivers will look to dink and dunk all afternoon in an effort to move the chains. With that in mind, expect to see one of two things – either IU's corners will be in more one-on-one situations, or IU's safeties will be able to cheat down toward the box in an effort to tighten up the zone coverages. If the Hoosiers don't do one of those two things, Bacher will find the holes against a soft zone.

213 – all-purpose yards amassed by Northwestern senior tailback Tyrell Sutton in last season's match-up with Indiana, the fourth-best total of his career. A lower leg injury kept Sutton sidelined for a good portion of the 2007 season, but he ran for a season-high 141 yards and added 72 yards receiving in Northwestern's 31-28 win in Evanston. Sutton has been one of the big reasons why Northwestern is off to a 6-1 start this season, as he ranks fifth in the Big Ten in rushing (99.9 yards/game) and he has been getting more involved in the passing game since conference play opened. In the Wildcats' three Big Ten games, Sutton has caught 16 passes for 178 yards.

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


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