Iowa CITY, Iowa - Iowa fans, enjoy the homecoming festivities. Whoop it up at the parade. Catch up at the tailgate.
And don't expect a good game…unless you like to see Iowa blowout an opponent. Heck, maybe that's the best kind of homecoming.
The Hawkeyes would have to play unbelievably bad to lose this game to rebuilding Indiana. And then, the Hoosiers will would need to play above their heads.
No disrespect to Indiana, but it's a rebuilding project for first-year head coach Kevin Wilson. Sixteen true freshmen are playing.
Put another way? Indiana can become the first Big Ten team eliminated from bowl eligibility this season with a loss against he Hawkeyes. IIt's the Hoosiers eighth game.
TELEVISION: The game will be televised to a national audience by the BTN. The announcers are Eric Collins, Chris Martin and sideline reporter Dionne Miller.
RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. Indiana is 1-6 and 0-3.
HISTORY: Iowa leads the all-time series by a 41-27-4 margin. Iowa has won the last three and six of the last eight in the series. Iowa won last year's game (18-13) in Bloomington. Indiana's last win in the series came in 2007 (38-20) in Iowa City. Iowa leads the series, 22-10-3, in games played at Iowa City.
THE LINE: Caesar's in Vegas installed Iowa has a 23-point favorite to open on Monday. It creeped to 23.5 an hour later and has held.
First thought: That's a lot of points considering the inconsistent nature of Iowa's defense. There also are injuries on that side of the ball.
Indiana is a Big Ten team (barely) and the Hoosiers have given Iowa troubles during the Kirk Ferentz Era. That should probably be the only thing that gives people pausing in wanting to take the Hawkeyes.
I'd give the 23.5 in this game. Iowa could have a letdown after an emotional win against Northwestern last week, but I'm just not sure it will matter.
I also like the game to go over the 54.5-point number. Looks like mid-60s and partly sunny on Saturday, so weather should not come into play.
Here are a some interesting trends:
-Hawkeyes are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
-Hawkeyes are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 home games.
-Hawkeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a home favorite.
-Hawkeyes are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
-Hawkeyes are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win.
-Hoosiers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a road underdog of 10.5 or greater.
-Hoosiers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater.
-Hoosiers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a road underdog.
-Hoosiers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
Indiana KR Shane Wynn vs. Iowa Kick Coverage - For the Hoosiers to win on Saturday, they're going to have to hold in advantage in turnovers and special teams play. The latter is a strength of their team.
Wynn averages 21.5 yards per return, which includes a 99-yarder for a touchdown. Iowa's coverage team looks better the last few weeks than it did earlier in the year, but it's still susceptible to a big play.
Indiana WRs vs. Iowa Secondary - Even with leading receiver Damarlo Belcher out this week, the Hoosiers boast a good group of pass-catchers. It seem like they usually do.
Iowa could struggle to get consistent pressure in Indiana quarterback, Edward Wright-Baker, who can move around back there. If he can prove accurate with his throws, the Hoosiers might move the ball.
Kofu Hughes and Dre Muhammad are capable receivers. The 6-3, 200-pound Duwyce Wilson could cause problems for Iowa's shorter defensive backs.
Iowa RB Marcus Coker vs. Indiana front seven - Indiana is just awful at stopping (or not stopping) the run. The Hoosiers rank 117th among 120 FBS teams, allowing 227.43 yards per game on the ground.
Coker got it rolling with 124 yards and two touchdowns last week against Northwestern. He helped set up play action that proved to be the dagger for the Wildcats.
This really isn't a good match-up for the Hoosiers. And if they stack the box, they have to deal with a powerful Iowa passing attack.
Plan on Coker having a big game and to be in the discussion for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
Indiana- Leon Beckum (probable, knee ), Jarrell Drane (questionable, ankle ), Donnell Jones (questionable, undisclosed ), Mick Mentzer (questionable, knee ), Will Matte (doubtful, knee), Damarlo Belcher (doubtful, knee), Chad Adkins (doubtful, knee).
Iowa - James Morris (probable, ankle), Tom Nardo (probable, ankle), Anthony Hitchens (questionable, leg), Tyler Nielsen (questionable, hand), Nolan MacMillan (out, hernia), Mika'il McCall (leg, out) , Shane Dibona (out for season, achilles), Dakota Getz (out for season, knee).
-Stephen Houston joined the Hoosiers in July from Independence (Kan.) CC. The 228-pound running back appeared in each of the first four games before earning starts in all three of the Hoosiers Big Ten contests.
-Shane Wynn returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Illinois. He became the first true freshman in IU history to collect a kickoff return TD and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
-One of two true freshmen to play in 2010, Kofi Hughes leads the team with an average of 15.8 yards per reception, shares the top spot with two TDs, is second with 252 yards and is tied for second with 16 receptions.
-Kevin Wilson made it no secret that he was not afraid to play true freshmen, and he has certainly lived up to his word by playing 16 this season, tied for the third most in the country (Texas, 18; Auburn 17; Army 16). IU only played eight true freshmen from 2007-10.
-IU has nine fumble recoveries and four interceptions in 2011. The Hoosiers recovered four fumbles with eight interceptions all of last year.
-On the season, opponents have scored touchdowns 14 times in 28 trips to the red zone. The 50 percent mark is tied for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan (46.2).
-The last time Indiana received the production out of the tight end position that Ted Bolser provided last year came back in the early 1990s. Bolser, who is on the 2011 John Mackey Award Watch List, caught 27 passes for 407 yards with five touchdowns and an average of 15.1 yards per reception.
-Iowa holds a 53-41-5 (.561) record in 99 homecoming games. Iowa has won its last two homecoming games, defeating Penn State 24-3 last season and Michigan 30-28 in 2009 after losing its homecoming contest in 2007 and 2008.
-As a team, Iowa is fifth nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (33.3), seventh in net punting (41.2), tied for seventh in red zone offense (95.7%), tied for 10th in red zone defense (69.2%), tied for 12th in fewest penalties per game (4.2), and tied for 21st in fewest turnovers (eight).
-Indiana assistant Doug Mallory played college football at Michigan (1984-87), where he was a teammate of Iowa assistant Erik Campbell.
-Will Peoples, a strength and conditioning assistant at Indiana, served in that same capacity with the Iowa football program in 2006.
-PK Trent Mossbrucker ( Mooresville) is the only Hawkeye player from Indiana. The Indiana roster includes no Iowans.
THE PREDICTION: You've probably picked up on my sense that this isn't going to be much of a ballgame if you've read any of this preview. If you're like me, you skip right to the end for the prediction.
This is a bad Indiana team. It reminds me of the '99 Hawkeyes who went through a harsh rebuilding project in Ferentz's first year as head coach.
We can talk until we're blue in the face about how Indiana has given the Hawkeyes problems during the Ferentz era. It doesn't matter. Wilson is gutting this program. Wins would be nice, but he's realistic.
Iowa should be able to run the ball well and then finish them off with play action. I'm thinking Rocky Balboa body shots followed by the left hook to the head.
IOWA 45, Indiana 20