Folks, these are not DiNardo's Hoosiers. Well, that is not exactly true. Most of the starters were recruited by DiNardo, but he is no longer the head coach. Terry Hoeppner returns to Kinnick Stadium where he is 0-2 as a head coach, twice falling to Iowa when he was the head man for Miami of Ohio. The last time he was in Iowa City was for Miami's lone loss of Ben Roethlisberger's senior season in 2003. In fact, that is the last time that Big Ben has lost a regular season football game as a starter.
It all starts up front where the Hoosiers are very veteran along the offensive line. It also helps to have one of the nation's top receivers in James Hardy, a player who would be a first team all conference selection if the ballots were cast today. His 108.2 receiving yards per game is 10th best in America. He is also 6-foot-7 with speed, factors that will create some definite mismatch opportunities for the Hoosiers. Combine that with Iowa starting two ‘new' players in the secondary on Saturday, and you have an interesting area to focus on.
Being that Indiana has some experience up front leads one to believe that they might also be able to run the ball. Their 171-plus rushing yards per game is 39th best in the nation. Chris Taylor and Yamar Washington spearhead the Hoosiers' two-headed attack. Indiana is 42nd in total offense in the country, while Iowa is 41st.
Indiana is last in the league in red zone offense however, converting 17 of 24 red zone attempts into points.
DECENT ON DEFENSE…
Indiana is allowing 173.6 rushing yards per game, 88th ‘best' in the nation. To compare, Iowa is allowing 145.33 per game. Both teams played a couple of very soft out of conference opponents, including one D1-AA foe. Indiana played Nichols State while Iowa played Northern Iowa. Indiana also played Central Michigan and Kentucky out of conference, winning both games. The Hoosiers are a respectable 44th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Indiana has the 27th best pass defense in the nation, but when teams can run, that stat can be misleading. Always focus on pass efficiency defense when assessing that area of a defense.
Indiana's red zone defense is second in the Big Ten behind Iowa, allowing 10 of 14 red zone conversions on the year. Iowa has allowed 10 of 17 conversions into points.
OTHER AREA'S OF NOTE
Indiana is 62nd in net punting average while Iowa is 10th, a stat that soft out of conference schedules does not typically affect when you are not performing well. Their net punting average is less than 34 yards per game, so this could be an area where Iowa can exact some yardage.
The Hoosiers are 12th in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging better than 26 yards per return. Iowa is allowing just 14.60 yards per kickoff return, good for 6th best in the nation.
BRIAN FINLEY'S PREDICTION: It's Iowa. It's Indiana. It's a better Indiana, but it's still Indiana. Look for Iowa to push the passing game a bit more, giving Herb Grigsby and Matt Melloy a chance to adjust to their new offensive roles. Albert Young tops the 100 yard mark for the 4th time this year, Iowa shuts down the engines in the 4th quarter. Iowa 35 Indiana 9. Useless Fact: Indiana and Iowa have played once before on October 15th, a 35-9 Iowa win, 1949 in Iowa City.
ROB HOWE'S PREDICTION: Indiana appears to be much improved over recent Hoosier editions, but winning in Kinnick will be a tall task. Iowa has made a habit of stomping teams it should be at home over the last three plus years, and you shouldn't expect anything different on Saturday. The Hawkeyes seem to be hitting their stride as they usually do this time of year, making big strides on both sides of the ball at Purdue. Look for the Iowa defense to take another big step this week against a formidable Indiana attack. Bring on Michigan: Iowa 38, Indiana 13.
JON MILLER'S PREDICTION: I was glad to have been proven long last week, making that two misses for the year and pushing my five year loss total up to eight. I feel pretty good about picking Iowa this week, but I do think that Indiana is going to get their yards between the 20's. Hardy is a dangerous force and Iowa is going to have to keep him in front of them. Make no mistake about it: this will be a good test for Iowa's defense. On the other side of things, I look for Iowa to keep running their basic ‘spread' formations. For Iowa, that means two wide's and a tight end in the slot, with another tight end on the LOS or lined up as an ‘H', with Albert Young alone in the backfield. Iowa 34, Indiana 21.