Last time Minnesota faced off against Indiana, Tim Brewster was in his first year as head coach and the Gophers were amidst a season that would end with just one win. Indiana would win that game 40-20. Both teams are looking to crawl out of the basement of the Big Ten as both Jerry Kill and Kevin Wilson enter their third year at the helm of their respective programs.
The Hoosier Offense:
This is the unit that has performed best under Head Coach Kevin Wilson who was previously the Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma. Last year, Indiana finished 51st in scoring offense despite a 4-8 record. A large part of that offense was QB Cameron Coffman who has now graduated. Filling his shoes will be either Nate Sudfeld or Tre Roberson. Both are sophomores who have some game experience but are still quite green. Roberson is the better runner of the two and Sudfeld is more of a pocket passer. Sudfeld and Roberson will be quite familiar with the RB's as the whole cast returns. Stephen Houston will likely be the starter after leading the Hoosier's last year with 802 yards. Behind Houston are Tevin Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts who are both experienced. The Hoosier offense returns pretty much everyone on the outside as well as they only lose a combined two backups between the WR and TE units. IU has a good mix of size and speed outside and they like to throw the ball a lot. The Hoosiers only lose one starter off the offensive line this year, and like the Gophers, have some talented young lineman and it will be tough to get to the QB though they won't be quite as strong in the run game.
The Hoosier Defense:
The Hoosier defense was bad last year, 104th in the nation in scoring defense bad. The defensive line was a big part of that number as they finished 119th in the nation in rushing defense. Not only was the defensive line bad last year, they lose their two best players as well as a couple of backups. The unit will likely be lucky to match last year's poor performance. One reason for hope on the IU defense is the LB core returns pretty much entirely intact as 7 guys from last years two deep return. Last year the LB unit was hit hard with injuries and provided they stay even a little bit healthier they should be better. Another reason for hope on the IU defense is the secondary is starting to take shape for the first time under Wilson. They only lose a couple of backups and finally have some competition across the board. The secondary was also a relative strength for the defense last year as they finished 61st in the nation in passing yardage allowed.
3 Keys to the Game:
1. Run the ball effectively. This is the strength of the Gopher offense and the weakness of the Hoosier defense, so if the running game can't get going, the Gophers are likely in trouble.
2. Limit the Hoosier passing attack. The strength of the Hoosier offense is also the strength of the Minnesota defense. If the Gophers can force the Hoosiers to turn to the ground game with any regularity, then I like the Gophers chances of stopping the Hoosier ground game as the Hoosiers are on the smaller side up front.
3. Win the turnover battle. Despite the 4-8 record last year for IU they had some close losses to good teams. If the Gophers want to come out with a win, then they can't afford to lose the turnover battle.
While the Hoosier's will once again be improved and their offense is quite formidable, this is a good matchup for the Gophers. Not only is this a good matchup for the Gophers, but they will also be quite motivated for this game as there is a very real shot they will have five wins coming into this game and will be looking to become bowl eligible. Minnesota 38 Indiana 28
Brice Marich also contributed to this report