Date: Saturday, October 15
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m.
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
Network: ABC/ESPN 2
The No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers are coming off a bye week and will travel to Bloomington to take on Indiana (3-2, 1-1) in their homecoming game. The Huskers found themselves a bye week at the perfect time in the season after losing more than a handful of guys to injuries in their last game against Illinois.
Indiana has shown that they are no longer a sleeper in the Big Ten, but rather a team that needs to be taken seriously each week by their opponent. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley stressed the amount of talent this Hoosier squad packs into their arsenal.
“We are going to play a good football team. I think they’re a team that’s playing with confidence,” Riley said. “They are productive offensively. They present a lot of problems, play hard defensively. They really feel their team and their program rising. You can see that in their play. They play hard, and offensively they have a good well-rounded attack”
Indiana has an endless amount of weapons offensively, and it starts with their junior quarterback Richard Lagow. Lagow’s decision-making skills and accurate passes have him sitting at a 60 percent completion percentage. The junior has also connected on 11 touchdown passes to a variety of talented wide receivers.
Nick Westbrook is the Hoosiers’ best option in their talented receiver group. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore has snagged 20 receptions on the year, four of which are touchdowns. Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker credits that the success of Indiana’s passing game actually stems from the Hoosiers establishing a menacing ground attack.
"They are number one yardage wise in our conference throwing the ball, but at the same time this team wants to run the ball," Banker said. "I truly believe their success in throwing the ball has come because of the fact that they've done some damage in running the ball in the early part of the season. It's helped them out in that passing game.”
Devine Redding is Indiana’s star back and he is averaging almost five yards a carry on his 491 yards this season. The Hoosiers also like to mix in their bruiser back Tyler Natee in their rushing attack. The 6’1”, 260-pound freshman is used for short-yardage situations and has already found the end zone once this year. Nebraska senior defensive end Ross Dzuris and the rest of the blackshirts are well aware of the Hoosiers’ versatility on the offensive side of the ball.
“They are a real good group, well-coached on offense, pretty good experienced offensive line,” Dzuris said. “They have three running backs or so that they use. They are all good runners. They have good wide receiver corps and they have been playing pretty well on offense, so a lot of challenges.”
Indiana faces a well-rested Blackshirt squad that is fifteenth in the country in points against. The Hoosiers, averaging just 26 points a game, will look to score with a lot of play-action calls. Indiana is known to keep a running back or tight end as an extra blocker, but could still have trouble throwing into a dangerous secondary led by Nate Gerry and Kieron Williams. The two safeties have combined for 62 tackles and four interceptions on the year. Corners Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones have also been exceptional in their play, collectively bringing in 35 tackles and three more interceptions to the stat book.
The Huskers will be missing some key players on the offensive side of the ball in Jordan Westerkamp, Cethan Carter, and most likely Devine Ozigbo. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. has carried the load offensively for Nebraska this season, but this week will be an even bigger test to his skillset since he is missing vital weapons. As if missing pieces to the offense wasn’t enough pressure to put on the senior from Texas, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf noted that the Hoosiers will bring a variety of looks from their defense.
"A lot of pressure and lot of good disguised coverages, I think that is what they do well." Langsdorf said. "They give you a lot of change-ups. They don't just line up and stand there. They move around, which makes it hard on the quarterback."
Dating back to 1936, Indiana holds the series record over Nebraska with a 9-7-3 record overall. This will be the teams’ first meeting in the Big Ten, and also the first time Nebraska head coach Mike Riley will square off against Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson.
What A Win Means For Nebraska:
A Nebraska win would continue to pave their way into an undefeated season. The Huskers would improve to 6-0 and 3-0 in the Big Ten, and would continue to be the leaders in the Big Ten West. If Nebraska wants a shot to make the Big Ten championship game, they have to win this game to remain undefeated before heading to Madison, Wisconsin.
What A Win Means For Indiana:
A win for the Hoosiers would be their second win this season against a ranked opponent. Since taking over in 2011, Wilson has slowly progressed in each season, with last year being his best finish at 6-7. By beating the No. 10 Huskers, Wilson would prove that he was the right hire for the job, and that Indiana football is heading into the right direction towards becoming a legitimate threat in the Big Ten.
Nebraska Players To Watch On Offense:
http://www.scout.com/player/141899-tommy-armstrong The senior quarterback has shown his toughness this season so far as he has played through injuries against Oregon and Illinois. Armstrong has been Nebraska’s biggest factor on offense in terms of efficiency and scoring. I may sound like a broken record, but the Texas native has been responsible for 14 touchdowns this season and has only thrown two interceptions through five games. Comparing to his 16 interceptions he through last season, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is playing both smarter and more efficient this year, completing on nearly 59% of his passes. If Armstrong can stay away from turnovers this week, the Huskers should have no problem putting points on the board.
http://www.scout.com/player/164650-terrell-newby Newby had his best game of the year last game against Illinois - in a time where his team needed him the most. The Huskers had multiple guys get banged up offensively and were struggling for most of the game. The senior back finished their last matchup with 140 yards total, and recorded two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His 63-yard score with 2:03 left in the game sealed the deal for both the Huskers, as well as his starting role for the team. With his backup Devine Ozigbo most likely out for this week, the California native will handle most of the work load in the rushing game. This week is a chance for the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder to continue his momentum and excel as Nebraska’s number one guy in the backfield.
http://www.scout.com/player/146610-alonzo-moore The senior wide out is coming off a two-week resting period to heal his shoulder injury. Moore has not played a snap since the first half of the Northwestern game on September 24th, but should have the green light against the Hoosiers. The Louisiana native has found his identity as Nebraska’s deep-threat, recording three catches of 50 or more yards, one of which being a 63-yard touchdown. The 6’2”, 195-pounder has also caught the ball 12 times and has found the end zone twice in just three and a half games. With Westerkamp and Carter out for this week, Moore could become Armstrong’s number one target, and could have his biggest game of the season.
Nebraska Players To Watch On Defense:
http://www.scout.com/player/161640-josh-banderas The senior linebacker has been relatively quiet this season, and for some Husker fans, a bit disappointing. Through five games, Banderas has recorded 19 tackles, but only one for a loss. The fourth captain of this Husker squad also undoubtedly had his worst game of the year against Illinois, where he recorded just one tackle in four quarters. The following game could be a turning point for the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Nebraska native, where he could have a big game to swing some momentum back into his shoes. Indiana is a run-heavy team, so Banderas could have a career-high game if he plays his cards right.
http://www.scout.com/player/167966-nathan-gerry The senior captain is on track to having perhaps his best season at Nebraska, and his numbers certainly can show for it. Through just four games, the Sioux Falls native already has 29 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions. Gerry has shown each game why he was elected captain, as it is apparent that when he is on the field, he is the glue that holds the Blackshirts together. Look for the 6-foot-2, 220-pound safety to not only be constantly involved in the passing game, but watch to see how many times he stops the run after just a few yards passed the line of scrimmage.
http://www.scout.com/player/181292-chris-jones Chris Jones is slowly becoming Nebraska’s best all-around player on defense. The junior corner has four pass breakups, two interceptions and 13 tackles, one of which being a sack. Simply put, the Florida native has been all around the field and has done a little bit of everything. Indiana has three solid wide receivers on their squad and Jones will obviously cover one. Look for the corner to shut down one of the Hoosier’s offensive weapons, and to have his name called more than once. There have been talks of the 6-foot, 185-pounder heading to the NFL early after this season, and if he keeps up his involvement on defense, he could be an early pick.
Reasons To Be Concerned:
http://www.scout.com/college/nebraska/story/1716557-5-questions-nebraska... A “trap game” is loosely defined as a game in which a team believes they face an easy opponent and will not fully prepare for said opponent. I do not believe this game is a trap game. Before the season started, I marked this game as concerning for Nebraska, and as this season has progressed, my belief that this Indiana team is a legit opponent has only grown. Their 3-2 record does not reflect on how well they have done this season. After beating a ranked Michigan State and holding their own against No. 2 Ohio State, the Hoosiers will host a banged up Nebraska squad for their homecoming game. This could be their best chance to beat a team in the top 10 this year, and they will be sure to go all in for this matchup.
Injury Report For Nebraska:
QB) Tommy Armstrong Jr. (foot) Probable
The senior quarterback banged up his foot in their Illinois game. He was put in a boot as a precautionary action and should be ready to go against the Hoosiers.
WR) Jordan Westerkamp (back) Doubtful
Westerkamp went down in the second half against Illinois when he was hit in the back by a defender as his body was at full extension to make a grab. The senior caption was sent to the hospital for more tests and will likely sit out this game against Indiana. Head coach Mike Riley stated that he could return next game.
TE) Cethan Carter (elbow) Doubtful
Carter went down early in the first quarter against Illinois two weeks ago. He ended up going to the locker room and returned in street clothes for the remainder of the game. It appears as if the senior tight end and Westerkamp are on the same timetable of missing this week’s game but returning for the next.
WR) Alonzo Moore (shoulder) Probable
Moore’s shoulder injury this season was at it’s worst against Northwestern on September 24th. The senior wide out played the first half against the Wildcats but sat out the second half, as well as the entirety of the Illinois game the following week. After weeks of rest, the Louisiana native should be good to go against the Hoosiers.
G) Tanner Farmer (ankle) Probable
The sophomore guard went down with a high ankle sprain in the second half in their game against Northwestern. Farmer sat out the Illinois game and had the bye week to recover, and will likely get the start this week.
OT) David Knevel (ankle) Probable
Knevel was banged up in the game against Illinois two weeks ago, and was eventually taken out of the game. With a week off, it looks as if the junior tackle should return to the field this week.
RB) Devine Ozigbo (ankle) Doubtful
Ozigbo joined the club of the many Huskers who got injured in their last game against Illinois. The sophomore from Texas did not practice over the weekend and will likely not play this week.
Quote To Note:
“If you really want to be a good team, you have to get better as the season goes. You have to not only feel it, but see it on the field in some of those areas that we have been inconsistent in. So those are areas that we still have to get better on. Then as that happens, the competition will be better. So it’s almost a necessity that that will happen. And if you want to get to where you want to be at the end, then that really has to happen. So what sets the table is the fact that we have to not pay too much attention to the noise out there about rankings, and just focus on our team and getting better each week to play our best game.” – Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley
A trip to Bloomington to face a good Indiana team is a great chance for Nebraska to prove their worthiness of a top ten ranking by blowing out the Hoosiers. However, this will not be the case. After watching Indiana go toe-to-toe against No. 2 Ohio State last week, this could be a battle-till-the-end type of game where one team emerges late, and that team will be Nebraska. With a lot of banged up and injured players, Nebraska will struggle on offense, or at least for the first half. They are also playing a defense similar to Northwestern in the sense that they won’t make too many mistakes and are fundamentally sound. This game will be close until the 4th quarter, but with Nebraska outscoring their opponents 78-6 this year in the final quarter, Nebraska will emerge. The Huskers will win by two scores, but won’t pull away until late in the game.