PJP 2016 Over/Under game – Season-long edition

Courtesy: Hoosier State of Mind

Courtesy: Hoosier State of Mind

A new fall means a new round of PJP’s Over/Under game.

Haven’t played before? It’s easy.

Every week, we’re going to post seven over/under “bets.”  This year we will be tracking picks on the website so please register if you haven’t already.

For the uninitiated, the standard over/under bet is on the total number of points in a game. Basically, a number is set that represents what someone has determined is a likely amount and you choose whether you think the total will be “over” the set number or “under.”  Our over/unders will generally be a little more in-depth than simple “total points.”

We’ll keep track of how everyone does over the course of the season, and the winner (and maybe a few other people who do well) will win prizes. The official IU Athletics box score will be used to determine the final totals.

Let’s get rolling.

1.  Indiana defense average points allowed per game – Over/Under 33.00

Indiana’s defense has struggled for what seems like two decades. During the Kevin Wilson era, it’s been a special type of abysmal. It’s true that the challenging strength of schedule coming from the Big Ten East and the scorching tempo of the Indiana offense put some strain on the defense. Even still, Indiana gave up fewer than 35 points in only 4 games of the year — twice in the easier non-conference slate.

There’s hope this fall with the arrival of new Defensive Coordinator Tom Allen and the 4-2-5. But it’s still difficult to make enough of a leap to bring the defense out of the cellar and into the middle of the pack. Can the Hoosiers improve to finish the year with a merely bad defense?

2.  Indiana combined kickoff and punt returns for TDs – Over/Under 2.5

Indiana’s roster boasts some explosive players throughout the depth chart. While it sometimes takes a couple seasons for young talent to work their way into the roster, special teams is a place where new talent can really shine. Last year, a trio of Damon Graham, Ricky Brookins, and Devonte Williams returned kicks, but there were none taken to the house. However, slot receiver Mitchell Paige returned each punt for the Hoosiers this year, and took 2 of 18 to the end zone.

With an athletic freshman class and strong returning talent, you could see just a bit more out of the Indiana return group.

3.  Devine Redding rushing yards – Over/Under 1000.5

Since Levron Williams in 2001, IU was without a thousand yard rusher until Tevin Coleman in 2014. Now, Deland McCullough’s boys have reeled off three 1000 yard rushers in the last 2 seasons. After sending a running back to the NFL two years in a row[ref]Not including Stephen Houston who has hopped around the league a bit[/ref], it’s Devine Redding’s turn to tote the ball for the Hoosiers. Fresh off a thousand yard season, Redding has reportedly looked confident in camp, and the IU O-Line looks to be as strong as ever.

Still, McCullough goes into this year with as much depth as the program’s seen in decades. The pacy Mike Majette returns after showing flashes of potential, and it seems that Kevin Wilson has talked up no player in a Hoosier uniform as much as he’s hyped up Camion Patrick. Add in the livewire Cole Gest, running back turned cornerback turned running back Devonte Williams, and a semi with feet named Tyler Natee, and there are enough options here to make the depth chart seem endless. The biggest obstacle to Redding getting a thousand yards rushing just might be his legion of talented teammates.

4.  Highest ranked Indiana QB in Big Ten passing yards – Over/Under 3.5

After losing Nate Sudfeld, Indiana’s all-time passing leader, to the NFL draft, it’s not surprising that some Hoosier fans are sweating out the days until they see a new face under center. The Hoosiers have several competing starters, including the electric Zander Diamont and the relative unknown Danny Cameron. Even still, signs point to strong-armed JuCo transfer Richard Lagow taking the helm.

An Indiana quarterback has ranked in the top 5 of the Big Ten three out of the last four years — Nate Sudfeld on the last 2 occasions.  In 2012, former JuCo Cam Coffman finished 3rd in the Big Ten in passing.

5.  Indiana total sacks – Over/Under 28.5

The pass rush is one of the areas where Indiana has struggled in the past few years. The graduated Nick Mangieri (9.5 sacks) was the only Hoosier capable of consistently rushing the passer this past year, so it’s still to be seen who can create pressure on the QB. Indiana also lost Darius Latham (4 sacks) and Zack Shaw (4 sacks). Overall T.J. Simmons and Tegray Scales are the top returning players with 3 sacks each.

Last year, the Hoosier defense finished with 30 quarterback sacks.

6.  Indiana touchdowns allowed of 50+ yards. – Over/Under 9.5

While there were many areas where the Indiana D struggled last year, the Indiana defense struggled the most with explosive plays.

The Hoosiers were tied for 125th in 50+ yard plays with 16. Of these, 14 of them went for touchdowns[ref]The other 2 drives would end with a field goal and a touchdown[/ref] — including 3 in the Ohio State thriller.  One would think that pure regression to the mean would help the Hoosiers here.

7.  Indiana regular season wins – Over/Under 6.5

Indiana finished last season with a visit in the Pinstripe Bowl — the first bowl appearance in the Kevin Wilson era, and only the second in the last two decades.

The task becomes more difficult with changes to the Big Ten schedule. Big Ten teams are no longer able to schedule FCS teams, and the conference slate now rests at 9 games. It’s a tougher rule-set presumably created to make the conference more attractive to the National Championship playoff committee.

Despite the challenges, can the Hoosiers keep the momentum going with a bowl appearance?

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Mike