After beating the Big Ten’s worst, things get slightly more challenging this week despite the home game. Rutgers isn’t good, but they aren’t Illinois-bad. The Scarlet Knights beat Maryland a week after Indiana suffered their biggest loss of the season to the Terrapins. Their offense is worse than Indiana’s and their defense is average, at best. Having said that, if the 2015 game against Rutgers taught us anything, it is that you can never overlook another conference opponent. Football Study Hall predicts a 68% chance of a Hoosier victory.
1. Indiana running back opportunity rate – Over/Under 37.0%
In Power Five, non-garbage time, Indiana running backs have an opportunity rate1 of 29%. The national average is nearly 39% so it’s pretty bad. Morgan Ellison is at 37%, Cole Gest is at 31%, and Majette, Williams, Brookins, and Rodriguez have combined for an opportunity rate of 15%. Against Illinois, 41% of Indiana’s RB carries went for 5+ yards. Rutgers has been pretty average in defensive opportunity rate at 39%.
2. Simmie Cobbs receiving yards – Over/Under 95.5
Simmie Cobbs is likely to be playing in his final game at Memorial Stadium. The redshirt junior, who is expected to test the NFL waters, will be going through Indiana’s senior day activities. While it doesn’t necessitate his leaving, for instance Rashard Fant went through senior day last season and returned, it would be a surprise if he returned. Cobbs is averaging 72 yards per game this year with just 3 games over 95 yards. In 2015 he averaged 80 yards per game with 4 games of 95+. Rutgers is allowing 214 receiving yards per game and 12.8 yards per catch. They rank 52nd in pass defense S&P+.
3. Rutgers passing yards – Over/Under 99.5
The Rutgers passing game is anemic. The Scarlet Knights average just 119 passing yards per game. That’s just 16 yards per game more than Georgia Southern, remember them? It isn’t because they are averaging just a handful of passes per game like Navy. While the Rutgers offense is a far cry from the pass-heavy Indiana offense, they are still averaging 23 attempts per game. They just aren’t very good. Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno is 39 or 83 on the season, that’s a 47% average, for 450 yards. Generally a low completion percentage is fine when your yards per attempt is high. Rescigno is averaging just 5.4 yards per attempt. Compare that to Peyton Ramsey, who most people assume can’t throw a deep pass despite some evidence to the contrary, who sits at 6.1 yards per attempt. Since Rescigno took over the starting job 5 games ago, he is averaging 85 passing yards per game with just 2 games over 100.
4. Indiana sack rate – Over/Under 9.0%
Rutgers has only allowed 12 sacks on the year, but part of that is a product of their run-heavy focus. Since Rescigno took over he has been sacked 8 times and has a sack rate of 8.8%. Indiana came into the Illinois game with a 7.2% sack rate and left Champaign with a 9.3% rate. Eight sacks tend to help that figure out. Indiana is actually 18th nationally in opponent-adjusted sack rate. Robert McCray leads the team with 5.5 sacks and Tegray Scales has added 5.
5. Longest Griffin Oakes made field goal Over/Under 43.5
Another senior is Griffin Oakes who has been pretty outstanding for the Hoosiers during his tenure. He is 13 of 14 on field goals with a long of 51 this season. He has also made field goals of 44, 46, and 48 on the year. His career long is 58. It seems likely if he attempts a field goal greater than 43 yards he will likely make it. The question becomes whether he will get that opportunity. Last week against Illinois, Tom Allen eschewed a 51 yard field goal attempt to punt(?).
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