PJP Over/Under Game – FIU

Courtesy: Amelia Herrick

We put out a list of season-long over/unders last week and then the starting running back was suspended and the backup QB quit the team.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you are new, every week we’re going to post over/under “bets.”  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.  The contest will include this season-long over/under, the 12 games, and hopefully a bowl game, after which we will crown a 2018 champion.

Let’s get rolling.

1. RBs with 1+ carry – Over/Under 3.5

With the indefinite suspension of Morgan Ellison, Indiana heads into the season with a running back by committee.  That was probably the case even with Ellison.  Now it is even more likely.  Cole Gest will probably be the starter.  He’ll be backed up with Mike Majette and Ricky Brookins.  Freshman Stevie Scott and Ronnie Walker could also see time.

2. Passing yards – Over/Under 279.5

The FIU pass defense was generous last year.  They ranked 124th in pass defense S&P+ and 87th in yards per attempt against a schedule that outside of Central Florida, wasn’t exactly tough.  Conversely, Indiana ranked 46th in passing S&P+, but only 109th in passing yards per attempt, 74th in success rate, and 129th in isoPPP.  The opponent-adjusted S&P+ rank indicates that while the Hoosiers struggled last year, they faced a lot of elite passing defenses.  In fact, they faced 4 of the top 13 teams in the final passing defense S&P+.  Peyton Ramsey essentially took the heavy majority of the snaps in 4 games last year tossing for 321 yards against Charleston Southern last year and 279 in his time against Maryland before being injured.  Against Michigan and Michigan State he averaged 168 yards. It won’t be as challenging as those 2 games this Saturday in Miami, but it will be interesting to see how much the Hoosiers open it up.

3. FIU offensive stuff rate in non-garbage time – Over/Under 19.9%

The Golden Panthers ranked 11th nationally in 2017 in stuff rate at 15.1%.  Stuff rate is the percentage of runs where the runner is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage.  While their overall running game was subpar, they generally kept moving forward, even a yard or two.  While FIU leading rusher Alex Gardner graduated, his two backups combined to put up similar production so there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off there.  Meanwhile Indiana’s defense was slightly above average in stuff-rate at 20.0%,1 but when the Hoosiers did force a defense into a 2nd or 3rd and long, watch out.  They ranked 9th in passing down S&P+.  Given the personnel turnover on the defensive side of the ball, it will be important for the Hoosiers to force offenses into as many passing downs as possible.  Stuffing the rushing game is a good place to start.  The Hoosiers forced a non-garbage stuff rate greater than 19.9% in 4 of 11 games last year.2

4. Tackles by LBs – Over/Under 16.5

Indiana linebackers averaged just over 18 tackles per game last season, led by Tegray Scales and Chris Covington.  Those departed players ranked 2nd and 3rd on the team in total tackles.  In their place are Dameon Willis (65 career tackles) and Reakwon Jones (9 career tackles). Thomas Allen, Micah McFadden, and T.D. Roof should also see playing time although none have a career tackle in an Indiana uniform.  It is certainly expected that there will be more rotation at linebacker this year. This position group has big shoes to fill, but it certainly has potential.3

5. True freshman participating – Over/Under 9.5

Freshmen QB Michael Penix, TE Matt Bjorson, LB Micah McFadden, DB Cam Jones, S Devon Matthews, CB Jaylin Williams, QB/CB Reese Taylor, and K Charles Campbell are listed on the depth chart.  None of them are listed in a starting role although certainly many of them will play. Other freshmen not listed on the depth chart could see time, especially on special teams.  If the Hoosiers can put the game out of hand early, it is also possible we see a lot of freshmen, particularly with the new redshirt rule.

6. Indiana winning margin – Over/Under 12.5

Vegas has this one at 10.5.  Bill Connelly has it at 12.5.

If you are picking the over, you are picking Indiana to win by 13+ points.  If you are picking the under, you are picking Indiana to lose or win by 12 points or fewer.

This over/under is worth 2 points so make it a good one.

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Billy