#247 Indiana University Hoosiersvs.#248 University of Utah Utes
Written by Chris Kubala
Indiana Hoosiers (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS, 4-8 O/U) vs. #19 Utah Utes (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS, 6-6 O/U)
NCAAF: Wednesday, December 28, 2016, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California, 8:30 pm ET
Line: Utah -7; Over/Under: 54
It’s a matchup between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 in the Foster Farms Bowl. The Indiana Hoosiers will take on the #19 Utah Utes Wednesday night from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Indiana closed their regular season with a 26-24 home win over Purdue on November 26. Utah dropped their last two and three of their final four games after a 27-22 loss to #9 Colorado on the road November 26. The two teams have met twice previously, with Utah winning both matchups. That includes a 40-13 romp at home in the last meeting on September 7, 2002.
Indiana made a bowl game for the second straight year for the first time since 1990 and 1991. The Hoosiers don’t have a ton of excitement going though as there is controversy surrounding the team. Kevin Wilson resigned at the beginning of December with the official reasoning being “philosophical differences” but there were rampant rumors of players being mistreated. Tom Allen takes over the role and will coach the team here. Allen was the program’s defensive coordinator and spearheaded a defensive improvement that was tops in the nation. The Hoosiers allowed 136.9 fewer yards per game than they allowed in 2015.
The Hoosiers bring the nation’s 20th best passing offense (277.9 yards per game) to the table along with the tied for 77th best (155.2 ypg) rushing offense. Indiana is 87th in the FBS with 25.9 points per game but rank 57th in scoring defense as they allow 27.3 points per contest. Richard Lagow, a junior college transfer, has performed well for the Hoosiers this season. He is 239 of 399 for 3,174 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Zander Diamont (8 of 14, 156 yards, INT, 241 rushing yards, 4 TD) is the backup. Devine Redding is the feature back for the Hoosiers. He leads the team with 236 carries for 1,050 yards and six scores. Tyler Natee (237 yards, 2 TD), Mike Majette (180 yards) and Devonte Williams (161 yards) are in the mix as well. Mitchell Paige (team leading 54 grabs, 604 yards, 3 TD), Nick Westbrook (49 catches, team high 915 yards, 5 TD) and Ricky Jones (50 receptions, 783 yards, 3 TD) provide a trio of solid targets in the passing game. Griffin Oakes is 30 of 32 on extra points but converted only 15 of 24 field goal attempts with a long of 49.
Utah struggled over the last month of the season with two straight losses and three of their final four. That took the shine off a solid 7-1 start to the season. Utah was in every game this season as their four losses game by a combined 19 points. None of the Utes’ defeats were by more than seven points with that being a loss to #4 Washington. Utah also lost by five to Cal, by five to Colorado and by two to Oregon. Three of those defeats came on the road, only the loss to the Ducks came at home this year. Utah wants to get back to form like the team that downed USC on the road earlier this season before the Trojans went on their long winning streak.
The Utes are 77th in the FBS in passing offense (216.9 ypg) and 32nd in rushing with 210.5 yards per game. Utah is 60th in scoring offense with 30.2 points per game. The Utes are 38th in scoring defense by allowing 23.9 points per game. Troy Williams is 196 of 367 passing for 2,579 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He adds 246 rushing yards and five scores. Joe Williams has been a force on the ground since coming out of retirement. He leads the team with 184 carries for 1,185 yards and nine scores. Armand Shyne is second on the team with 78 carries for 373 yards and four scores but was lost for the season with a knee injury. Zack Moss chips in 78 carries for 363 yards and two scores while Troy McCormick (37 carries, 192 yards, 2 TD) is in the mix as well. Tim Patrick leads the team with 43 receptions for 684 yards and five touchdowns. Raelon Singleton (26 grabs, 454 yards, 4 TD), Corey Butler-Byrd (29 receptions, 372 yards) and Evan Moeai (22 catches, 308 yards, 2 TD) are secondary options. Andy Phillips is as reliable a kicker as you can find: he’s hit all 41 extra points and 17 of 21 field goal attempts with a long of 47.
Indiana made massive strides defensively but injuries, along with Wilson’s somewhat acrimonious departure from the program, have taken some of the luster away. Allen has a massive undertaking ahead of him and one has to hope that the school has some patience with him as he attempts to rebuild things. Utah has better talent on the offensive side of the ball as the Hoosiers miss Simmie Cobbs Jr.’s ability to stretch the field. Look for the Utes to close the season on a high note with a win here.
This Indiana squad held Michigan to just 20 points on the road and had issues against good defense. Utah does have a good defense despite struggling against some of the elite offenses in the Pac-12. They’ll have over a month to prepare for the Hoosers’ offense, which is plenty of time to hold them to 20 points or less.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.