It’s a non-conference matchup on the gridiron when the Big Ten travels to face Conference USA in the Bluegrass State. The Indiana Hoosiers are on the road as they travel to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Saturday night. Indiana was knocked off 38-24 at home by #8 Cincinnati in their most recent contest last Saturday. Western Kentucky was off last week: they were dropped 38-35 on the road by Army in their previous contest back on September 11. In the all-time series between the teams, the Hoosiers have won all three meetings, including a 38-35 victory at home in their most recent matchup on September 19, 2015.
Indiana Hoosiers Looking to Even RecordIndiana has struggled out of the gate as they were unable to hold an early lead as #8 Cincinnati took control of the contest and picked up the win. The Hoosiers fell to 1-2 on the season and are 0-1 in Big Ten play as they look to even their mark. Against Cincinnati, Indiana held a 14-0 lead with five minutes to play in the first half before giving up 10 points in the final 1:33 to trim their lead to four. The Hoosiers traded the lead in the third quarter, leading 24-23 after three before getting outscored 15-0 in the final stanza to take the loss. Indiana held a 376-328 edge in total offense and controlled the clock 30:23 to 29:37 though they were done in by four turnovers as they forced only two takeaways.
On the year, the Hoosiers are 106th in passing offense with 179.7 yards per contest through the air and 89th in rushing offense with 136 yards per game on the ground. Indiana is 75th in the FBS in scoring offense with 28.7 points per game while they are 94th in scoring defense by allowing 28.7 points per contest. Michael Penix Jr. is 42 of 87 passing for 448 yards with four touchdown passes and six interceptions on the year. Jack Tuttle is two of six for 91 yards and a touchdown on the year. Penix Jr. has been medically cleared to play this week after seeking treatment for what seemed to be an injury to his throwing arm last week. Stephen Carr is the lead back in the ground game with 62 carries for 227 yards plus a score. Tim Baldwin Jr. is next in line with 23 carries for 67 yards on the season. D.J. Matthews (11 catches, 150 yards), Ty Frofogle (11 receptions, 126 yards, TD) and Peyton Hendershot (nine grabs, 86 yards, TD) are solid options in the passing game. Charles Campbell has hit all nine extra-point attempts and three of three field-goal attempts with a long of 49 this season. Chris Freeman hit both extra-point attempts while not attempting a field goal this year.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Rested and ReadyWestern Kentucky had last week off, giving them two weeks to prepare for this contest after going to the wire against Army on the road in their last game. The Hilltoppers fell to 1-1 on the season and look to spring an upset here. Against Army, Western Kentucky trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter and was down 35-14 with 10:31 to play in the game before rallying. The Hilltoppers drew to within 38-35 with 22 seconds to play but ran out of time. Western Kentucky held a 477-416 edge in total offense though they lost the first down battle 23-22 and were dominated 39:38 to 20:22 in time of possession. Both teams turned the ball over once in the contest.
The Hilltoppers enter this contest leading the nation with 456.5 yards per game through the air while they are 125th in rushing with 75.5 yards per contest. Western Kentucky is fourth in the FBS in scoring offense as they put up 47 points per contest while they are 102nd in scoring defense by allowing 29.5 points a game. Bailey Zappe is 56 of 75 passing for 859 yards with 10 touchdowns against two interceptions while adding 31 yards and a score on the ground. Carson Baker completed his lone pass attempt for 54 yards and a score. Kye Robichaux (nine carries, 44 yards), Adam Cofield (13 carries, 42 yards, TD) and Noah Whittington (eight carries, 33 yards) have shared the limited load in the run game. Jerreth Sterns leads the team with 16 receptions for 278 yards plus four scores in the passing game. Malachi Corley (11 catches, 114 yards, TD) and Mitchell Tinsley (10 grabs, 151 yards, two TD) are good receiving options. Brayden Narveson hit all 13 extra-point attempts and his lone field goal attempt, which came from 34 yards, this season.
The top trends for this one are:
- Hoosiers are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as a road favorite
- Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Penix Jr. is going to have to be much better than he’s been in the first three games this season for the Hoosiers to hang in here. Zappe is second in the nation in touchdown passes behind only Tanner Mordecai of SMU, who has 11, and looks to continue his torrid start to the year. Indiana’s defense has given up only 183.7 yards per game through the air this season but they face a stiff challenge in this one. The Hoosiers have a chance to move the ball on the ground as Western Kentucky is giving up a hefty 270 yards per game, 5.3 yards per carry and six scores on the ground this year. Perhaps being able to run the ball can help Penix Jr. right himself. This one is going to be a tougher game than Indiana would have expected. The Hoosiers should win the game but the Hilltoppers, playing at home, keep it a one-score game so if you’re playing the line, take the points and Western Kentucky here.
Full-Game Total Pick
After opening the season with a 40-point total against a number of 45.5 points in their loss to Iowa, Indiana has seen the over hit in their last two games. The Hoosiers saw 70 points against a number of 53.5 points in the Idaho game and then 62 points in their game with Cincinnati against a number of 50. Western Kentucky’s two games have seen totals of 80 and 73 points, surpassing the totals of 58.5 and 52.5 points. The Hilltoppers have gone over the mark in each of their last five contests entering this one. Western Kentucky has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four in September and 4-0 in their last four after picking up at least 450 yards of offense. Seeing how Western Kentucky can score in bunches and quickly, this one ends up over the total.