Nebraska’s first meeting with Indiana since entering the Big 10. Nebraska is coming off of a bye week entering this game.
The Cornhuskers have been rolling and are undefeated entering this match-up in Bloomington. Nebraska is averaging 37 points per game and is rushing for 234 yards per game along with passing for 238 yards per game.
The key to the offense has been quaterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. who was turnover prone in his first year in Mike Reilly’s system last year. However, in 2016, Armstrong is playing with confidence and is completing 58% of his passes for 1,151 yards with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Armstrong is also making plays with his legs and has rushed for 293 yards along with 5 rushing touchdowns. Last year, Armstrong rushed for 400 yards with 7 rushing scores and threw 16 interceptions. That is why the Cornhuskers offense is converting 53% of their third down opportunities which ranks 3rd in FBS this year.
Running back Terrell Newby leads the team with 327 rushing yards averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns. Newby is a tough inside runner that brings a physicality on each and every run and has the ability to wear down opposing defenses with his hard running style.
Wide receivers Jordan Westerkamp, Stanley Morgan Jr. and Alonzo Moore are a solid group of pass catchers that are very good route runners. The group has combined for 28 receptions for 674 yards with 6 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Cornhuskers have brought the physicality back to Memorial Stadium and are allowing 17 points per game. The unit is very good in the secondary this year only allowing 195 passing yards per game which is almost 100 yards less than last season’s total of 291 passing yards per game.
The unit is allowing 151 rushing yards per game and is holding opposing offenses to 31 % on their third down opportunities. Nebraska has recorded 11 sacks through the first five games and will need to get pressure on Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow to throw the ball on underneath routes. Nebraska enters this game at +4 in turnover margin which is a considerable jump from last year when the team finished 2015 with a -12 margin.
The Hoosiers played very well the last two weeks against Ohio State and Michigan State splitting both games. On the year, the Hoosiers are averaging 26 points per game and are rushing for 160 yards per game along with passing for 293 yards through the air this season.
Quarterback Richard Lagow has progressed in Kevin Wilson’s system and has been making better reads as the season has played out. Lagow has completed 60% of his passes for 1,460 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The offensive line has done a solid job of protecting Lagow and has only allowed 9 sacks through the first five games. Indiana will look to start fast at home and jump up early on the Cornhuskers. Look for Lagow to challenge the Cornhusker secondary on deep balls early on to loosen up the running lanes for the offense.
Running back Devine Redding leads the team with 491 rushing yards averaging 4.6 yards per carry. However, as a team the Hoosiers only have 2 rushing touchdowns all season long. Indiana is averaging 3.8 yards per carry as a team and will need a better effort against the Cornhuskers to pull out the home win.
Wide receivers Nick Westbrook and Ricky Jones Jr. are the Hoosiers big play weapons and their speed can challenge the Nebraska corners on deep vertical routes over the top. The duo has combined for 38 receptions for 837 yards with 5 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are giving up 25 points per game and are allowing 169 rushing yards per game along with yielding 205 passing yards through the air.
Indiana must find a way to get pressure on quarterback Tommy Armstrong and keep him in the pocket. The defense has only recorded 8 sacks through the first five games and is even in turnover margin.
However, a bright spot is the defense’s ability to get off of the field on third down. This year, the Hoosiers are holding opposing offenses to 34% on third down conversions and will need to duplicate that against the Nebraska offense.
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