Finally, back in the comfy confines of Memorial Stadium, the Indiana Hoosiers will host the Northwestern Wildcats in search of their seventh win of the season.
Saturday’s contest will be a match-up between two teams trending in opposite directions, as Indiana has won it’s sixth game before the end of October, the first time the Hoosiers have achieved such a feat since the 1993 season.
Northwestern, however, hasn’t made the same success. Just a year removed from a Big Ten championship game appearance, the Wildcats have struggled through the 2019 season, amassing a record of just 1-6.
Much of the Wildcats struggles have been attributed to porous quarterback play by the duo of Aidan Smith and Hunter Johnson. To put their struggles into context, both quarterbacks have combined for a sub 50% completion percentage, along with just 2 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions.
The Northwestern offense has combined for just 882 passing yards on the season, meanwhile Indiana’s Whop Philyor has racked up 737 yards receiving by himself.
Yet despite the struggles for Northwestern’s offense, the defense has been a completely different story. The Wildcats boast one of the stouter defenses in the Big Ten, coming in at 6th in the conference and 4th in rushing defense according to Pro Football Focus.
Indiana’s offensive line will have their hands full with a talented Northwestern front seven that has four different players who have graded out to have a run stopping grade of 81+ according to PFF. To put that into perspective, the Indiana defense does not have a single player who has achieved run stopping grade of 80.
The Northwestern defense is led by an impressive trio of Earnest Brown IV, Joe Gaziano, and Alex Miller. The three have combined for 12 sacks and 31 quarterback hurries on the season, and their ability to rush the passer has been a major factor in the success of the Wildcat defense.
As for Indiana, the question of who will be lining up center remains up in the air as freshman star Michael Penix Jr. remains a game time decision with an undisclosed injury. If Penix can’t go, Indiana will be in good hands with Peyton Ramsey, who’s led Indiana to back-to-back Big Ten road wins in the last couple weeks.
Indiana head coach Tom Allen has been vocal about achieving a breakout season since his arrival to Indiana, and with a chance to win their seventh game of the season in just nine games, the Hoosiers appear close to that breakthrough.
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