Finally out of the realm of 5-7, Tom Allen and the Hoosier are bowling, and #9WINDIANA is in their sights (h/t our friends at Crimson Quarry). Northwestern and Indiana have seen their roles flip over the past year or so, and even though this week’s hosts are relatively untested, they certainly look deserving of their two touchdown-favorite status.
Here are three things to know about the surging Hoosiers:
A victory would give them their first winning season in 12 years
The last year that Indiana ended the season over .500 was 2007, in which they went 7-6, losing the Insight bowl. The Hoosiers have played in just three bowl games since 2000, failing to win any of them. Indiana hasn’t even gone .500 in the Big Ten since 2001, in which they went 4-4.
Currently sitting at 3-2 in conference play, the Hoosiers look ready to end that unfortunate streak. Not only that, but thanks to a striking 6-2 overall record, they are not only close to a winning record but only a few wins away from near-contention in the Big Ten East. Again, this is Indiana we are talking about.
Northwestern holds a rare advantage in this historical matchup
Northwestern currently rides a five-game winning streak into Saturday against their semi-neighbors to the east, not having lost to the Hoosiers since 2008. They have also taken nine of the last ten iterations of this matchup, dating all the way back to 2002. The two teams last met in 2016, when NU topped IU 24-14 in Evanston on homecoming.
The Wildcats are 47-35 all time against their conference rival, a rare advantage in Big Ten play for the purple and white. Based off the fact that Indiana enters game week as 12.5 point favorites, it doesn’t seem crazy to think that the Hoosiers could begin turning the lopsided recent history around on Northwestern in just a few days.
Indiana has depth at QB, and plenty of options at the other skill positions as well
Redshirt freshman Michael Penix, Jr. started the season at QB for Indiana. The talented signal caller with a cannon for an arm, who has appeared in 5 games this year, is questionable with a knee injury for Saturday. While Penix has been hurt, the QB who he beat out to start the season, junior Peyton Ramsey, has played well enough in his stead to win crucial games against Maryland and Nebraska.
Ramsey has thrown for 1,194 yards, 8 TDs and 3 INTs in three games, including a 351 yard and 2 TD performance in Indiana’s 38-31 victory last Saturday in Memorial Stadium. He dished out 14 completions for 178 of those yards to the absurdly speedy Whop Philyor (pictured above), a legitimate NFL talent, and also hit big-bodied receiver Ty Fryfogle four times for 75 yards and a touchdown. Throw in impressive tight end Peyton Hendershot and the massive Stevie Scott at running back, and it’s easy to see what makes this team so difficult to defend.
It’s difficult to get a read on who the Hoosiers will start under center against NU, as Penix won the job to start the season and played well before going down. With that said, Ramsey has been more than serviceable in his time as the starter. If Penix is healthy, Indiana really can’t make a bad choice between the two, especially with the full complement of playmakers they will be surrounded by.