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New Era Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Indiana vs. Duke

When: Sat. Dec. 26; 3:30pm ET
Where: Bronx, NY; Yankees Stadium
TV: ABC
All-Time Series: Indiana leads, 2-1
Last Meeting: Duke Win; 31-24 (Sept. 8, 1984)
Line: Duke +2.5

1 Burning Question: Can This Game Top 100 Points?

No, we’re not kidding around with this question. Both teams feature defenses perfectly capable of giving up 50-plus points to the opposition and offenses more than capable of also putting up points on the board when clicking on all cylinders.

Duke comes in averaging 30.5 points per game, while the Hoosiers led the Big Ten and were 22nd nationally with 36.2 points per game themselves. Something is going to have to give and it may be the scoreboard clock operators ability to keep up with all the scoring happening.

About the only question left to answer is if this will set the bowl game record for most points? In case you’re wondering…that record is currently 122 in regulation during the 2011 Alamo Bowl between Baylor and Washington.

2 Reasons to Actually Watch:

— Jordan Howard: The Hoosiers running back is perhaps the best kept secret in the Big Ten and it is only because he was overshadowed by Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. Few running backs are as explosive as Howard is (134.8 yards per game), and if you want to see a great ground game, watching Howard work is totally worth tuning in.

— Duke’s defense vs. Indiana’s offense: Can the Hoosiers continue to score points at will? This Duke defense certainly suggests it could be points after points after points. They’ve given up 30-plus points in five of their last six games, including 66 points to North Carolina. Indiana on the other hand led the Big Ten in scoring at 36.2 points per games. Let’s just say this could be highly ridiculous on the scoreboard front.

3 Key Players:

— Nate Sudfeld, Indiana QB: The senior leads the Hoosiers out for one final time, and it has been one heck of a year for the talking10 B1G Quarterback of the Year. He has lit up the sky with bombs galore, but has also been the most consistent of his career. Going up against a shaky Duke defense should give him a field day. If he’s not on though, it could be a rough late afternoon in the Bronx for the Hoosiers.

— Shaquille Powell, Duke RB: As bad as Duke’s defense has been at times, Indiana’s has been nearly as bad on all accounts. That leads us to Powell, who needs to be a big help in keeping the high-powered Hoosier offense off the field. To his credit, he finished the season with a decent 4.4 yards per carry average as the primary backup. He won’t be the backup in this matchup though, and it is his last chance to make a big impression on NFL scouts that may be on hand.

— Ross Martin, Duke K: If there is going to be crazier matchup of kickers in the bowl season, hats off to you. Griffin Oakes is the Big Ten Kicker of the year, while Duke counters with Martin, who has hit seven career field goals of 50-plus yards. Either these two get a lot of work or none at all, but look towards Martin to be a big help should Duke’s offense stall out.

4 Crazy Stats:

— 18.0: That is the amount of tackles for loss that will be missing for Duke in this one. Senior defensive back Jeremy Cash was an absolute monster off the edge, leading the team in tackles for loss and more than doubling up the next closest player. He has an injured wrist and won’t make this contest. Duke needs that production against the explosive Hoosiers offense.

— 17: That is the number of sacks Duke racked up as a defense in 2015. Yep, as a TEAM folks. To put that in perspective, that is only 1.5 sacks better than our B1G Defensive Player of the Year, Carl Nassib, had as an individual. Going up against Indiana’s stellar offensive line means this could be a really bad matchup.

— 6: That is the current non-conference win streak Indiana is on. It is also the longest since the 1985-86 seasons and could be broken with a win in this game.

— 25: That is the number of years it has been since Indiana won a bowl game. IU’s last win in a bowl game came in the 1991 Copper Bowl — a 24-0 blanking of Baylor. Since then, the Hoosiers have made just two more bowl appearances before this matchup.

5 Staff Predictions:

Andy: Indiana 47-30 (88-25 overall; 56-55 ATS)
Dave: Indiana 35-24 (92-21 overall; 61-49 ATS)
Greg: Indiana 37-34 (86-27 overall; 67-43 ATS)
Matt: Indiana 42-35 (91-22 overall; 65-45 ATS)
Phil: Duke 34-30 (42-17 overall; 23-33 ATS) *joined in Week 5

6 Pack Suggestion (Because Beer and Bowl Games Are Your Best Friend): Zombie Dust – 3 Floyd’s Brewing Co.

zombiedustWhy not drink one of the best-named and best-tasting beers to come out of the state of Indiana. After all, making a bowl game is celebration time for Hoosiers fans who actually care about football. Oh, and it won’t get you completely wasted unless you’re playing a drinking game per touchdown or whatever…enjoy responsibly and enjoy this game.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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