When: Sat. Sept. 24, 2016; 3:30 pm ET
Where: Bloomington, Ind.; Memorial Stadium (52,929)
All-Time Series: Indiana leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Indiana won, 31-24 (2015)
Line: Indiana -7.5
While most of the Big Ten is ready to take on conference opponents, Indiana will get one last tune up before hitting the B1G hard. That tune up will come as the second half of a home-and-home series with the mighty Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.
Having had a bye week to take a look at what is going right and wrong, this week will be all about showing more progress. That means more from Devine Redding, more from the offensive line and certainly more on the defensive side of the football.
It’s safe to say that this game is going to fly under the radar, but it could be vital to the hopes of the Hoosiers making back-to-back bowl appearances.
1Burning Question: Where Has #TeamChaos Gone?
Over the past two seasons of coverage here at talking10, few teams have caused as much chaos amongst our staff picks and around the Big Ten as the Indiana Hoosiers have. However, paying attention to both of IU’s first two games and it has been near complete domination.
That’s not the #TeamChaos we have grown to know and love. With a Wake Forest team coming in on the heels of giving up just 94 yards of total offense against Delaware and just a combined 17 points in its first two contests of the season, is our beloved #TeamChaos about to show up?
Indiana will get tested in this game unlike it has in the past, and it will be on the defense to step up against a Wake Forest team that has shown to be stingy on that side of the ball. Otherwise, could we see #TeamChaos return to the mix in 2016?
2 Key Stats:
— 10. That is the number of first half points Indiana has given up so far this season. As we’ve said before, sure this is all against the backdrop of two mediocre to bad teams at best. But, this is also Indiana’s defense we’re talking about and a fast-starting offense plus a defense that doesn’t give up a lot of points early on can equal teams having to chase the Hoosiers. That’s when mistakes happen, and Indiana’s defense has already come up with six turnovers in just two games as well. While the overall numbers may not suggest it, there are clear signs that Tom Allen has this defense playing its best football of the Kevin Wilson era.
— 9. That is the number of red zone opportunities the Demon Deacons have scored on this season. What could be a determining factor in this game? Let’s take a look at red zone efficiency. Through three games, Wake Forest has converted 9 of 10 red zone opportunities in to points, most importantly the team has scored a touchdown on 8 of the 9 chances it has converted. That could be trouble for a Hoosiers defense that has given up scores on 5 of 6 opponents red zone opportunities. However, IU has allowed just 2 of those 5 scores to be touchdowns. Holding Wake Forest out of the end zone and making them kick field goals could be a massive help. Something will give in the red zone between these two teams and that is one area to watch in this non-conference matchup.
3 Key Players:
Devine Redding, Indiana RB: Whether you realize it or not, Indiana has had a big streak of highly productive running backs to fall back on the past four years or so. Last season, part of that mix was some sophomore named Devine Redding. He was the lighting to Jordan Howard’s thunder.
This season, things have been a little bit different and alongside the changes in front of him. However, Redding hasn’t been as dynamic as the Hoosiers coaching staff or fan base has wanted. He does average 122.5 yards per game, which isn’t bad, but he has yet to put the ball in to the end zone and the team has just one total rushing touchdown. Going up against a big run-stopping defense, Redding and the O-line need to come through and become a focal point of this offense like it has been in the past.
John Wolford, Wake Forest QB: There is little doubt that Wake Forest’s offense is predicated on running the football well. The Demon Deacons have rushed for 620 yards to just 425 yards passing through three games. Meanwhile, Indiana has allowed way more in the pass game than the run game.
Wolford hasn’t exactly inspired a ton of confidence, completing just 54.3 percent of his passes for 251 yards and one touchdown and interception. Should the Hoosiers get out quickly, Wolford is going to be counted on in a way he hasn’t had to be so far this season. Does he fold under the pressure or rise to the occasion?
Marquel Lee, Wake Forest LB: As we already discussed, Indiana’s run game needs some big time improvement. One player who could stand in the way of that improvement is Wake Forest MIKE linebacker Marquel Lee. Not only does he top the tackling charts (18), but he also has 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and 1 quarterback hurry on the season. Look for Indiana to be in for a struggle if you are noticing his name on the broadcast.
4 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Indiana 41-17
Dave: Indiana 41-23
Phil H.: Indiana 42-21
Phil R-R: Indiana 35-20
Zach: Indiana 31-27