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Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: Indiana

By Mitch Sherman

The upward trend continues under third-year Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.

The Hoosiers, with three wins and games remaining at home against Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue, are eyeing their first postseason appearance since 2007 and second in the past 20 years.

Indiana took care of business in the nonconference against Indiana State and Bowling Green, and it beat Penn State for the first time in 17 tries. Wilson’s squad also remained competitive against unbeaten Missouri and defensive powerhouse Michigan State. The Hoosiers’ 28 points against MSU ranked as a season-high figure against the Spartans defense.

Offensively, Indiana is legitimate, totaling more than 500 yards per game to sit 17th nationally and second in the Big Ten to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers pass for 331 yards per game and rush it for 172. They topped 600 yards twice in September and blitzed PSU for 486.

On defense, it’s a bit of a different story. Indiana struggles against the run in particular, allowing 217 yards per game. Not really much better against the pass, so it’s no wonder the 456 yards of total offense it allows ranks 105th nationally. And it’s giving up 32.8 points per game.

MSU, with an offense dormant for much of this season, torched the Hoosiers for 42 points and 473 yards.

Looking for a way to improve? Try getting off the field on third down. Indiana’s foes are converting 44 percent of their third downs and moving the chains at a rate of 25.2 per game, 118th out of 123 FBS teams.

The hope for Indiana is that it doesn’t lose too much steam with consecutive road games at Wisconsin a Ohio State in November. A finale await on Nov. 30 against Purdue, possibly with bowl eligibility at stake for the Hoosiers.

Offensive MVP: Sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld is a big, durable guy, second in the Big Ten in opponent-adjusted QBR, second in passing yardage and tied for the league lead with 13 touchdown throws. He was fairly consistent through the first half of the season until last week at Michigan State, where he struggled.

Defensive MVP: Junior cornerback Tim Bennett has contributed in multiple ways, notably with his four pass breakups and eight solo tackles in the win over Penn State. He’s credited with a nation-leading 14 breakups, one interception, a fumble recovery, two tackles for losses and a team-high 45 stops.