BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana comes off a bye week looking for its first Big Ten victory Saturday at home against Rutgers. After putting up a good fight in a 40-31 loss at Michigan State their last time out, the Hoosiers are poised for a rebound against a team that has been outscored 130-7 in three conference games.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Indiana -28
Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. returned for Indiana after missing two games with an injury and had a career day against Michigan State on Sept. 28, completing 33-of-42 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns. Penix was so dialed in that he connected on 20 consecutive throws, two short of the Big Ten record set by Iowa's Chuck Long in 1984. He has formed a special connection with wide receiver Whop Philyor, who finished with 14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana's offense should be able to move the ball up and down the field against Rutgers, which ranks next to last in total defense in the Big Ten.
ABOUT RUTGERS (1-4, 0-3 Big Ten)
Offensive coordinator Nunzio Campanile took over as interim coach Sept. 29 after Chris Ash was fired and the Scarlet Knights' struggles continued in Campanile's first game as they lost 48-7 to Maryland last week. Redshirt freshman Johnny Langan made his first start at quarterback and completed 13-of-25 passes for 163 yards with two interceptions and rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown for an offense that ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring (14.2 points per game overall). The defense also finds itself at the bottom of the conference statistics in points (36.2), rushing yards (199.0), first downs (22.8) and third-down conversions (.389) allowed per game.
ABOUT INDIANA (3-2, 0-2)
The Hoosiers rank third in the Big Ten in passing offense with 304.0 yards per game, but their rushing attack has yet to get going this season. Indiana's 110.4 yards per game on the ground (70 yards in the loss at Michigan State) is second worst in the conference and top running back Stevie Scott III is averaging 56.2 yards per game. Coach Tom Allen said he spent a considerable amount of time looking at ways to improve the defense during the bye week after Indiana gave up 40 points and 442 yards in its last game.
1. In three games this season, Penix has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 809 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
2. Philyor's 14 catches against Michigan State on Sept. 28 are tied for the most in a game this season in FBS and third on Indiana's career list.
3. Rutgers' Raheem Blackshear is tied with Purdue's Rondale Moore for the Big Ten lead in catches per game (7.3), which is ninth nationally.
PREDICTION: Indiana 52, Rutgers 10