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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

COLUMN: How Indiana football can end its losing streak against Rutgers

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It’s been more than a month since Indiana football won its last game – a bad sign to say the least. There have been a slew of problems the Hoosiers haven’t been able to fix. 

But not all hope is lost for Indiana, and there’s no better time to recover than now. The Hoosiers face Rutgers this weekend, who are winless in Big Ten play. 

Saturday’s matchup in Piscataway, New Jersey is Indiana’s easiest game left on the schedule. The Hoosiers blew key opportunities at Nebraska and against Maryland, and they can’t afford to do so again. 

There have been a lot of things standing in between Indiana and the win column in the last month but nothing insurmountable. While easier said than done, here’s what Indiana needs to get done Saturday. 

Win the turnover battle and capitalize from it 

Indiana has a negative turnover ratio this season with 10 takeaways to its opponent’s 13. While that’s a problem in and of itself, the Hoosiers have only managed 24 points off their 10 takeaways — meaning on average they haven’t come away with a score following a forced turnover. 

Rutgers has an even ratio, forcing and giving the ball away 10 times. However, eight of those turnovers have come in Big Ten play to just two takeaways. 

If the Hoosiers can force havoc and effectively take advantage of it, that would be a tremendous help to an offense who has struggled in Big Ten play.  

Force Rutgers to win through the air 

The absence of Indiana star senior linebacker Cam Jones showed last weekend when Maryland ran all over the Hoosiers in the fourth quarter. Even worse was the Hoosiers knew the run was coming. 

The Scarlet Knights rank 13 of 14 in the Big Ten in passing yards per game with a measly 173 yards per game. Indiana’s pass defense also ranks 13th in the conference. 

One side has to budge, and an Indiana team with nothing to lose should bet on itself. As senior cornerback Jaylin Williams returns from injury, the Hoosiers secondary should be at full strength. 

Find the right pace on offense 

Indiana’s offensive identity has become a lot of passes and taking no time in between plays. While it’s been an interesting experiment, it’s clear the tempo isn’t as effective as intended.  

The Hoosiers shouldn’t part ways with the no-huddle — when used correctly it’s paid dividends — but there are good and bad times to use it. Scrambling to snap the ball after losing yards is a bad time. 

Indiana needs to learn this and put it into effect, because the difference could go a long way. 

One week away from their bye week, the Hoosiers are in full-on desperate mode. A loss this weekend would make five straight, and the callbacks to last season’s eight-game losing streak would only rise. 

However, there’s a lot of football left for Indiana. While getting close doesn’t count, last weekend against Maryland was — mostly — a good sign from a competitive standpoint. The Hoosiers are a few adjustments away from getting back to .500, and this weekend they’ll have a shot at doing just that. 

Follow reporters Garrett Newman (@GarrettNewman20) and Jacob Spudich (@spudichjacob) and columnist Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the Indiana football season. 
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