Indiana Hoosiers: Big Numbers Won't Add Up to Wins

By Derek Helling
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Hoosiers have the best offense in the Big Ten that no one is talking about. The problem for Indiana is that all the big numbers and impressive stats won’t lead to wins in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers’ 50 points scored per game average is good for sixth in all of FBS. Their 339 passing yards per game average puts them at 11th. Indiana is a respectable 33rd with 232.3 yards per game on average while running the ball. However, as we saw when the Hoosiers faced Navy, those numbers don’t always lead to a win.

Navy had athletes of a similar caliber on defense to those Indiana has on offense, and were able to limit the Hoosiers to 35 points. Without an ability to play quality defense themselves, Indiana gave up 41 points to Navy and suffered its first loss.

The Hoosiers were able to rebound with a 42-10 home victory against Bowling Green this past week in preparation for a real test as the SEC‘s University of Missouri comes to Bloomington this Saturday. Outscoring Indiana State to start the season is one thing. Beating the Tigers, even at home, is an entirely different animal.

It won’t get any easier for the Hoosiers when they start conference play. The Big Ten is still a conference with a lot of teams that play a style of football predicated on running the ball, controlling the clock and limiting big plays on defense. The quick strike ability of this offense is nullified when it is on the sideline.

This Indiana defense has shown little ability to get an opposing offense off the field. The Hoosiers’ three opponents so far have ran for 711 yards, an average of 237 per game. Indiana is being bested by its opponents at time of possession by nearly seven minutes per game thus far. Imagine how ugly those numbers will look when the Hoosiers face the potent running attack of Wisconsin. Melvin Gordon will run over this defense.

The reality for Hoosier fans is that this is a team that can score — and get scored on — at will. If this team was playing in the Big 12, where defense is an afterthought and the team that makes the most mistakes on offense loses, they would stand a chance at winning a conference championship. In the Big Ten, however, the competition won’t feel bad about ramming the ball down the Hoosier defense’s throat and going on eight-minute drives.

Indiana may be able to get enough out of its dynamic offense to win six games and become bowl-eligible. The fact that they score a lot and play in the Big Ten should get them a bowl invite. Getting to Indianapolis to play for a Big Ten championship will require some serious upgrades on the defensive side.

Derek Helling is a Big 10 football writer for Follow him on Twitter @DRokSH, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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