The Indiana Hoosiers (6-6, 2-6) fell short of expectations in 2015, falling hard on numerous occasions. Indiana was seen as a competitor in the east division heading into the season with the return of quarterback Nate Sudfeld from a season-ending injury in 2014. Kevin Wilson‘s group lost six straight to open up conference play, though they were awarded a bowl invitation after closing out the campaign with back-to-back wins.
I use the word ‘awarded’ lightly because neither exactly earned an invitation to the postseason. Indiana managed to climb to the .500 mark by season’s end, but they didn’t register any impressive wins. The Hoosiers started the season with a deceiving record of 4-0 as they barely made it past Southern Illinois with a 48-47 final. The Salukis were 3-8 in the FCS. Their other non-conference wins were against two mid-majors and a bad Wake Forest program.
Indiana had an impressive showing against the previously top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to begin the conference slate, but it was all downhill following the loss. The Hoosiers dropped six straight and salvaged their season only because they ended with Maryland and Purdue. They were extended an invitation to the Pinstripe Bowl as a result of their November upswing.
The Hoosiers can’t stop anyone, placing dead last in total defense and scoring defense, but they’re also tough to slow down. They boast a high powered attack that was tops in the Big Ten in each offensive category. An offensive performance consistent with their regular season production should translate into a win for Indiana.
The running game complements the aerial attack as well as any offense in the conference. Jordan Howard and Devine Redding combined for 1,998 yards, while the receiving corps presents a lot of depth. Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ricky Jones and Mitchell Paige each caught over 40 passes for 500-plus yards.
Duke ranks near the bottom of the ACC in sacks and interceptions, which means Indiana’s offensive success should continue this afternoon. Offensively, the Blue Devils have a very good unit, scoring 30.5 points per game. I expect a close, high-scoring game, but in a shootout between two very average teams, I’ll take the efficiency of Sudfeld.
Prediction: Indiana 44, Duke 39
Jason Shawley is a Featured Writer for RantSports.com covering Big Ten football. Follow him on Twitter @jshawls.