college football picks Indiana at Western Kentucky 9-18-10

September 18, 2010


DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 18th, 5:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium (22,113) — Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Indiana 1-0, WKU 0-2. Away Record: Indiana 0-0, WKU 0-2. Neutral Record: Indiana 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: Indiana 0-0, WKU 0-0. Series Record: Indiana leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: Still in search of their first victory on the season, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will play host to the Indiana Hoosiers in a non- conference battle on Saturday evening at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.

Indiana is sure to be fresh as it heads back into play after a 16-day hiatus. The Hoosiers easily took care of Towson, 51-17, on September 2nd. Indiana will be the first Big Ten Conference team to step foot on Western Kentucky’s home field.

WKU hopes to snap the nation’s longest current losing streak as the Hilltoppers have fallen in 22 consecutive games, the latest of which came last Saturday while visiting Kentucky as the Wildcats had their way in posting a 63-28 victory.

This matchup marks only the second time these two squads have ever met. The prior showdown took place on August 30, 2008, as the Hoosiers took the victory in a 31-13 final at home.

Indiana’s offense through the air was one of the best in the Big Ten Conference in 2009, but running back Darius Willis showed the nation the Hoosiers’ rushing attack can be just as good, if not better. Willis ran for 102 yards on 14 carries in IU’s only game this season against Towson, scoring two touchdowns. Willis averaged 7.3 per carry and ran for 50 yards after initial contact, showing his versatility which can create nightmares for an opponents’ defense. Quarterback Ben Chappell threw for 162 yards on 16-of-23 passing in his two and a half quarters of action. Tight-end Ted Bolster proved to be an impact player as well, snagging four catches good for 68 yards and one score against Towson.

The Hoosiers defense was solid against Towson, a team Indiana should have muscled around on the defensive side of the ball. However, the Hoosiers were unable to record a sack on the day. But they were able to pick the ball off three times, one of which was returned for a score from 56 yards out by junior cornerback Matt Ernest. Safety Mitchell Evans picked off the other two, while linebacker Tyler Replogle led the team in tackles with 10. While the Hoosiers were able to control the attack through the air, giving up just 165 yards passing, they will definitely have to improve against the run. Indiana let up 227 total yards on 42 carries.

Western Kentucky found itself limping into last week’s game after falling to powerhouse Nebraska, 49-10, in the season opener. The Hilltoppers were then embarrassed by the Kentucky Wildcats in week two, 63-28. There is only one aspect to highlight when it comes to WKU’s offensive attack, and that is junior running back Bobby Rainey. Rainey has run for more than 150 yards in each game this year. The first of which was a 155-yard performance against Nebraska and an even more impressive 184 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday against Kentucky.

Western Kentucky’s defense has been incredibly shaky thus far in 2010. The Hilltoppers have allowed an average of 56 points per game. Heading into the third week of the season, their defense has allowed an unbelievable 549 yards on the ground. This is totally unacceptable if WKU hopes to even begin thinking about stopping its lengthy losing streak. The pass defense isn’t helping the cause, letting up more than 261 yards per game. The Hilltoppers will have to be aggressive and hope to create momentum off of turnovers if they hope to contend.

While it’s certain that the Hilltoppers will receive another terrific performance from Bobby Rainey, it’s just not going to be enough against a much better all-around team in the Hoosiers. Look for Indiana’s solid offense to take advantage of an inferior Western Kentucky defense and cruise to an easy victory this Saturday.

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