Northwestern vs. Indiana prediction and game preview. The Wildcats seek a third straight victory when they host the Hoosiers on Saturday.
Northwestern vs. Indiana Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 – Noon ET
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
TV Broadcast: Big Ten Network
Where might Northwestern be if it scored like this at the start of the season? After averaging 16.3 points during a 1-3 start that included a 9-7 loss to FCS foe Illinois State, the Wildcats have scored 92 over their last two games, winning both. The 38-31 victory over Iowa on Oct. 1 would be more surprising if not for the 54-40 win at Michigan State last week. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has been much better, and Justin Jackson is leading the Big Ten in rushing.
Indiana will try to quiet the suddenly surging Northwestern offense and snap a two-game skid. The Hoosiers stayed close with Ohio State well into the second half before losing by 21 two weeks ago, then nearly rallied from a 17-point deficit before falling at home to Nebraska on Saturday. They’ve lost the last four meetings with the Wildcats, though the programs haven’t met since 2012.
What To Know About Northwestern
Thorson completed 53.2 percent of his passes e’s more of a threat to for five touchdowns and four interceptions while being sacked 15 times during Northwestern’s first four games. His line over the last two – 69.2 completion percentage, six touchdowns, one interception, two sacks, two rushing TDs. It’s no coincidence the Wildcats have been moving the ball now that Thorson has shown he can be accurate.
That improvement also has helped Jackson, who ran for 171 yards and a touchdown against Iowa and 188 and two scores against Michigan State. He didn’t crack the 100-yard mark or score a TD in any of his previous three games, but he’s still taken over the Big Ten rushing lead after finishing second to Ezekiel Elliott last year.
What To Know About Indiana
Jackson could be in for another big day against an Indiana defense that’s allowed an average of 187.4 rushing yards per game over its last five. That includes a season-worst 290 to Ohio State before it gave up 152 in the Nebraska loss. The Hoosiers, though, picked off two Tommy Armstrong passes last week and held the Huskers scoreless in the second and third quarters to help spark a rally.
The offense couldn’t come through, though. Richard Lagow also threw two interceptions – one returned for a touchdown and the other on Indiana’s final drive that sealed the defeat. Devine Redding had 33 of his 57 yards rushing on a touchdown run to end the third quarter. Both will need to be better against a Northwestern defense that ranks 12th in the Big Ten.
Offense: Northwestern – This would’ve been different a few weeks ago, but the Wildcats are rolling on this side of the ball.
Defense: Indiana – The Hoosiers have allowed fewer than 400 yards in five of their six games.
Special Teams: Indiana – Both teams are among the worst in the conference on kickoff coverage, but the Hoosiers’ blocked punt for a safety last week gives it the slight edge.
Coaching: Even – Both Pat Fitzgerald and Kevin Wilson have made strides in recent years to move up a tier in the conference.
Intangibles: Even – Northwestern’s four-game winning streak in the series is moot considering it hasn’t faced the Hoosiers since 2012.
Matchup To Watch
Lagow vs. Northwestern’s pass defense
The Wildcats hadn’t allowed 300 passing yards prior to last week against Michigan State, which had two quarterbacks and a receiver combine for 424 through the air. Lagow’s decision-making has come into question with his nine interceptions, and this one could come down to whether or not he makes too many mistakes.
Spread: Northwestern -1.5
Northwestern vs. Indiana Prediction
This is going to be an entertaining game. The teams will trade scores through much of the game, but Thorson and Jackson lead a drive in the final minutes to give Northwestern a third straight win.
Northwestern vs. Indiana final score prediction: Northwestern 35, Indiana 31