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A New Beginning?: The CORN NATION Q&A With Indiana

Has anything been fixed in the bye week. If not, the Hoosiers will leave Memorial Stadium with their 2nd straight victory in Lincoln.

Indiana v Nebraska
And on the other side of the field, we had QB Luke McCaffrey and RB Wandale Robinson. Good times!!
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Anyone who’s ever played NCAA 2014 (or pick your favorite year) knows what a “rage quit” is. That CPU or anonymous online opponent has screwed you at the wrong time for the last time. Again. And with just enough force and fury not to have to replace your gaming system that Power or Reset button is jabbed and the injustice is quickly wiped from the screen.

Nebraska pressed a $7.5 million rage quit the day after the Georgia Southern debacle and following an expected slap-dick performance against the Sooners, is coming off a much-needed bye week for a 2022 Reset game against the 3-1 Indiana Hoosiers as an inexplicable -5.5 favorite.

How does Indiana feel about the goings on Saturday? To help us out with that, Luke Norton of SBNation Indiana’s Crimson Quarry was kind enough to answer our weekly questions with his thoughts on the Hoosiers and their chances against a Huskers team in transition. Many thanks to Luke for his time and away we go:

(Just added - HERE’S THE LINK to the Q&A I did with CQ on their site.)

1) So I imagine Connor Bazelak is basically strolling through campus looking like The Joker this week. Unless the Hoosiers decide to suddenly go run-heavy, will this be his first 400-yard game of the season?

Indiana probably won’t decide to go run heavy merely because I don’t believe they’re capable of doing so and I think they know that.

Took a quick peek at the stats for Nebraska’s secondary and I could honestly see it happening if the stars align. Indiana has been in a position to have the throw the ball late in three of its four games now, winning two of those while the third (the loss to Cincinnati) felt like a lost cause in the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re passing to try to win late in the fourth yet again, but it all depends on if D.J. Matthews is available because he’s the most experienced receiver on the team and the only one who’s shown that he can capitalize on the deep ball.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

2) As you can tell, new defensive coordinator or not, we are severely lacking confidence in our defense. But speaking of Bazelak, what are Indiana fans’ early returns on him? Cincinnati gave his completion % a hit, but that probably wasn’t unexpected and he did have some nice moments against Illinois.

He’s done the best with what he has. He’s had a few overthrows here and there, but that’s occasionally a byproduct of not being able to step into his throws because by the time he winds up there’s pressure in his face.

When he’s had the time, he’s been able to deliver good passes with proper touch. He generally makes good decisions on throwing the ball away but sometimes he doesn’t have the time to do even that.

Western Kentucky v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

3) What are thoughts on Tom Allen? He dipped to 2-10 after taking the Hoosiers to bowl games in three of his first five seasons, but has already topped that win total in the first four games of 2022. Is that acceptable at a hoops hungry school or is there any kind of movement or pressure to hit that next level?

Tom Allen is in a truly weird position because he doesn’t have a ton of pressure to win big because of the program’s history. Like any coach he obviously wants that, but if he generates some so-so seasons for Indiana with a few instances of 6-6, 7-5 or even 8-4 mixed in, Indiana’s not passing that up.

Allen’s particularly unique because he very clearly wants to be here. He was born in Indiana, coached high school ball here and his career aspiration was to be a Big Ten defensive coordinator before he was handed the program.

Indiana would never fire Allen for being good but not good enough, they’ll take good and the fans will be fine with that. Now Allen’s problem has become just getting back to being okay after a million injuries and an inept offense tanked the 2021 season. The reset button was hit and it almost feels like Allen’s starting from square one again because he has to re-establish Indiana’s identity and his own good will with the fanbase.

4) Two-parter for our fans - a) as an Indiana fan who is the player or player(s) you think of when you think of Indiana football, and b) what personally is your favorite Indiana football game/moment?

It’s probably either Cam Jones or Tiawan Mullen on the current roster, both Allen guys who have developed through the years as he’s kind of turned Indiana into a linebacker factory behind Micah McFadden and Jones. As for overall history, probably Antwaan Randle El, George Taliaferro and Tevin Coleman.

Definitely the 2020 Penn State game. (Haha perfect, screw Penn State - Andy)

Antwaan Randle El #11, Jim Leonhard #18

5) Speaking of bowl games, the Hoosiers appear to be in the mix for another post-season appearance - what game or game(s) are must wins for that to happen? Does it require an upset and if yes, where’s your best shot at one on the schedule? (I know we’re 3 5.5-point favorites, but you can’t choose us. That is just an idiotic line in our current state.)

Indiana has to get back to beating Big Ten programs at its own level on a consistent basis. Maryland and Rutgers are much better than they were when Allen first took the job, but Indiana’s gotta win those this year if it wants to get to the postseason.

Purdue’s obviously having its moment under Jeff Brohm, but that’s still ultimately a program of a comparable level to Indiana, Allen’s gotta consistently win the bucket and he’s gotta do it this season.

That’s three games they’ve gotta win or at least compete in consistently to get to bowl eligibility year after year. Indiana’s given Michigan and Michigan State a few scares over the years but I don’t see that happening this year except for mayyyybe MSU, gotta see a bit more from them but that could be a possibility. Even if Indiana is competitive against MSU, that’d be an upset.

Ohio State is Ohio State. Moving on.

6) Prediction time: The stars appear aligned for Indiana to win its 2nd straight in Lincoln (and yes, I’m 100% trying to toss black cats all over your path. I apologize to no one.) but as Bear Bryant once said, “That’s why they play the games, that damn thing ain’t round.”

Or maybe he didn’t, who gives a damn, it sounds like him. So who ya’ got and what’s the score?

Indiana’s gone to Lincoln and won before while both teams were playing backup quarterbacks. It’s very much worth mentioning that Peyton Ramsey was a former starter, but the offense was different with him out there. With that in mind and *gestures* I’m not sure how much of a factor the environment will truly play.

Nebraska has some legitimate talent and playmaking ability on offense, and Indiana’s defense has shown that it’ll allow explosive plays (see WKU and Cincinnati). That could give Indiana some trouble.

But if Nebraska’s defense comes as advertised, Indiana will mayyyyybe find a way to get points on the board. I’m by no means confident in that, but I also saw the Hoosiers find some explosive plays against Illinois, so it’s absolutely within the realm of possibility.

I really, really do not want to predict a win for Indiana but I feel compelled to because Allen’s capable of getting this team fired up and it feels like they have more to play for while Nebraska is actively searching for a head coach. If Indiana loses, I wouldn’t be surprised if that marks a serious turning point in the season.

I’d say Indiana 34 - Nebraska 28 but I am by no means confident.

Also I think Indiana’s wearing its road throwbacks and they wore those during the one big game where the offense played well in back in 2021 so hey man who knows.

Nebraska Cornhuskers