The Daily Northwestern

Football: Indiana Daily Student writers say Hoosiers no longer pushovers

Josh Walfish, Gameday Editor

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As Northwestern heads into Big Ten play, The Daily shifts its focus to Indiana. We emailed the Indiana Daily Student’s two football beat writers, Jordan Littman and Aaron Siegal-Eisman, who collaborated on answers to five big questions ahead of Saturday’s game. The Wildcats and Hoosiers got into a shootout last year in Bloomington, Ind., with NU prevailing 59-38. However, the seven prior meetings were decided by a total of 26 points. The Hoosiers are breaking in two new quarterbacks and have an army of running backs to throw at the Cats. We got Littman and Siegal-Eisman’s take on who NU should be on the lookout for Saturday.

The Daily:  How does the bye week help Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld?

Littman and Siegal-Eisman: Cam Coffman needed the bye week to recuperate, after getting a hip pointer in the Ball State game, while Sudfeld was able to get some critical reps with the first team offense. Both are young and do not have much Division 1 experience, so the more practice they get, the better they will be. The bye week should help them both by allowing them to look at film to see what they need to improve on and how to exploit the Northwestern defense.

The Daily: What has changed for the Hoosiers this season that they seem to be playing better football?

Littman and Siegal-Eisman: What has changed about the Indiana football program is the belief in themselves that they can compete at the highest level and work together to produce victories. That was seen in IU’s comeback against Ball State two weekends ago that nearly ended in a victory. The addition of new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell from Arizona certainly has helped the offense, as the Hoosiers rank atop the Big Ten in passing yards per game.

The Daily: How is the trio of running backs working for the Hoosiers?

Littman and Siegal-Eisman: It’s actually four running backs that Northwestern needs to worry about. Sophomore running back Isaiah Roundtree has entered the mix for playing time for the Hoosiers, joining D’Angelo Roberts, Stephen Houston and true freshman Tevin Coleman as the four main tailbacks IU’s offense has utilized. While IU is running the ball less this year compared to 2011, it’s effective core at the position has allowed the offense to utilize the running game to open up its passing attack.

The Daily: Which Indiana player will have the biggest impact on the game?

Siegal-Eisman: QB Cam Coffman will have the biggest impact for the team. If he does well, then the Hoosiers could pull off the road victory. However, if he can’t get the offense going, the Hoosiers will have problems.

Littman: Watch out for IU running back Stephen Houston, who could explode against the Wildcats. It appears Houston has found his 2011 form based on his performance against Ball State, when the junior ran for 102 yards and a touchdown. Last year against Northwestern, Houston also tore up the Wildcat defense, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Given the opportunity on Saturday, Houston could shine in the 2012 Big Ten opener.

The Daily: Prediction for Saturday?

Siegal-Eisman: Northwestern 41 – IU 24 – The Wildcats have a very good running attack and the Hoosiers have given up more than 170 rush yards in two out of three of their games and NU could exploit that.

Littman:  IU 42, Northwestern 34 – Oct. 2, 2004: that is the date that Northwestern fans should have in mind when their football team faces the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. It has been eight years since the Wildcats have won a Big Ten home opener, and the Hoosiers are no longer a pushover team. Expect Indiana to give Northwestern all it can handle defensively, and though the Wildcats will score plenty, this game could spell upset for the team in purple.