BOZICH | Big Ten football power ratings: Why is Indiana playing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Big Ten football power ratings: Why is Indiana playing league's toughest schedule?

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Tevin Coleman remains one of the best backs in the Big Ten. Tevin Coleman remains one of the best backs in the Big Ten.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There were dozens of paths the Indiana University football team could travel to arrive at six bowl games and qualify for Kevin Wilson's first bowl game four seasons as the Hoosiers' coach.

Most included a win at Bowling Green. Indiana lost.

Few included a win at Missouri. Indiana won.

A chunk featured a win against visiting Maryland last Saturday. Indiana lost.

Every one included a victory this Saturday – at home against North Texas.

That sounds like the definition of a Must Win to me, a win that would move the Hoosiers to 3-2 and leave them with three home games (Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue.)

A 3-2 record is no reason to toss confetti, but Indiana's strength of schedule to date is the toughest in the Big Ten, according to the Jeff Sagarin and Colley Matrix computer numbers. Both of those formulas were part of the Bowl Championship Series.

If any program needs to be playing one of the league's most forgiving schedules, it's Indiana. IU athletic director Fred Glass has a goal of making certain the program plays seven home games every season and changing the dynamics of the schedule.

Glass can't change the next eight games. Considering Michigan State might be the league's best team and IU has only beaten Penn State once in school history, getting two more home wins is no putt in the leather.

Can IU get two wins on the road? Forget Ohio State. Michigan seems like a good place for a visiting team to deliver these days. But raise your hand if you know the last time the Hoosiers won in Ann Arbor?

You likely weren't born. It was 1967.

Splitting games at Iowa and Rutgers would be a success.

When I look at Indiana's profile, three things stand out:

1. They've been one of the best rushing teams in the Big Ten while playing what Sagarin says is the league's toughest schedule. IU is running for 284 yards per game, 12th in the nation.

2. The passing game has suffered considerably because of the absence of Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Ted Bolser. A year ago Indiana was passing for 306 yards per game and ranked 32nd in passing efficiency. This season IU is only passing for 209 yards per game and ranks 99th in efficiency.

3. The defense has improved, but has one major flaw: the red zone. Opposing teams have marched inside the IU 20 a dozen times – and scored every time, six touchdowns and six field goals. You can guess where that ranks in the national numbers.

There are multiple paths Indiana can still travel to six wins and bowl eligibility. All of them include a win over North Texas.

WEEK SIX BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS

1. (3) Nebraska (5-0) – I'll guess we'll know more after the Cornhuskers visit East Lansing Saturday night.

2. (4) Michigan State (3-1) – If the Spartans beat Nebraska, they should roll all the way to Ohio State Nov. 8.

3. (5) Ohio State (3-1) – I still can't forget the Virginia Tech loss.

4. (8) Maryland (4-1) – The Terps get the Buckeyes at home – and they're an 8 1/2-point underdog.

5. (6) Iowa (4-1) – Hawkeyes have a week off to prepare for Indiana.

6. (7) Wisconsin (3-1) – The Badgers are favored by 8 in Evanston.

7. (9) Rutgers (4-1) – The Scarlet Knights get their chance to put Brady Hoke in more trouble at Michigan.

8. (10) Minnesota (4-1) – The Gophers beat Michigan in a season when everybody is beating Michigan.

9. (13) Northwestern (2-2) – Pat Fitzgerald says he has dropped the Mr. Nice Guy routine. We'll see how it works against Wisconsin.

10. (2) Penn State (4-1) – Northwestern 29, Penn State 6?

11. (11) Illinois (3-2) – Four wins for the Illini? Book it. Purdue is in town.

12. (1) Indiana (2-2) – Must win against North Texas, a team that beat Indiana three years ago.

13. (12) Purdue (2-3) – Played Iowa tough, but not tough enough.

14. (14) Michigan (2-3) – What's left to say?

MR. TOUCHDOWN – GROUND DIVISION (Big Ten backs with the most TDs.)

1. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska halfback, 10 TDs

2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin halfback, 9

3. Tevin Coleman, Indiana halfback; Paul James, Rutgers halfback 7

5. Josh Ferguson, Illinois halfback; Mark Weisman, Iowa halfback 6

7. C.J. Brown, Maryland quarterback 5

8. Trevor Siemian, Northwestern quarterback; Delton Williams, Michigan State; Corey Clement Wisconsin quarterback; Bill Belton, Penn State halfback; David Cobb Minnesota halfback 4

TOUGHEST SCHEDULE (ranked by Jeff Sagarin and Colley-Matrix computer formulas)

1. Indiana 34th and 22nd nationally

2. Maryland 37/64

3. Illinois 61/43

4. Ohio State 64/96

5. Northwestern 69/47

6. Michigan 75/75

7. Iowa 76/143

8. Penn State 78/101

9. Minnesota 84/84

10. Nebraska 90/54

11. Purdue 95/93

12. Rutgers 100/111

13. Wisconsin 114/83

14. Michigan State 116/63

SOURCE: Jeff Sagarin's college football computer rankings.

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.


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