For the first time since 2007, Indiana finds itself spending the postseason away from Bloomington. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
Where is this bowl game?
The Big Apple. New York, New York. Yankee Stadium. Ever heard of it?
When is the game?
December 26th, 3:30 pm Eastern, nationally televised on ABC. Rece Davis, Danny Kanell, and Joey Galloway share the booth, with Paul Carcaterra on the sideline.
Who is in this game?
The best 6 loss team in the nation (aka the Indiana Hoosiers) vs. the "only 7-5 because they play in the ACC" Duke Blue Devils. Indiana is making its tenth bowl appearance, while Duke will be entering its twelfth bowl and fourth consecutive. Also, "fun" fact: Duke (remember, an ACC school) has played in more Rose Bowl games than Indiana, though the 1942 Rose Bowl was played in Durham due to World War 2, so the teams have played in Pasadena the same number of times. Both teams own the same number of Rose Bowl wins (0).
What's in it for the participants?
For Duke, 8 wins this season, tying their all-time record against Indiana in football at 2-2, and continuing the trend established by their basketball team of putting up lots of points on the Hoosiers.
For Indiana, it's actually hard to day. Getting to the bowl was the bigger step for the program, and while being in the national spotlight for a few hours is great, the momentum that could come from a big win in New York on TV against a Power 5 school would be a nice Christmas bonus for Kevin Wilson, whose chair should cool down a bit going into next year regardless. Also, revenge for the basketball team, I suppose.
What's in it for the fans?
Well, it's Indiana in a bowl game where they have a good shot of staying competitive if not winning. Which, if you're a real IU fan, is both reason enough to watch the game, and probably reason enough to celebrate and/or get
wasted white-girl wasted schwasted Wisconsin wasted well and truly drunk.
For Duke fans, the basketball team doesn't play again until the 28th, so, you know, it's not like there's anything better to do.
For everyone else, it's #CHAOSTEAM in action one more time in 2015. Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard are probably about as healthy as they've been since the beginning of the season, which means the scoreboard should explode sometime during the third quarter due to sheer usage.
Bullet points that don't fit the above, but should fill in some more details
Directly from the official IU bowl guide, some words about how IU's season went, in between all the heartbreaking defeats:
• Indiana won its final two games for the first time since 2001, its final two road games for the first time since 1982 and its final two games with both being on the road for the first time since 1946.
• IU had not won back-to-back Big Ten games since 2012, two Big Ten road games in the same year since 2001, back-to-back Big Ten road games since 1993 and three road games in a single season since 1994.
So, even if the bowl doesn't go our way, this season has been a success for the Indiana football program. Also, it's me writing an Indiana preview, so here comes the obligatory "what records might Indiana's offense set next" section.
With a passing performance of at least 250 yards, Nate Sudfeld will leave Indiana with a least a share of every single "yardage in a single game" record from 200 yard games through 400 yard games. Sudfeld is also: 4 passing touchdowns away from a share of Indiana's single season passing touchdown record, 111 passing yards away from that single season record, and 84 yards of total offense from 2nd in that single season record (554 out of first). Also, Griffin Oakes is 8 extra points away from Indiana's single season record, held by Mitch Ewald.
Stats out of they way, we'll finish this section with the best description I've seen of this game (if it's from here, take credit in the comments, otherwise I'll assume I just saw it somewhere on "The Internet"): it's a football game being played by two basketball schools in a baseball stadium in hockey weather.
Indiana and Duke share one common opponent on the season: Wake Forest. The Hoosiers beat Wake 31-24, while Duke beat Wake 27-21. Therefore, by the transitive property of Wake Forest, IU wins by 1. That is not my prediction.
Indiana has scored 40 points or more five times. Duke has done so only three times. Conversely, Indiana has given up 40 or more points four times, while Duke has done so only three times. So, a high scoring game is reasonably likely (which you probably would expect anyway, given #CHAOSTEAM).
The question then becomes, who fares better in a high scoring game? A look at Duke's results show a season high point total scored of 55 against North Carolina Central, and a season low of 9 scored against Boston College. Indiana had a high of 54 (Purdue), and a low of 7 (Penn State). However, no team other than the Nittany Lions held Indiana under 26 points, whereas no other team yielded 50 to Duke, and only Army also gave up 40 in regulation (Duke and Virginia Tech were tied at 28 going into overtime, where the Blue Devils won 45-43 in 4 overtimes).
If this were a theoretical exercise, it would be reasonable to assume that Indiana will probably outscore Duke. Of course, defense has at times proven to be a theoretical exercise for Indiana. Whatever you do with this game, one thing is reasonably certain: bet the over. But if you're looking to pick a winner straight up, take the Hoosiers. I know I am, 48-28.