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Game Seven Preview: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Northwestern Wildcats

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NCAA Football: Nebraska at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Who, Where, When: The Hoosiers travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Kickoff on Saturday is at 11am local time (noon Eastern) on BTN; Scott Graham and J Leman have the call. These two teams haven’t faced each other since 2012, a Northwestern victory in Evanston. Indiana’s last win was in 2008, and the Hoosiers are 34-46-1 all time against the Wildcats.

Big Man on Campus: Tegray Scales continues to be the leader of Indiana’s defensive resurgence, recording yet another team-leading double digit tackle game, this time making 12 (including 2 tackles for loss). On special teams, Chase Dutra recorded a blocked punt that put IU on the board against Nebraska, the first time IU blocked a punt since 2012 against Ohio State.

Northwestern Thoughts by LPW and MNW:

LPW: I’m feeling good about this game. Our offense is firing on all cylinders now that our wide receivers, especially Austin Carr, have stepped up to take pressure of Justin Jackson the BALL CARRIER. Clayton Thorson’s throwing better too.

I think this game will be just like last week against MSU, a shootout. If there’s anything Kevin Wilson knows, its offense. Indiana scares me because they’ve come oh so close to knocking off top teams recently, and I fear they might break through this week against our defense, especially with our banged up secondary.

MNW: Count me as one who's excited to see the defensive side of this showdown. A lot of Northwestern's success has come on some good 3rd down play (6/16 against Iowa, 10/19 against MSU), and the 'Cats are mired in 69th nationally at 40%, while Indiana ranks 29th, allowing just 34% conversion.

With IU allowing 4 ypc and the 'Cats leaning, as always, on JJtBC, it is imperative that Northwestern get short third down situations and keep Indiana's corners biting up on the Austin Carrs and Garrett Dickersons of the world, opening up the sidelines for Flynn Nagel.

Defensively, what interests me for the 'Cats are their struggles with running QBs. Zach Terrell kept the 'Cats honest with his legs and Tommy Armstrong totally exposed them. Northwestern's LBs will need to keep an eye on Lagow (even as a pro-style QB not prone to run) and maintain discipline in the middle of the field to help the safeties clamp down on the big play.

Honestly, no idea what to expect. Northwestern is a bizarre 3-3 and with Team Chaos coming to town on Homecoming, best to just let the chips fall where they may.

By the by, the last time IU came to Evanston for Homecoming, it was 2009 and Indiana blew a 28-3 lead to lose 29-28 thanks to a Stefan Demos FG.

IU, since I know Candy loves weird facts in his previews, is also the only stadium I know of where Northwestern fans have ever done a "Go U || N-U" call and response chant across the stadium. I proudly led it. We won, 59-38. After the game was over and they sang the fight song to their parents in the regular visitors' seats, the team came across the field and sang it with us. Great memories.

How This Game Will Go During Basketball Season:

MNW: Not well.

Candystripes: Indiana and Northwestern tangle twice during Big Ten play, in late January at Welsh-Ryan and late February at Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall. While you can never really count a road game as a definite win during the B1G season, it would be a big upset if Indiana can’t take down the pair of games. Not to say an upset can’t happen, just that it would be a surprise if it did.

Prediction:

MNW: I still have my doubts about the NU secondary. Big plays sink us late. 27-24, IU.

Candystripes: I would love to see Indiana’s offense get back on track, and I think it kinda has to happen now if the Hoosiers are going to make anything out of this season. It doesn’t need to get back to the 40-50 points per game level, but it needs something in the area of multiple touchdowns for me to feel like it’s working. If the defense wants to bring in a couple of scores, that would work for a bit, though you can’t count on that continuing every game. I’ll take Indiana 34 - Northwestern 27, but I’m not sure how good I really feel about us breaking 30 points.

Next Week: The Hoosiers come home to face Maryland in the mid-afternoon time slot, in a game that might make or break some postseason aspirations.