Who, When, Where: Tonight, Indiana travels to Santa Clara, California to face the Utah Utes in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is 8:30pm Eastern time (5:30pm local time) on Fox. Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt have the call, with Shannon Spake on the sidelines. Utah leads the “series” 2-1, with Indiana’s lone win being the first meeting in 1975. Utah’s wins came back to back in 2001 and 2002.
Big Men on Campus: Dan Feeney and Tegray Scales earned All-American Honors for 2016 (Feeney First Team, Scales Second Team). Feeney also earned First Team All-B1G honors, while Scales and Rashard Fant earned Second Team All-B1G from the media (and Third Team from the coaches). Marcelino Ball, Marcus Oliver, Mitchell Paige, Devine Redding, and Nick Westbrook all earned unanimous All B1G Honorable Mention, while Ralph Green III and Richard Lagow earned the Coaches Honorable Mention, and Jonathan Crawford and Ricky Jones earned the Media Honorable Mention.
Interesting Facts About the University of Utah (and Utah Football): The Utes boast a 15-4 record in bowl games, but are 0-1 against Big Ten members in bowls (a 1996 loss to Wisconsin in the Copper Bowl). The University of Utah hosted the Olympic Village for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. Utah was the first school to produce the #1 pick in both the NBA and NFL Drafts in the same year (2005; Andrew Bogut and Alex Smith). Finally, among former Utah coaches is one Urban Meyer, who you might know for his past success with the Florida Gators.
How This Might Play Out if it was Basketball: Utah is 9-3 on the year so far, with their losses coming to Butler, Xavier, and San Francisco. A quick perusal of the schedule shows that the only good team they’ve beaten is Stephen F. Austin, and the Lumberjacks aren’t having a great year themselves. If the game was in Utah, the Utes might have a chance, but in Assembly Hall, it’s somewhat likely that IU would roll to victory.
Prediction: Utah is a fairly balanced offensive team, with a somewhat higher points per game average than the Hoosiers. They are marginally worse on yards given up per game on defense, but still slightly better on not letting those yards turn into points. Nearly the last thing Indiana wants this game to turn into is a shootout, given the struggles IU’s offense has had at various points, but a shootout would still be better than falling behind early by multiple scores. Indiana needs to come out strong on both sides of the ball (but especially on offense) if they want to have a chance in this game. I think, in the end, the Hoosiers come up just short yet again, losing 35-28, but making a respectable showing in Tom Allen’s head coaching debut.
Next Up: Win, lose, or by some vaguely impossible chance draw, this is the end of the Hoosiers’ 2016 campaign. What next year brings, it is far too early to say.