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UConn football 2019 opponent preview: Indiana Hoosiers

The Huskies’ will hit the road to kick off this non-conference series.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 3, UConn football heads to Bloomington, Indiana for its first road game of the season against the Big Ten’s Indiana Hoosiers. It will be the third-ever meeting between these two teams, with the Huskies winning the first two games in the all-time series.

It doesn’t help that they now play in a division with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State, but Indiana has not won more than seven games in a season since 1993. The Hoosiers only won seven games once and posted six wins just three times in that same span. These are numbers that even UConn fans are allowed to laugh at, which is really saying a lot.

UConn fans can also thank Indiana for giving the Huskies a warm welcome to the big leagues in the 34-10 victory that opened Rentschler Field in 2003—ohh, how we used to laugh. Randy Edsall’s Huskies won the series’ return road meeting in 2006, 14-7.

This glorious winning streak is likely to see its end on September 21st, as this year’s Hoosiers enter the season with high hopes. Well, they’re as high as you can get for a program without much of a history of success.

Indiana returns many key contributors from last year’s 5-7 team, especially on offense, and is projected by S&P+ to beat UConn by over 30 points, giving the Huskies a three percent win probability. I don’t care what you think about them fancy analytics, that does not look promising.

2018 Season

After going 5-7 two years ago in head coach Tom Allen’s first season, the Hoosiers repeated that performance in 2018. It started with three straight wins, including a triumph over Virginia, on their way to a 4-1 record through five games. But they lost their next four and six of their final seven to close out the season. Indiana took care of the bad teams on the schedule and struggled against solid competition, barely getting past Maryland for that fifth win.

On the field, freshman running back Stevie Scott enjoyed a breakout campaign, finishing with over 1100 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. Starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey was the team’s second-leading rusher with 354 yards and five touchdowns. He also put up over 2800 passing yards while throwing for 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ramsey actually lost the starting job to freshman Michael Penix Jr. early in the season, but Penix suffered a season-ending injury that put him back into the lineup.

Defensively, the Hoosiers were middle-of-the-pack for FBS in S&P+, coming in at 75th, but fell squarely in the bottom half of the Big Ten in most major statistics such as yards per carry, completion percentage, and yards allowed. They were particularly vulnerable through the air, something UConn fans can certainly relate to.

2019 Outlook

They may not be a Big Ten power, but Indiana has the tools and continuity to improve on its 2018 season. When it comes to this game, the Hoosiers should have enough offensive firepower and a good enough defense to keep UConn in check.

At quarterback, Ramsey is in a competition with Penix for the starting job under new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer. Whoever ends up under center will have a talented crew of skill position players to work with.

Scott is joined in the backfield by Ronnie Walker Jr., a classmate who was a more heralded recruit coming out of high school but hasn’t experienced the same success. Still, Walker has shown flashes and will be a talented option to keep an eye on in the backfield and isn’t the only offensive threat. Indiana returns three of its top four pass-catchers from last year, though it was a relatively modest passing attack. At offensive line, they have two guys on preseason awards lists and plenty of experience.

Defensively, Indiana is counting on a lot of new guys in the front six of its 4-2-5 scheme. They have more experience in the backfield, but the secondary has had some rough outings. However, those bad outings were mostly against against very good offensive teams, something UConn probably is not.

Matchup Against UConn

Indiana should be able to establish the run offensively and take control of this game. With so many new pieces, the Husky offense will still be figuring itself out. The best-case scenario for UConn is a run-heavy, low-scoring affair where a special teams gaffe and/or defensive touchdown makes it a much closer game than expected, aka The Randy Edsall Special.

Prediction: Indiana 31 - UConn 14