With five wins in its first six games, Rutgers seemed well on its way toward a smashing debut season in the Big Ten Conference. The Scarlet Knights may have only been 1-1 in their new league at the time, but the defense seemed deep, the offense was adequate and momentum was building. Three dreadful games later, the tables have turned and the Scarlet Knights are a bruised, beaten bunch as they look to secure bowl eligibility Saturday against visiting Indiana.
With road games to conclude the season at Michigan State and Maryland, Rutgers’ best shot to push a bowl streak to four years should come against the Hoosiers, who have lost four straight and have just two victories against FBS teams. Indiana allows 32.3 points per game - 98th among the 125 FBS teams in the nation - and if not for a stunning 31-27 victory at Missouri on Sept. 20, the Hoosiers would be winless on the road. But Indiana does boast the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, churning out 261 yards per game, and might be able to grind the clock and frustrate a desperate Rutgers team playing its home finale.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Rutgers -7.5
ABOUT INDIANA (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten): The Hoosiers have stuck to what works, even to a fault at times this season, relying on the run even when trailing late in the second half. Workhorse backs Tevin Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts, with 1,371 and 445 yards, respectively, have been the beneficiaries. They have combined for 17 touchdowns and 278 carries, and Coleman has two 200-yard games, yet the Hoosiers have averaged just 11.3 points in their last three losses.
ABOUT RUTGERS (5-4, 1-4): The final season in the rollercoaster Rutgers career of senior quarterback Gary Nova hasn't gone according to plan. He threw five interceptions in a 13-10 loss to Penn State, and was benched during a 37-0 loss to Wisconsin, but has one more chance to leave a lasting imprint at home against a Hoosiers' defense that has allowed 37 points per game in conference play. Nova does have 1,995 yards and 14 touchdowns, but has looked listless during this three-game skid, which included 56-17 and 42-24 losses to Ohio State and Nebraska, respectively.
1. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, in his third season, qualified for bowls in his first two years, as the Scarlet Knights lost to Virginia Tech 13-0 in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl and to Notre Dame 29-16 in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl.
2. Indiana quarterbacks have connected with 13 different receivers this season, but none has topped 500 yards. Shane Wynn leads the Hoosiers with 32 catches, 448 yards and two scores, but no one else has more than 177 yards.
3. The Hoosiers have used two kickers this season, Griffin Oakes and Aaron Del Grosso, who have combined to go 28-of-28 on extra points, but 6-of-12 on field goals.
PREDICTION: Rutgers 25, Indiana 20