FORT WAYNE – Records: Hoosiers (1-0); Midshipmen (0-0)
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM
3 matchups to watch
IU return game vs. Navy special teams: This might be the one area where the Hoosiers have a distinct advantage. Return man Shane Wynn gave IU a 58-yard punt return in Week 1 against Indiana State, and the junior receiver should be able to use that speed again against the Midshipmen. Navy’s offense and defense aim to take athleticism out of the equation and make disciplined football the priority. However, it can’t manipulate special teams in that fashion. The Hoosiers need to take advantage of that and create some big plays in their return game to set the offense up with a short field.
IU linebackers vs. the triple-option: The Hoosiers will rely on their defensive ends and outside linebackers primarily to stop Navy’s potent triple-option offense. The Midshipmen’s system is designed to put linebackers on an island and force them to make open-field tackles. For IU to be successful today, it will need disciplined linebacker play. Defensive end play will also be important, as the end is usually who the quarterback reads to determine if he will hand the ball off or run with it. If the Hoosiers can disguise their looks well enough and play to their responsibilities, they should be able to neutralize the triple-option.
IU offense vs. the Navy contain defense: IU coach Kevin Wilson talked at length not just about the challenges the triple-option poses, but the Midshipmen’s defensive scheme. Navy plays an umbrella defense, where it keeps plays in front of it and forces offenses to work their way down the field methodically. The Hoosiers might take some shots downfield, but the most important thing for IU today is to minimize mistakes. Navy takes a good chunk off the clock when it is on offense, which limits the other team’s offensive opportunities. IU can’t rush. It has to make the most of its chances and take what’s given to it on each possession.
Prediction: Indiana 42, Navy 20