Pick Indiana to Break Purdue's Hearts in Low-Scoring Thriller

Indiana Hoosiers players in action

Rainman M.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 2:07 PM UTC

Purdue (5-6) hosts Indiana (5-6) for their 93rd in-state rivalry game. The winner receives both the Old Oaken Bucket and bowl eligibility. Purdue is favored by a field goal. The total has been bet up to 49.

Free NCAAF Pick: Indiana +3 and 'Under' 51.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Indiana Hoosiers vs Purdue Boilermakers  

Game totals in Indiana games are typically determined by their run defense.  The 'over' is 4-0 in Indiana games when the Hoosiers allow 100+ rush yards.

The Hoosiers allowed 40+ points to Penn State, Ohio State, Maryland, and Wisconsin. Each of those teams feature either a balanced offense with an elite running back or a run-first offense.

Purdue's offense shares neither component. They rank 112th in run play percentage, meaning that they are a pass-first team. They rank 68th in yards per carry. 

Against every other team besides the four aforementioned, Indiana has yet to allow over 20 points in four quarters. Their defensive successes have come against pass-first teams, such as UVA and Michigan State.  

Detractors like to point out that Indiana is 2-3 ATS on the road.  But they would be 2-0 ATS on the road against those two pass-first teams if they had not purposely allowed Michigan State to score late in the game so that their offense could get the ball back.

After containing Sparty's mobile quarterback Brian Lewerke and giving Penn State's quarterback Trace McSorley his worst rushing numbers on the season, Indiana seems ready for Purdue's mobile quarterback. Elijah Sindelar. Their strength against mobile quarterback derives in large part from their ability to penetrate into the backfield. The Hoosiers, led by Robert McCray and Tegray Scales' combined 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, rank 8th in team sack percentage.

Stylistically, Purdue's pass-first offensive style, that features a mobile quarterback, plays into the hands of Indiana's defense.

The Boilermakers' offense lacks the proven ability to threaten Indiana's top-30 defense. The only time that the Boilermakers scored 30+ against a conference opponent was against Minnesota, thanks to a last-second interception touchdown. In conference play, they mustered one 20+ point performance against a top-50 defense, 24 against Iowa, 10 points of which were gifts from Iowa's special teams. Overall, Purdue's lackluster offense ranks 99th in points per play and 93rd in points per game.

Mike Debord, Indiana's offensive coordinator, is notorious for his conservative play-calling. His Hoosiers like to grind out long drives without taking many risks. They are 8th in plays per game but 116th in yards per play.  Their difficulties on offense stem largely from their lack of rush attack. They rank 110th in rush yards per carry. Indiana's slow offensive tempo means that they will likely take more time to score. Their one-dimensionality on offense makes them less of a scoring threat.

The Hoosiers, behind Richard Lagow's mediocre passing numbers, lack the aerial attack to drive the game 'over.' But the key difference in the game will be Lagow's ability to connect with star wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr., who will enjoy a major size advantage against the cornerback defending him. Between Cobbs and Luke Timian, Indiana can exploit a Purdue secondary whose pass defense statistics are inflated by the lack of good aerial attacks which they have faced and which mask the lack of proven quality in their senior cornerbacks.

 

The Verdict

Purdue has hit 6 straight 'unders' because the one-dimensionality of their offense makes them more predictable for opposing defenses. Purdue's defense should help keep this game 'under,' but Indiana has enough of an advantage in the passing game to achieve an upset on our NCAAF Picks.

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