Start Time: Thursday, September 1st - 7:30 pm EST
Location: FIU Stadium, Miami, Florida
Stream: WATCH ESPN
Betting Line: FIU +9
Series Record: Indiana leads 1-0
Football is back. Let me repeat that again. Football is back! It’s a Thursday night special as FIU will look to represent the G5 and pull off the upset against the mighty Big Ten, Indiana Hoosiers.
Last year FIU was extremely close to pulling off the upset but the Hoosiers were able to pull away late for a 36-22 win in Bloomington.
Now FIU will try to even the series lead and defeat Indiana as the Hoosiers are looking to win their first season opener on the road since 2005.
Under Kevin Wilson the Hoosiers have fielded excellent offenses and below average defenses. This year its more of the same with a big question mark at quarterback to start the season.
Richard Lagow will be the new starting quarterback for IU this year and the junior will be making his first career start. His targets will all be familiar faces from last year’s game as Simmie Cobbs Jr., Ricky Jones, and Mitchell Page headline a veteran receiving core.
As it is, Indiana’s offense is expected to look more of the same. A pass heavy offense that puts pressure on the defense to make tackles in space. Without Jordan Howard in the backfield, you could see more passing tendencies than usual from the Hoosiers as they won’t feature a running back as good as him.
Defensively, the Hoosiers are still a mess and I don’t see that changing this year. They are on their fifth defensive coordinator in as many years as Tom Allen comes over from USF. Allen will try and get the Hoosiers to focus on the basics: Tackling.
FIU had a field day in the open space against the Hoosiers as they could not seem to bring down the ball carrier on the first try.
The Hoosiers must replace major contributors on the defensive line that was below average at best last year. They do however, retain every starter from last year’s linebacking core and secondary.
Ron Turner welcomes back every key contributor from last year’s team and this year seems to be the best team FIU as had since T.Y. Hilton suited up for the Panthers.
With Alex McGough, Alex Gardner, and Thomas Owens, the Panthers should be able to score consistently this year. Last year against Indiana, Thomas Owens had a career day as he exploded for nine catches, 166 yards, and two touchdowns.
With only one starter missing from last year’s offensive line, FIU could be just as successful against the Hoosiers in the passing game. Where the Panthers will probably make their money however, is with Alex Gardner leading the way as the Hoosiers rushing defense finished 109th in S&P+ metrics and with new faces on the d-line, they could be even worse.
With experienced players in the secondary FIU matches pretty evenly against IU’s receivers. Especially with a new quarterback running the show.
With so many new moving parts in Wilson’s spread offense the Panthers have the potential to make a ton of plays. But with a defensive line that features new pass rushers it could create a feast or famine situation for the secondary.
FIU Stadium has never been known for a raucous environment but Thursday night would be a good time to change that. The Hoosiers could struggle mightily on offense if they play an FIU defense feeding off the crowd.
I have been back in forth on this all week. Indiana loses a lot of players on both sides of the line of scrimmage and FIU returns key contributors on both lines.
If FIU can win the line of scrimmage they will pull off the upset. But I don’t think they have enough pass rushers to neutralize Indiana’s offense which is going to have success passing the ball.
Because of that I like the Hoosiers to sneak by FIU 28-23.