Indiana Hoosiers (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. No. 19 Utah Utes (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
College Football Foster Farms Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Wednesday December 28th, 8:30PM (EST) 2016
Where: Levi's Stadium Santa Clara, C.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IND +7.5/UTAH -7.5
Over/Under Total: 54
The no. 19 Utah Utes posted a pretty respectable 8-4 SU record this year in the Pac-12 and will seek a postseason victory for yet the 3rd year in a row when they meet the Indiana Hoosiers on Wednesday December 28th at Levi's Stadium in the Foster Farms Bowl. The Utes respectable resume has been put in question considering the fact that only 2 of the Utes' 8 victories come against bowl bound teams. Therefore, there has been some scrutiny towards Utah's schedule and if they are truly deserving of the nation's 19th ranking. Perhaps those questions will be answered when they meet Indiana in what many are finding to be an interesting pairing.
The Hoosiers posted a 6-6 SU regular season mark which is identical to the same record they posted in 2015 before suffering a loss in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Hoosiers look to avoid another postseason loss and finish above the .500 mark for this year's regime. The bad news is that the odds are not in the Hoosiers favor according to oddsmakers. Utah is currently favored by 7.5 points in this game with a total listed at 54. At first glance, the total seems a bit low considering both team's scoring ability and rather questionable defensive play this season. The betting public has also noticed that trend which has driven a ton of early action towards the over and I honestly cannot say I disagree with that bet.
As far as the team that we should back in this game, let's take a closer look at how these teams matchup against each other. One thing that needs to be stated right away is the fact that Indiana has been competitive in every game they played this season. I actually believe this Indiana team is a pretty good football. The problem is they just not have done some things very well like protect the football first and foremost. Quarterback Richard Lagow has really limited this offense's potential with the interceptions this season. Despite throwing for 3,174 yards with 18 scores, he has also thrown 16 interceptions and the Hoosiers have given the football away 26 times this season. Only 6 teams have given the football away more all year.
Outside of the turnovers, Indiana has played pretty well. As stated before, Lagow has racked up more than 3,000 yards passing. Running back Devine Reading has over 1,000 yards on the season and receiver Nick Westbrook has 49 catches for 915 yards and 5 scores as the go to guy on the outside. Therefore, Indiana is plenty good enough to attack Utah's defense on both the ground and through the air. However, I believe Indiana's best chance will be their ability to attack through the air. The Utes defense has been vulnerable to the pass this season so Lagow will have some opportunities in this game but he has to avoid the turnovers to give Indiana a chance.
The Utes have plenty of offense to attack Indiana's defense that has given up 27 points on average this season. The Utes are typically a run first offense behind the talent of running back Joe Williams who has rushed for 1,185 yards and 9 touchdowns already this season. Williams could be the game changer in this matchup and if quarterback Troy Williams could be more consistent then this offense would really be too much for the Hoosiers. However, if Williams continues to struggle like he did down the stretch as Utah lost 3 of their last 4 games, Indiana's defense will feel confident giving extra help to stop the run which could benefit the Hoosiers' chances.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I said before that I still like the over in this game. Also, Coach Kyle Whittingham is 8-1 SU in bowl games at the helm of Utah. I think that trend continues but not by a great effort by Indiana to keep it close. Take Indiana +7.5
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