Brown: Good offense will help Iowa's 'D' against Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Iowa’s offensive mindset Saturday against Indiana at Memorial Stadium is simple: Keep up with the Hoosiers.
Indiana averages 33.1 points a game. That’s the bad news. The good news? The Hoosiers allow 37.2 points.
“We’d like to hold Indiana to no points,” Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “But that’s unrealistic. Up tempo and fast. They score a lot of points. We know, going in, that we’re going to have to score a lot of points and drive the ball on these guys.”
Indiana has been held to less than 27 points just once this season. That was a 29-7 loss at Penn State when quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard were both out with ankle injuries.
Iowa hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a Big Ten game this season. Pittsburgh’s 24 is a season high. Five teams have scored 17 points or less.
So it shapes up to be a track meet on turf Saturday. Iowa’s offense has shown an ability to score points, too – 32.6 overall, 27.5 in Big Ten play. But if the Hawkeyes are to remain undefeated, winning the time of possession battle will be as valuable as putting points on the board.
“Time of possession is important, and when you do play a team that operates at a really quick tempo and is very explosive offensively, like Indiana, it really is to your benefit,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Controlling time of possession has been one reason why No. 10 Iowa is off to the second 8-0 start in school history. Only once, in the Big Ten opener at Wisconsin, has an opponent’s offense had the ball longer than Iowa. The Badgers had a 92-second advantage.
In league play, Iowa has had a 11:42 time of possession edge on Illinois, 14:44 on Northwestern and 5:44 on Maryland. The Hawkeyes rank 11th nationally in time of possession at +33:12.
The Hoosiers’ last three opponents – Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan State – all have had the ball at least 10 minutes more than Indiana.
While those numbers also might reflect the Hoosiers’ quick-strike offensive attack, keeping the ball out of the hands of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard is a good place for the Hawkeyes to start.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.