Indiana produced 601 total yards, averaged 8.1 yards per play and converted at a 61.5-percent clip on third down during a 42-10 victory over Bowling Green last week.
But the best news for the Hoosiers was that the offense took a backseat to the defense.
It was only the second time in 61 games that Indiana allowed 10 or fewer points, and the lone touchdown by the Falcons came on a punt return late in the first quarter. Plus, Indiana forced two turnovers that led to 14 points.
Indiana, which has played in one bowl game in the past two decades, has the offense to get back to the postseason. Coach Kevin Wilson’s fast-paced attack leads the Big Ten Conference in several offensive categories, including scoring (50.0 points per game) and total offense (571.3 yards per game).
But the Hoosiers’ defense has been terrible — remember the school-record 564 rushing yards the University of Wisconsin piled up en route to a 62-14 victory at Indiana last season? — which is why last week’s performance was encouraging for the Hoosiers.
Of course, that performance will be labeled an aberration if Indiana (2-1) can’t follow it up with another solid one when it lines up as two-point underdog at home today against Missouri (2-0). The Tigers are averaging 48.0 points and 539.0 yards per game.
Side note to this game: This is the first time since 1990 that Indiana will face a team from the SEC not named Kentucky.
Pick: Indiana 40, Missouri 37.
Purdue (+23.5) at UW: This series has been one-sided of late, with the common refrain being the Badgers piling up massive rushing numbers (1,511 yards, 18 touchdowns over the past five meetings). No reason to believe much will change this time around.
Pick: UW 38-13.
Western Michigan (+16) at Iowa: Iowa’s Mark Weisman already has carried the ball 85 times this season. Will he still be standing by the time November rolls around? A light day might be in order for Weisman against the Broncos, who already have lost to Michigan State and Northwestern this season and will complete the Big Ten trifecta.
Pick: Iowa 30-14.
No. 15 Michigan (-18.5) at Connecticut: One week, the Michigan quarterback’s NFL stock is soaring. The next, people are worried if his confidence is shaken. Welcome to life as a full-time starter, Devin Gardner.
Pick: Michigan 42-20.
Michigan State (+5) at No. 22 Notre Dame: The Spartans have been outscored 51-16 in their past two games against the Fighting Irish. The biggest issue? The lack of a ground attack for Michigan State, which has produced 79 total rushing yards and 1.6 yards per carry in those meetings.
Pick: Notre Dame 17-13.
San Jose State (+4) at Minnesota: Some bad signs for the Golden Gophers: Quarterback Philip Nelson has an injured hamstring and the Spartans have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Not to mention the fact that the health of coach Jerry Kill, who suffered another in-game seizure last week, continues to be a major topic of conversation in Minneapolis and beyond.
Pick: Minnesota 26-23.
South Dakota State at Nebraska (no line): If Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says mean things about a loyal fan base behind closed doors, you can only imagine what he’s saying about the Cornhuskers’ atrocious defense.
Pick: Nebraska 38-20.
Maine at No. 18 Northwestern (no line): Wildcats junior tailback Treyvon Green has filled in nicely for injured senior starter Venric Mark, producing 353 and five touchdowns through the first three games of the season.
Pick: Northwestern 41-17.
Florida A&M at No. 4 Ohio State (no line): The scoreboard likely won’t be pretty for the Rattlers, but the bottom line will: Florida A&M will collect $900,000 for its trip to Ohio Stadium.
Pick: Ohio State 58-7.
Kent State (+22) at Penn State: The numbers were ugly for the Penn State defense during a 34-31 home loss to Central Florida last week. The Nittany Lions allowed 7.8 yards per play, including 14.4 yards per pass completion.
Pick: Penn State 34-16.
Last week: 10-2 overall, 5-5 vs. the spread.
Season: 32-4 overall, 19-10 vs. the spread.