Hoosiers could turn to 'heavy package' again in visit to Rutgers
Tyler Natee was part of an Indiana quarterback rotation last week that got the Hoosiers' struggling running game off the ground, producing three 100-yard runners.
Darron Cummings / AP
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Winning in the Big Ten Conference hasn't been easy for Rutgers, except when it comes to Indiana.
In two-plus years in the conference, the Scarlet Knights (2-6, 0-5) have posted a 4-17 record in the league. They won three times in 2014, once the following year and none this year under new coach Chris Ash.
Indiana (4-4, 2-3) is the common thread in the wins. Rutgers beat the Hoosiers 45-23 at High Point Solutions Stadium two years ago and rallied from a 25-point deficit last year in Bloomington to post a 55-52 victory in a game that featured 1,223 combined yards of total offense.
Coming off a bye week, Rutgers will try to snap a five-game losing streak and make it three in a row over the Hoosiers when they meet on Saturday.
"For us, we don't focus on jersey names and logos," Ash said. "It's all about going out and playing the best that we can play. We don't talk about wins and losses, it's about what it's going to take to win."
Rutgers had one of its better conference games this season in the week before the bye. It rallied from a 21-3 deficit and took a 32-31 lead with 4:01 remaining against Minnesota before losing on a late field goal.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson saw his team snap a three-game losing streak last weekend with a 42-36 victory over Maryland. The Hoosiers rushed for a season-high 414 yards and had 650 yards in total offense, which tied for the fourth most in school history.
Wilson understands Rutgers has changed under Ash, the former co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
"We are looking at them this year and we are evaluating our team this week," Wilson said. "It is not a revenge game. To me, every year, every game, every team, every week is different."
Here are some things to watch in the game:
GIO AGAIN: Quarterback Gio Rescigno made his first career start at Minnesota and woke up the Scarlet Knights' offense. He went 22 for 38 with 220 yards and three touchdowns. It was the most yards passing by a Scarlet Knights quarterback in their first start since Chas Dodd had 322 in 2010. The redshirt sophomore completed passes to seven different receivers.
"I think (Rescigno) throws the ball really well," Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen said. "That gives them a dimension that they really need to have. It forces you, as a defense, to not gang up and sell out to stop the run. He gives them the ability to hit the big play, but he has also shown the ability to run the ball."
HEAVY PACKAGE: Last week, Indiana let three players take snaps at quarterback -- starting quarterback Richard Lagow, a pure pocket passer, backup Zander Diamont, a dynamic runner, and 270-pound freshman running back Tyler Natee. The combination got the Hoosiers' struggling running game off the ground, producing three 100-yard runners. Will they take a similar track this week? Wilson would rather keep the Scarlet Knights guessing. But even if the Hoosiers do go with the heavy package, there's no certainty it will be as successful.
BYE WEEK: Rutgers and Iowa, the last Big Ten teams to get a week off, played eight games before getting a bye. The Scarlet Knights should return a little healthier. Rescigno had a week to rest a sore hamstring and free safety Kiy Hester may be back from an injury that caused him to miss last three starts.
TIPPING THE SCALES: Hoosiers linebacker Tegray Scales has been on quite a run. For six straight games, Scales has been the Hoosiers' top tackler and he now has the nation's longest active streak of consecutive games with 10 or more tackles (six). It's the longest by any Big Ten player since 2012, and he's tied for No. 3 in the Football Bowl Subdivision for most games this season (six) with double-digit tackles. Scales had 13 tackles, 11 solos, last week in a victory over Maryland.
ANNIVERSARY: About 50 members of Rutgers' 2006 team are expected back to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the squad that earned the university its first bowl victory. The team went 11-2 and posted a 37-10 win over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl. The Scarlet Knights posted their biggest win ever that season, knocking off No. 3 Louisville 28-25 on Nov. 9 in a battle of unbeaten teams.