4 storylines for Indiana’s game vs. Iowa #iufb

1. Whose big boys win this battle?
Whether on offense or defense, Iowa is winning in the trenches. The Hawkeyes are rushing for over 200 yards per game, while holding the opposition to a mere average of 85.8 yards on the ground each week. Through eight games, Iowa has also allowed only one touchdown. Yes, this is Iowa football. So Jordan Howard, who sounds to be as healthy as he’s been in over a month, will face his stiffest challenge of the season. So, too, will the Hoosiers front seven as they attempt to slow down Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley. Saturday will be only the second career start for Wadley, who replaced injured starter Jordan Canzeri two weeks ago. But in a short span, Wadley has already proven himself a capable replacement. It also helps to have one of the country’s top offensive lines blocking for you.

2. How healthy is C.J. Beathard?
Beathard is expected to start for the Hawkeyes, but he won’t be 100 percent. For the last month, the Iowa quarterback has been dealing with what is believed to be a nagging groin injury. Although he’s been known as a more mobile option under center, the injury has taken away Beathard’s ability to make use of Iowa’s designed bootlegs and rollouts. Beathard told reporters in Iowa City this week that he won’t force himself to play through severe pain, but the plan is for him to be the quarterback this week and for the rest of the season. However, should he need a break, backup Tyler Wiegers has been taking more snaps in practice this week.

3. Indiana needs to be better on 3rd down — on both sides of the ball
During a three-week stretch one month ago Indiana saw significant defensive improvement on third down. Over the last two games, however, the Hoosiers have struggled to get off the field. Rutgers and Michigan State combined to convert 25 of the 40 third-down opportunities against the Hoosiers. After reviewing film during the bye week, IU coach Kevin Wilson said he wanted to focus the defense’s issues on third-and-short and third-and-medium. Today will shot what of progress was made. Offensively, the Hoosiers haven’t necessarily been poor on third down, but Wilson said he wants to see players make more competitive plays when called upon. Having Jordan Howard in the backfield helps, too.

4. Are the Hoosiers ready to steal a win?
By all accounts, morale in the IU locker room seems to be as good as can be expected after the team went 0-for-4 in October, including three losses in deflating fashion. This is the most competitive team IU coach Kevin Wilson has fielded during his five years in Bloomington, but the next step is getting the Hoosiers to play winning football with consistency. This shaped up to be a year where a growing IU program would probably lose a game it shouldn’t — it did three weeks ago against Rutgers — and win a game it shouldn’t. Indiana has yet to do the latter, but it has come close in each of its first two games this season against top 10 opponents, taking No. 1 Ohio State to the wire and battling No. 7 Michigan State deep into the fourth quarter. Indiana has a knack for playing Iowa well in Bloomington. Is this the week Indiana earns its big win?