4 keys for Indiana’s game at Iowa

1. Get Nate Sudfeld into an early rhythm: Indiana has seen just how effective Sudfeld can be when he’s able to get the passing game going with the kind of quick, short passing plays that were called in the first half last week against North Texas. Opposing teams will spend the rest of the season trying to stop Tevin Coleman, while challenging Sudfeld and his receiving corps to beat them over the top. The junior quarterback is capable of doing so, having completed over 61 percent of his passes for 1,066 yards. His ability to keep the Iowa defense honest could open things up for Coleman, the nation’s second leading rusher at 168 yards per game. Pittsburgh’s James Conner ran for 155 yards and a score against Iowa earlier this season, proving that good backs can be successful against the Hawkeyes. It’ll be up to Sudfeld to give Coleman that opportunity.

2. Make the most of tight ends: WIth 310 yards allowed per game, Iowa boasts the No. 4 total defense in the Big Ten, just behind Michigan State. That group gets even better in the red zone, where the Hawkeyes have yielded only three touchdowns in 12 red zone appearances. After Anthony Corsaro and Jordan Fuchs combined for four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown against North Texas, it would behoove the Hoosiers to keep their tight ends involved this week. That holds true when the field is shortened in the red zone, where Indiana could look to utilize more two tight end sets.

3. Continued improvement for IU’s defense: The Hoosiers know as well as anyone about the positives and the drawbacks of a dual quarterback approach. That’s what Iowa is bringing into Saturday’s game, with Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard both expected to split snaps. Rudock and Beathard are similarly styled pocket passers, who have yet to break away from the other. Indiana has shown a capacity for getting more creative with its blitzes and stunts in recent weeks and continued progression in both of those areas could help to keep Iowa’s revolving door at quarterback moving. Four of the Hawkeyes’ five games thus far have been decided by eight points or fewer. Keeping this game close and giving the IU offense room to strike are realistic and attainable goals for the improving Hoosier defenders.

4. Seize the opportunity: Saturday presents another chance for Indiana to create its own momentum. The Hoosiers have won back-to-back games only twice under Kevin Wilson, and they haven’t done so in nearly two years. At some point, IU needs to change that. It will take a locked-in, focused effort against a disciplined Hawkeyes team that commits the fewest penalties (3.6 per game) of any Big Ten team. A win over Iowa propels the Hoosiers into a big, nationally-televised homecoming showdown with Michigan State next week. A loss keeps IU stuck in neutral for yet another week.