Game to be played at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Indiana looks to overcome the loss of Kevin Wilson when it takes on No. 19 Utah in Santa Clara, CA on Dec. 28. Wilson led the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl seasons for the first time since 1990-91, but resigned abruptly on Dec. 1 amid allegations of player mistreatment, and Indiana’s top brass wasted no time in promoting first-year defensive coordinator Tom Allen to head coach. Utah limps into the postseason having dropped three of its last four games after a promising start, which included wins over archival BYU and No. 9 USC, and the Utes hope to put the disappointment of losing four contests by a combined 19 points behind them in their first bowl matchup against a Big Ten team since 1996.
The Utes have compiled an impressive 15-4 record in bowl games, including a 9-1 mark under Kyle Whittingham, which is the best winning percentage (90) among coaches in NCAA history. Utah has fared well against Big Ten opponents, winning five of the last six meetings since 2001, including two victories over Indiana during that span, and hopes the trend continues as it searches for its fourth consecutive postseason victory. “The biggest factor in our bowl success is the way our players approach the game and the work they put in,” Whittingham told reporters. “Our guys are excited to head to California which is right in our recruiting footprint.”
Allen – who was nominated for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s top assistant – has engineered a remarkable turnaround on the defensive side of the ball as the Hoosiers improved from 112th to 41st nationally in total defense and 117th to 57th in scoring defense. “We got to this point by playing very good defense and playing together,” Allen told reporters. “Utah will be a tremendous challenge as they are a great football team that has won a lot of bowl games in the last several years.” The key to the game could hinge on the ability of Indiana’s offensive line to slow down Utah’s All-American defensive end Hunter Dimick, as the Hoosiers search for their first postseason win since 1991.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened Utah as 6.5-point favorites, but they have since been bet down slightly to the current number of -6. The total opened at 54 and has been bet up a half-point to sit at 54.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast is calling for a clear night in Santa Clara, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees for the game.
Indiana – WR J. Morris (questionable Wednesday, undisclosed), RB C. Gest (questionable Wednesday, ankle).
Utah – QB – T. Williams (probable Wednesday, knee), RB J. Howard (questionable Wednesday, undisclosed), DB. D. Hatfield (doubtful Wednesday, disciplinary).
ABOUT INDIANA (6-6, 5-7 ATS, 4-8 O/U): Junior quarterback Richard Lagow passed for 3,174 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first season as a starter but also threw 16 interceptions, including five picks over his last four games. Senior offensive lineman Dan Feeney, who has surrendered just two sacks in 45 career games, received first team All-America honors from the Associated Press to become the third player in program history to receive the accolade in back-to-back seasons. Junior linebacker Tegray Scales had a breakout season, registering a Big Ten-best 116 tackles, including 20.5 for loss.
ABOUT UTAH (8-4, 7-5 ATS, 6-6 O/U): Senior running back Joe Williams came out of retirement to register five 100-yard games en route to 1,185 rushing yards, which is the seventh-best single-season total in program history despite missing four games. Sophomore punter Mitch Wishnowsky won the Ray Guy Award with the best net punting average in the nation (44.9) and ensured that a Utah player received the award for the third consecutive season after Tom Hackett was honored in 2014 and 2015. Dimick was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team after leading the conference with 14.5 sacks.
* Indiana is 0-4 ATS in its last four neutral site games.
* Utah is 6-0 ATS in its last six games versus Big Ten opponents.
* Over is 6-2-1 in Indiana’s last nine non-conference games.
* Over is 5-2 in Utah’s last seven bowl games.
For a full list of hot and cold trends click here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is on the favorite in this matchup, with 67 percent of wagers on Utah. As for the total, 63 percent of wagers are on the Over. Click here for in depth consensus data.