Lowes Line


Indiana Preview and Prediction

By Jersey Cat

Matchup: Northwestern Wildcats (1-6, 0-5 B1G) at Indiana Hoosiers (6-2, 3-2 B1G)
Date: Saturday, November 2, 2019, 6:00 p.m. CDT
Line: Northwestern (+10.5)
Over/Under: (43.5)
Money line:  Northwestern (+340), Indiana (-455)



Enjoy a cold beverage at the Huddle.
Dance the night away at 1999.
Order a gyro with extra meat, cheese fries, and a Doctor at Jim’s Char-broil.

What do these things have in common? You could do all of them since the last time Northwestern scored a touchdown.  Not really, but it kinda feels like it though, right?

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.  The Lowes Line from Week 1 gave a glimpse at how tough the first half of the schedule was: 

“The schedule this season is a brute, with six of the first seven games against teams in the AP preseason top 25.  In addition to this week at #25 Stanford, the ‘Cats have #18 Michigan State, #5 Ohio State, and #20 Iowa at home, while traveling to Camp Randall for #19 Wisconsin and Lincoln for #24 Nebraska.  Add to this the annual September inability to show up against non-conference opponents at home, which could make the tilt with UNLV in two weeks more of struggle than it should be, and NU could be looking up at the rest of the B1G West come late October.”

NU is indeed looking up at the rest of the B1G West at the end of October.  But losing games to tough opponents is one thing.  Not even competing and absolute ineptitude is another.  In the month of October, Northwestern has scored one touchdown, and even that came against a Nebraska team who has surrendered 38 points to both Illinois and Indiana.

The crack Lowes Line staff has managed to get some footage of Fitz, on the left below, speaking with offensive coordinator Mick McCall, after the two reviewed the Iowa game film:

As Fitz likes to say, stats are for losers.  As such, we should talk about a few:  Pass efficiency, the college equivalent of passer rating in the NFL.  NU’s team pass efficiency is more than 20 points worse than ANY other FBS team right now.  DFL, as they like to say in golf terms.  Worse than Rutgers last year.  On pace to be the worst of the last ten years in all of college football except for Army in 2017, a team that attempted 65 throws in an entire season.


I realize Hunter Johnson has been out following a minor knee injury and due to a serious health concern for his mother, which is understood to be trending positive.  Best wishes to his mother for a speedy recovery, and props to Fitz for running the team in a way that allows a player to focus on his family at a difficult time.


That said, is it unrealistic to think third string QB Aidan Smith could be somewhat capable?  Yes, Sparty, Wisconsin, and Ohio State are likely the three best defenses on NU’s schedule, but 1 TD against 6 INTs with a 48% completion percentage?  Not winning too many games with those numbers.  


I mean, seriously, do other schools ever truly have capable third string QBs?  Sorry, that’s my trick ear, what’s that you say?  Cardale Jones, is it?  What’d he ever do besides step in and win the Big Ten Championship 59-0, then beat top-ranked Alabama in the national semi, and then go on to top Oregon for the national championship?  An unfair and exaggerated comparison, I get it.  But we’re not asking for a national championship.  We’re asking for a touchdown against Iowa. 


There’s talk Hunter Johnson might be back for Indy this week, which is nice, but as long as Mick McCall is calling the offense, it may as well be Al Czervik.  Add to this that wide receiver JJ Jefferson and running back Isaiah Bowser are out for the game and it doesn’t bode well.  


Indiana is on a three-game winning streak and already bowl-eligible.  For a team that’s had one winning season in 25 years, they have a solid chance at getting to 8 wins and the potential to put up some serious points on NU, even though we know it’ll only take about 7.


Would love to be proven wrong, but there’s nothing that leads me to be remotely optimistic.  NU needs to run the table to avoid a losing season.  Throw that in the category of possible, not probable. 


Pick:  Indiana 20, Northwestern 6.  


Season to Date:  Straight up: (5-2); Against the spread: (4-3)


The Lowes Line is an e-mailed description of NU's next football game, with an invariably fearless prediction of the outcome and how NU will fare against what the other "experts" predict.  Our good friend and Brother Marcus Lowes began the broadcast mailing in 1996.  The crack Lowes Line Staff (alumni Jersey Cat, GallopingGrapes, P.S. O'Briant, Eric Cockerill, Joel Kanvik, Charlie Simon, and MO'Cats) have continued the Line in memory of Marcus.  For the 2019 season it has returned to HailToPurple.com, for anyone to enjoy.  Thanks to the gridiron brain trust at the Lowes Line!