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Wake Forest Football Opponent Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

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The Hoosiers will roll into Winston-Salem on September 26th for a battle between two squads that will look to improve on disappointing 2014 seasons.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Indiana Hoosiers

Date: September 26th, 2015

Time: TBA

Stadium: BB&T Field (Capacity: 31,500)

Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (5th year; 14-34 overall)

Series History: No previous matchups

2014 Record: 4-8 (1-7 in Big 10)

Who would have thought that a Wake Forest-Indiana matchup would create so much drama? Back on June 3, Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson claimed that his team would "kick Wake Forest's ass."

I'm not sure what is more ridiculous, that a coach with a career 41% win percentage is talking trash, or that he's doing so to a program like Wake Forest. It's not exactly going out on a limb to claim you'll beat a team coming off of one of the worst offensive seasons in recent memory. But maybe it's not that ridiculous, because this could end up being a very winnable game for the Demon Deacons.

Kevin Wilson certainly inherited a mess in Indiana when he took the helm five years ago; the program had finished the season ranked in the top-25 just twice in the past 40 years. After posting just one win in 2011, the team edged up to five wins in 2013 before dropping to four this past year. They had some disappointing losses (Bowling Green, Maryland) and starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost to injury during the team's sixth game against Iowa.

Conceivably, this season should produce a bowl appearance for the Hoosiers. If they cannot produce six wins out of the schedule below, Wilson's time in Bloomington likely would come to an end.

2015 Schedule
Sept. 5th
Southern Illinois
Sept. 12th Florida International
Sept. 19th Western Kentucky
Sept. 26th at Wake Forest
Oct. 3rd Ohio State
Oct. 10th at Penn State
Oct. 17th Rutgers
Oct. 24th at Michigan State
Nov. 7th Iowa
Nov. 14th Michigan
Nov. 21st at Maryland
Nov. 28th at Purdue

On the offensive side of the ball, the Hoosiers return Sudfeld, who played fairly well before his injury. Their biggest task will undoubtedly be to fill the shoes of running back Tevin Coleman, who was drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons this spring. Coleman broke the 2,000 yard rushing mark, averaged 7.5 yards per carry and was a unanimous All-American. That kind of production will be nearly impossible to replicate, but the Hoosiers do have some solid replacements on the roster. Jordan Howard, a transfer from UAB, and Devine Redding should prove to be a reliable pair in the backfield.

Defense is a bit of a mystery. The Hoosiers returning sacks leader from last season is a nose tackle who managed just 3.5 sacks. Their top two corners from 2014 are gone, leaving a handful of sophomores fighting for starting jobs on the outside. One of the several younger guys up front will need to step up as a competent pass rusher or the similarly young secondary could be in for a long season.

Here is a breakdown of how the teams compared in various statistical categories in 2014. All figures are in per game averages except for turnovers.

Wake Forest Statistic Indiana
176.3 (109th) Passing Yards 141.2 (122nd)
39.9 (127th) Rushing Yards 263.6 (10th)
14.8 (127th) Points For 25.1 (90th)
26.4 (62nd) Points Against 32.8 (102nd)
186.6 (13th) Pass Yards Against 251.1 (98th)
182.7 (t-84th) Rush Yards Against 182.7 (t-84th)
369 (42nd) Total Yards Against 434 (94th)
19 (t-74th) Turnovers Gained 17 (t-92nd)
21 (t-53rd) Turnovers Lost 19 (t-42nd)

Prediction: Indiana's season is really in the hands of a couple question marks on both sides of the ball. Though thanks to a soft out of conference schedule, it is really not a stretch to see this team squeaking out six wins to earn a bowl appearance. I think Wake Forest is one of those wins, and the Hoosiers will leave Winston-Salem with a 24-14 victory.