Indiana v. Duke
Yankees Stadium — Bronx, NY
December 26, 2015 — 3:30 pm Eastern (ABC)
Why You Should Watch
There was once a time when the Big Apple was the epicenter of the college football universe. That time has faded deep into the past, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy seeing a football game broadcast from (a replica of) the most well-known baseball stadium in the world. The former Yankees Stadium hosted dozens of football games between 1923 and 1987, and the new edition of the iconic baseball team’s home has been hosting a bowl game since 2010. This year marks the sixth season since college football’s postseason return to the Bronx, though it will feature two teams with varying degrees of enthusiasm for a trip to New York City to play in a bowl game before New Year’s Eve.
What Each Team Brings to the Table
In his fifth season as the head coach in Bloomington, Kevin Wilson is finally getting the chance to take the Hoosiers into the postseason. This particular Indiana team has a barnstorming top-25-level offense that racked up over 36 points per game. Unfortunately, that offense is paired with a sieve-like defense that gives up over three touchdowns in every contest; the only times that Indiana won were when they managed to put up at least 30 points on the scoreboard. Wilson’s team has been hot and cold all season, winning its first four games before losing six straight. Wins at Maryland and at Purdue allowed Indiana to reach 6-6 in the standings and claim a rare bowl invite. This isn’t a bad team — the Hoosiers managed to hold Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan within a single score in defeat — but they will need the kind of luck that allowed them to rank in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin if they are to claim their first bowl victory since 1991.
Duke Blue Devils
It almost feels weird to say it, but this was actually a drop-off season for the Blue Devils. After going to three straight bowl games and winning 19 games over the past two seasons, it felt weird to see Duke bottom out as it did in 2015. Their statistical output on offense and on defense wasn’t appreciably different than in the past two seasons, and yet David Cutcliffe’s team tapered off with a four-game swoon between Halloween and the penultimate weekend of November. The Blue Devils are fairly disciplined, ranking 31st nationally in penalty yardage against, and they have the benefit of Devon Edwards — a redshirt junior safety who averages over 30 yards per kick return — flipping field position. If Duke, which was tied for 73rd in the country with a net-negative turnover margin, can minimize its mistakes they will have a chance to finally notch the school’s first bowl win since the 1960 Cotton Bowl.
What is Likely to Happen
Somebody has to break their streak of postseason futility when the Hoosiers and Blue Devils meet in Yankee Stadium on Boxing Day. Vegas likes Indiana to pull off the victory, albeit by just 1.5 points. It will be a close-matched affair with the opposing units matched in battles of strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness. Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard will lead a strong IU offense against Jeremy Cash and an equally strong Blue Devil secondary, while Duke’s slightly-down offense will take on an Indiana defense that has been great at dispensing gifts to opponents. The two teams are likely to trade punches throughout the contest, though the Hoosiers are far better built to control the clock and ultimately prevail over their ACC foes.
Indiana 31, Duke 28
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