Insight Bowl Preview

Dec. 27, 2007

Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
5:30 p.m. ET - NFL Network (FOX-59 locally in Indiana)

Big Ten Bowl Trip: Insight Bowl

INDIANA: Web | Roster | Stats
Oklahoma State: Web | Roster | Schedule | Stats

Pts./ Game
Pts. Allowed/ Game
Time of Possession
Yds Allowed/ Game
Yds/ Game
Yds Allowed/ Game
Completion %

Overall: Tied, 1 Game
Last Time Out: 1930 - Tied, 7-7
Noteworthy: the lone meeting between the two teams took place in Bloomington in 1930 with both teams tying at the end of regulation, 7-7.

Quite possibly the feel-good story of the college football season, Indiana secured its first bowl berth in 14 years by beating rival Purdue in dramatic fashion in the regular-season finale and ensuring late head coach Terry Hoeppner's dream for the team to "Play 13." The Hoosiers last played in the postseason in the 1993 Independence Bowl, falling 45-20 to Virginia Tech. They earned six wins in 1994 but were left without an invitation to a bowl, thus beginning more than a decade of struggles. Yet when Hoeppner arrived before the 2005 season, he changed the mentality of the Hoosier football program and had the team pointed in the right direction before he died of complication from a brain tumor on June 19.

As interim head coach, Bill Lynch led the Hoosiers to bowl eligibility with their sixth win of the season in a 38-20 win over Ball State. After suffering a heartbreaking come-from-behind rally from Northwestern, the Hoosiers needed to clinch their seventh win against rival Purdue. Austin Starr's game-winning field goal gave Indiana a 27-24 win in Bloomington, the Old Oaken Bucket, and the chance to win eight games since 1993. It also dropped the interim tag from Lynch's title, as he was awarded a contract through the 2012 season during the break.

Oklahoma State has advanced to the postseason in five of the last six years. But despite winning five of their first eight games, the Cowboys dropped three of their last four to finish tied for third in the Big 12 South.

The combination of dual-threat sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis and junior wideout James Hardy gave Hoosier fans a great deal to cheer about this season as the combo helped power an offense that ranked fourth overall in conference in scoring (31.6) and passing (237.8). Lewis finished the regular season fourth in the Big Ten with 236.6 passing yards per game, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His team-high 653 rushing yards and eight touchdowns combined to give Lewis the conference's third-best total offense average of 291.0 yards per game. In the last three games, he totaled nearly 900 yards on the ground and through the air, including five total touchdowns and two interceptions. Hardy, who is flanked by key secondary receivers Andrew Means (43.2) and Ray Fisher (42.0), ranked third in the Big Ten in receptions (6.17) and yards (89.6) per outing and had 16 touchdowns, five more than second-place Mario Manningham of Michigan. While IU does not boast a tailback among the Big Ten's top-10 rushers, Lewis (54.4 ypg) has been helped on the ground this year by Marcus Thigpen (46.5) and Bryan Payton (30.7). Demetrius McCray, who has played just three games due to injury, could be back in the lineup, which would give IU another 46.0 yards in run support. In the season finale against Purdue, Thigpen ran for a career-high 140 yards.

The Cowboy defense has been known to allow some points this season, as it has given up 29.2 points per game this season and at least 35 points in five of the six losses. Oklahoma State's Achilles heel is its pass defense, which ranked dead last in the Big 12 at 292.8 yards per game. The secondary gave up a Big 12-high 3,514 total yards in the air as well as 25 touchdowns, while also allowing a conference-high 8.0 yards per catch. That is good news for the Indiana spread attack that likes to put the ball in the air. OSU doesn't fare much against the run, ranking ninth in the Big 12 with 153.8 yards allowed per game. All totaled, the Cowboys are 10th in the conference with 446.7 yards allowed each game. Oklahoma State did rack up 21 sacks on the season, which tied for sixth in the conference. Sophomore linebacker Patrick Levine led the Cowboys with 6.4 tackles per game, 21st-best in the conference. Junior safety Ricky Price contributes 6.2 stops per outing, while senior linebacker Donovan Woods is good for 6.0 tackles a game. Senior defensive end Nathan Peterson is credited with 14.0 tackles for loss this season, all of which were solo, rating second-best in the conference.

OSU presents a balanced offense to a Hoosier defense that has seen its struggles this year. The Cowboys rank ninth in the nation with an average of 484.1 yards per game, while their rushing attack that musters 245.8 yards a contest rates seventh in the country. Sophomore quarterback Zac Robinson is expected to start in the bowl game after suffering a bruised shoulder against Oklahoma in the season finale. After being named the starter in the third game of the season, Robinson has put up numbers like a seasoned veteran, throwing for 2,522 yards, 20 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Only two of those picks have come in the last seven games, while he amassed 1,586 yards and 12 scores during that span. Wideout Adarius Bowman, who missed the final two games of the regular season but will play in the bowl, ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 93.2 receiving yards per game and his average of 6.1 catches per game is sixth. The real threat Indiana will need to worry about is senior tailback Dantrell Savage, who ranks second in the Big 12 and 18th in the nation with 117.2 yards on the ground per game. He has produced only eight touchdowns on the year, but recorded nine straight 100-yard games in the 10 games he has played.

While Oklahoma State ranks fifth in the country, having allowed just 11 sacks on the season, the Cowboy offensive line now faces a Hoosier defense that has amassed 42 sacks this season, which rank third nationally. Sophomore lineman Greg Middleton leads the country with 16 sacks, including 15 solos, and is also credited for 17.0 tackles for loss. Indiana must contain Robinson in the pocket and stop the Cowboy rushing attack as the 394.2 total yards IU allowed per game this season ranked ninth in the conference. The Hoosiers also ranked ninth in the Big Ten by giving up 155.4 yards on the ground. Despite allowing 238.8 yards through the air, which was eighth in the league, Indiana's pass defense performance can be considered a push as the 18 touchdowns it allowed in the air were negated by the 18 interceptions in the secondary. Senior cornerback Tracey Porter was second in the conference with six interceptions on the season, but returned those picks for a league-leading 137 yards. In addition, IU is led by two of the conference's top-10 tacklers in sophomores Austin Thomas (7th) and Will Patterson (10th) with 8.7 and 8.2 tackles per game, respectively.

Indiana must continue to pressure the quarterback, although they will be facing one of the nation's top pass rushing defenses. If the Hoosiers cannot stop the run, they must hold Savage under his average. Both teams will most likely put a big number on the scoreboard with their potent offenses and skeptical defenses, and the averages say the time of possession will be split. Should Indiana find the hole in OSU's secondary and exploit it all day, expect Lewis and Hardy to post big numbers. But then again, if the game is on the line and a field goal will win it, leave it to Starr to provide the fireworks for the second-straight game.