Indiana Hoosiers vs. Utah Utes, Wednesday Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. ET
This particular bowl game has been around since 2002, but it has had four different names before settling on what we know today as the Foster Farms Bowl. The inaugural contest was dubbed the San Francisco Bowl in 2002, before it was called the Emerald Bowl from 2004-2009, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl from 2010-2012, or just the Fight Hunger Bowl in 2013. Thankfully, despite all the name changing and the changing of venue from AT&T Park to Levi's Stadium in 2014, one thing has still remained the same. There are always plenty of points in this game as the winning team has scored more than 30 points in each of the last four years. This year should be no different because Indiana struggles to play defense, but has a solid offense, while the Utes averaged 30 points per game during the regular season.
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Indiana will be making their 11th bowl appearance in the program's 120-year history. Reaching a bowl game is the main goal of each season for the Hoosiers, but they have been to only four bowl games, including this one, since 1993. Their overall record is just 3-7, with their last bowl win coming all the way back in 1991.
For Utah, this is their 20thbowl appearance, and they have been money in bowl games. They own a 15-4 record, which is a .789-win percentage. They have won their last three bowl games while scoring more than 30 points in each game. Their last loss was in 2010, which snapped a nine-game bowl winning streak from 1999-2009.
Foster Farms Bowl Betting Storylines
Indiana comes into this game with a 6-6 record, which is good enough for fourth place in the Big Ten East. The Hoosiers needed to win their final regular-season game against Purdue to become bowl eligible, and in fine Hoosier form they rallied late and squeaked out a 26-24 win. The Hoosiers average 25.9 points per game but give up 27.3. They are led on offense by a quarterback-receiver duo that is a lot of fun to watch. Junior QB, Richard Lagow had a decent season, throwing for more than 3,100 yards and 18 touchdowns. The only downfall with Lagow is that he threw 16 interceptions. That is normally a recipe for disaster. His favorite receiver is Nick Westbrook. Westbrook led the receiving unit with 49 catches for 915 yards and five touchdowns. We all know Indiana to be a pass-first offense, but they do have a solid tailback that can get the tough yards between the tackles. Devine Redding rushed for 1,050 yards on 236 carries this season and found the end zone six times. He will need to have a productive game running the football to keep the defense honest and allow Lagow to make plays through the air. The downfall of this team lies on the defensive side of the ball. They have allowed more than 20 points in all but one of their games, and teams seem to have plenty of success throwing the football as Indiana is allowing 6.9 yards per attempt. They will be in tough to contain a Utah offense that will be hungry and eager to end the season on a winning note.
Utah comes into this game with an 8-4 record, which is disappointing for a team that started off the season with high expectations. The Utes have dropped three of their last four games, and all four losses were by a combined 19 total points. They are averaging just more than 30 points per game, while the once-vaunted and dominant defense has dropped down a notch and given up 24 points per game. On offense, they are led by senior running back Joe Williams. Williams registered 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns on just 184 carries. The quarterback play has been somewhat inconsistent with Troy Williams connecting on just 53 percent of his pass attempts and racking up 2,579 yards, 15 TDs and seven INTs. His favorite receiver is Tim Patrick, who hauled in 43 catches for five touchdowns and 684 yards. Defensively, the unit will miss the presence of linebacker Cody Barton, who is out with a broken collarbone. They allow 386 yards per game and nearly 7.2 yards per pass attempt. It could be a long night for this stop unit if they can't pressure Lagow into some mistakes.
Foster Farms Bowl Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Utah favored by 6.5 points at Mybookie.ag. It is currently sitting at -7 right now, and I expect it to continue climbing. The total sits at 54.5, which is half a point higher than opening.
Indiana is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games on a grass field and 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a straight up win. The "over" is 6-2-1 in the Hoosiers last nine nonconference games and 8-3-1 in the last 12 games following a straight up win.
Utah is 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl games and 6-0 ATS in their last six games versus the Big Ten. They are also heavily trending to the "over". The "over" is 5-1 in their last six games on grass and 5-2 in their last seven bowl games.
Indiana vs. Utah - Foster Farms Bowl Expert Picks & Predictions
For this game, I am going to offer up my first "totals" selection of the bowl season. I see absolutely no way this game stays under the number of 54.5.
As you know, I followed the Big Ten conference very close this year, writing reports on a weekly basis. I had to watch a lot of Big Ten football and saw plenty of Indiana games because of that. This team plays its best football when it is loose and has no care in the world about turning the ball over. Lagow is a gunslinger, and he is not afraid to take a shot or six down the field for a big play. The Hoosiers barely became bowl eligible, and I expect them to come out loose and make some big plays. After all, they are playing with house money and have nothing to lose by using the entire playbook and playing to win. Offensively they will be fine, and defensively they will continue to suck, which means Utah will have plenty of opportunity themselves to make big plays and put points on the board.
If Lagow has a solid game, he can throw for three touchdowns with his eyes closed. He is also good for an interception or two, which will allow the Utes to start their drives with great field position. I also don't see any possible way the defense can contain Williams, who I predict will rush for two scores on the day.
Get your popcorn ready and enjoy the points in this one.
Pick: "Over" 54.5, -110.
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