Foster Farms Bowl Pick

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Foster Farms Bowl Pick

Indiana

vs.

Utah

12/28/16

This isn’t a big-name bowl by any means with Indiana and Utah competing in the Foster Farms Bowl, but it should at least be interesting. That’s mainly because Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson resigned in December due to certain allegations so the defensive coordinator will lead the charge. The Utes don’t need any help, but were pushed to -7.5 point favorites about 10 days before the Game at 5 Dimes Sportsbook. The Game is at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, giving Utah another edge, at least proximity wise.

To go with that, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is 9-1 in bowl Games and that will make things even tougher for Indiana. However, Utah’s late-season struggles can’t be ignored, losing three of their final Four Games. A couple of those were tough matchups, but losing to Oregon at home wasn’t acceptable. They also beat USC earlier in the season, but lost to Cal the next week. Close wins against BYU, Oregon State and UCLA are a couple reasons to take Indiana.

But the Hoosiers finished with two less wins and didn’t beat anyone good all season. In fact, their best win was probably against Maryland and even though the Terps finished 6-6, no one is calling them good. The notable thing for Indiana is that they kept Games relatively close. They lost to Nebraska by five, Northwestern by 10 and Michigan by 10, the last two being on the road. But does that mean anything? On paper, Indiana didn’t get a great matchup in this bowl.

Surprisingly, the problem Indiana will have in this Game is scoring. The Hoosiers had no problems against bad defenses, but against some of the Big Ten’s best, they couldn’t do much and Utah has one of the better groups in the Pac-12. Indiana’s strong suit is running the ball, but that could be problematic against of a team known for its front seven. That means quarterback Richard LAgow will be asked to do too much. While he hasn’t been completely terrible, against two of the worst defenses in the Big Ten (Rutgers, Purdue), LAgow managed to throw five interceptions and keep each opponent around. For anyone backing Utah, beating those two teams by a combined eight points may be reason enough.

Covering this Game depends on Devine Redding (1,050 yards, 6 TDs) and the running Game. Redding is good, but when the other team isn’t worry about the passing Game, they can focus on the ground. When Redding struggles, this offense does and reaching 20 points could be tough.

The other side is similarly iffy, although Indiana promoted its defensive coordinator for a reason. The Hoosiers made a huge jump on this side of the ball and that will be their way to cover.

Stopping this offense is possible, but probably not likely. Running back Joe Williams came out of retirement and hasn’t been stopped, running for 180 yards on average in the last six Games. While Indiana has stopped some teams this year, Williams will be hard to contain. Quarterback Troy Williams was unleashed the last few Games because the Utes were losing and that hasn’t been a good thing. He went just 13-of-40 with two picks at Colorado. Of course, Indiana is a much different matchup than the Buffs. Troy Williams’s main goal will be to not turn it over and let Joe Williams do most of the work.

Utah doesn’t come into this Game on a good note, but Indiana appears outmatched at all levels and it’s going to be a tough test for them out west.

The Hoosiers haven’t covered in their last Four neutral-site Games and are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 Games on grass. The Utes have covered in six straight vs. the Big Ten and are 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl Games.

Our Pick – Underdogs like Indiana are very dangerous in Bowl Games. They simply have nothig to lose. They can alter Game plans and take chances they would never take in Conference play. Sometimes those chances pay dividends, sometimes they don’t. When they do, we see underdogs like the Hoosiers cover or even win straight up.

That being said, Utah is the better team here. Sure, the Utes are disappointed, having dropped 3 of their last 4. A different outcome would have propelled them into a higher profile Bowl Game. But 2 of those 3 losses came to Washington and Colorado. No shame there.

Still, we need to be a little concerned about the motivation, or lack of it, for the Utes. That aside, Utah should win this Game and with the win should come the cover. Utah -5.5

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