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Indiana at Missouri: Stats, matchups, and trench warfare

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

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Indiana at Missouri

Record AP
Rank
F/+ Rk S&P+ Rk
Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk
Indiana
1-1 NA 45 38 44 37
Missouri 3-0 18 12 18 25 22

Projected Score: Missouri 33, Indiana 20 (82% chance of winning)

The "+" rankings don't really know what to do with either of these teams just yet. Indiana ranks 38th in S&P+ and 52nd in FEI (with offensive and defensive ratings contradicting general perceptions pretty drastically), while Missouri ranks 18th in S&P+ and a rather incredible third in FEI. That makes Mizzou a solid favorite with my ratings and a significant favorite with Brian Fremeau's. Regardless, Indiana does indeed have some explosive options on offense, and it wouldn't take a multitude of mistakes to make this a ballgame.

F/+ Win Probability (remaining games)
Vanderbilt (94%)
Kentucky (89%)
Indiana (82%)
Arkansas (79%)
at Tennessee (76%)
Georgia (64%)
at Florida (64%)
at South Carolina (42%)
at Texas A&M (34%)

On average, Mizzou is projected to win 6.2 of its final nine games. That makes the Tigers' most likely record 9-3. I'm curious about how the ratings of teams like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida take shape moving forward -- in my head, both the UT and UF games have lower probabilities than what are listed above, but then again, I'm wrong a lot -- but that shows you the ways in which Mizzou has raised the bar so far this season. The Tigers' win expectancy has gone from 7.8 to 9.2 in just three weeks. That's a happy thing. Of course, it would fall back to the 8.0-8.2 range with a loss on Saturday.

When Indiana Has The Ball…

NOTE: The stats below are not the "+" stats that are adjusted for opponent because three weeks into the season (or, in Indiana's case, two games), opponent adjustments are pretty much worthless. But keep that in mind, especially as you look at the rankings below. They require quite a bit of context.

ACTUALLY, ONE MORE NOTE: Below, I'm also using IsoPPP instead of PPP, as I have used in the past. For more on IsoPPP, click here. The idea was to create an explosiveness measure that is separated from Success Rate, an efficiency measure. It basically asks, "When a team is successful, how successful are they?" It measures the magnitude of the big plays, and I love it ... but early in the season, a very small number of big plays can skew things pretty dramatically.

OKAY, FINE, ONE MORE: Keep in mind when you look at these numbers that Success Rate carries more weight than IsoPPP. Before the size of the successful play matters, you have to have successful plays. When I come up with an effective way to incorporate IsoPPP into my overall S&P+ formulas, Success Rate will likely carry 70-85% of the overall weight of the formula. If you can be good at either Success Rate or IsoPPP, you're going to choose Success Rate.

Standard Downs
IU Offense MU Defense Advantage
SD % Run 54.8% (80th)

Success Rate 54.5% (12th) 36.7% (44th) IU
IsoPPP 0.89 (62nd) 0.93 (94th) IU
Rushing Success Rate 52.3% (19th) 33.9% (41st) IU
Rushing IsoPPP 0.92 (33rd) 1.08 (117th) IU big
Passing Success Rate 59.5% (9th) 41.7% (55th) IU
Passing IsoPPP 0.81 (102nd) 0.73 (30th) MU big

Indiana more or less attempts 50-50 balance between run and pass on standard downs. The Hoosiers' big plays are bigger than most -- I've already mentioned quite a few times how much I like Tevin Coleman -- and thus far this season (yes, against Indiana State and Bowling Green), the run game has been pretty efficient, too.

Targets & Catches
Shane Wynn: 13 targets, 9 catches (69%), 126 yards (9.7 per target)
J-Shun Harris II: 10 targets, 9 catches (90%), 80 yards (8.0), 1 TD
Nick Stoner: 6 targets, 5 catches (83%), 46 yards (7.7)

Indiana basically attempts to put itself in position to take advantage of whatever you're giving it. If you're loading up to stop Coleman, the Hoosiers will pass both short (to freshman J-Shun Harris II and Nick Stoner) and long (to speedy Shane Wynn). But if you play it safe and try to limit big plays, then as Coleman suggested, Indiana will try to gash you with the run.

Last year, Missouri controlled Indiana by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

This was also a master class in how to dominate on the defensive line without sacks. Granted, I'm sure everyone involved would have preferred some sacks, but this was just fine.

Shane Ray: 4.0 tackles, 1 TFL
Michael Sam: 2.0 tackles (solo)
Harold Brantley: 2.0 tackles (solo), 2 TFL
Markus Golden: 1.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Matt Hoch: 1.5 tackles
Kony Ealy: 1.0 tackle (solo), 1 INT for TD, 2 PBU
Brayden Burnett: 1.0 tackle (solo)
Lucas Vincent: 1.0 tackle (solo)

That's 27 percent of your tackles coming from the line, with four tackles for loss, three passes defensed (one pick), and a forced fumble. And a formation change at halftime.

Missouri averaged 4.27 line yards per carry while Indiana averaged 2.22. The Tigers didn't give Coleman a chance to breathe. If Mizzou dominates up front again, it's going to be very hard for Indiana to get rolling, but the Hoosiers are pretty experienced in the trenches, and dominance isn't guaranteed no matter how much we want to assume it is.

Passing Downs
IU Offense MU Defense Advantage
PD % Run 25.7% (91st)

Success Rate 39.0% (19th) 20.6% (26th) push
IsoPPP 0.99 (106th) 1.06 (41st) MU big
Rushing Success Rate 47.1% (6th) 12.5% (22nd) push
Rushing IsoPPP 1.07 (66th) 0.97 (42nd) MU
Passing Success Rate 33.3% (52nd) 23.4% (38th) push
Passing IsoPPP 0.91 (107th) 1.08 (45th) MU big

Targets & Catches
Tevin Coleman (RB): 5 targets, 4 catches (80%), 38 yards (7.6 per target)
Nick Stoner: 4 targets, 2 catches (50%), 22 yards (5.5)
Shane Wynn: 4 targets, 3 catches (75%), 21 yards (5.3)
Simmie Cobbs, Jr.: 2 targets, 2 catches (100%), 23 yards (11.5)

Indiana passes three-quarters of the time when it falls behind schedule, but the Hoosiers still play it relatively safe. Stoner, Wynn, and Simmie Cobbs are averaging just 9.4 yards per catch on passing downs, and the most heavily targeted player is Coleman, the running back. Even on passing downs, the goal is to get the ball out of quarterback Nate Sudfeld's hands as quickly as possible. That negates the pass rush to an extent and forces Mizzou to tackle better than it did against Toledo (tackling like the Tigers did against UCF would be just fine), but Mizzou's efficiency numbers have been pretty solid so far, even with three long third-down conversions by UCF.

When Missouri Has The Ball…

Standard Downs
MU Offense IU Defense Advantage
SD % Run 64.8% (32nd)

Success Rate 51.6% (19th) 35.8% (36th) push
IsoPPP 0.90 (56th) 0.66 (21st) IU
Rushing Success Rate 50.6% (23rd) 38.8% (65th) MU
Rushing IsoPPP 0.56 (119th) 0.73 (64th) IU big
Passing Success Rate 53.5% (37th) 33.3% (17th) push
Passing IsoPPP 1.51 (12th) 0.60 (17th) push

Mizzou's horrific big-play rushing numbers are still confusing for me. Like I've said, we've seen both Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy break big gainers before, so we might be looking at a sample size issue above all else. Regardless, the efficiency is there on the ground; that's a good thing because there's no guarantee Mizzou will be efficient through the air.

If it's possible to allow 500+ yards and 45 points to Bowling Green and still acquit yourself reasonably well, Indiana did it on Saturday. The Hoosiers limited big plays -- something that would behoove them greatly tomorrow -- and forced BGSU to dink and dunk for four quarters. That's typically a winning strategy, but it didn't actually work: BGSU was actually able to dink and dunk for four quarters and rack up over 110 snaps.

Targets & Catches
Darius White: 11 targets, 7 catches (64%), 117 yards (10.6 per target), 2 TD
Bud Sasser: 9 targets, 9 catches (100%), 132 yards (14.7), 3 TD
Jimmie Hunt: 8 targets, 5 catches (63%), 43 yards (5.4), 3 TD
Marcus Murphy: 7 targets, 5 catches (70%), 48 yards (5.3)
Sean Culkin (TE): 5 targets, 2 catches (40%), 23 yards (4.6)
Russell Hansbrough (RB): 3 targets, 3 catches (100%), 21 yards (7.0)

Dinking isn't really Maty Mauk's thing. His two most frequent standard downs targets -- White and Sasser -- are averaging 15.6 yards per catch with five touchdowns in 16 catches above. UCF took advantage of Mizzou receivers' impatience for a little bit on Saturday before the Tigers settled in and began taking what they were given in the second half. We'll see how that experience impacts (or doesn't) Mizzou's passing game.

Passing Downs
MU Offense IU Defense Advantage
PD % Run 23.8% (96th)

Success Rate 33.3% (39th) 29.4% (81st) MU
IsoPPP 1.49 (31st) 1.26 (84th) MU big
Rushing Success Rate 30.0% (34th) 11.1% (18th) push
Rushing IsoPPP 0.79 (105th) 0.82 (25th) IU big
Passing Success Rate 34.4% (50th) 33.3% (89th) MU
Passing IsoPPP 1.69 (24th) 1.29 (84th) MU big

Targets & Catches
Jimmie Hunt: 10 targets, 6 catches (60%), 80 yards (8.0), 1 TD
Bud Sasser: 4 targets, 3 catches (75%), 83 yards (20.8), 1 TD
Darius White: 3 targets, 3 catches (100%), 62 yards (20.7), 1 TD
Sean Culkin (TE): 3 targets, 1 catch (33%), 18 yards (6.0)
Marcus Murphy: 3 targets, 1 catch (33%), 13 yards (4.3), 1 TD
Wesley Leftwich: 2 targets, 1 catch (50%), 5 yards (2.5)

It's strange to think that Mizzou has an "advantage" on passing downs -- even a good success rate on passing downs rarely approaches 50 percent -- but there does appear to be an opportunity for Mizzou to make up ground at times. The Tigers are certainly pretty good at pulling off some big plays on second- or third-and-long, and Indiana appears susceptible to allowing them. Mizzou ran rather frequently on such downs last year when James Franklin was taking snaps; with Mauk, Josh Henson simply asks him to go make something happened. It really hasn't backfired yet, though Mizzou has certainly fallen into some droughts here and there.

Summary

So here are the key factors:

1. Line play, part 1

If Missouri is able to establish a steady run game, as it was able to do last year -- Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy, and Henry Josey: 35 carries, 218 yards (6.2 per carry), 2 TD -- the Tigers will be able to eventually poke holes in a secondary dead set against giving up big plays. Even if the big plays haven't yet come for Hansbrough and Murphy, the steady five- and six-yard gains have. If Indiana can inhibit Missouri's run game, the Hoosiers might be able to bait Maty Mauk into some risky throws. (Those throws might actually work, mind you, but they're not guaranteed.)

2. Line play, part 2

Missouri's defensive line had its coming-out party, so to speak, in Bloomington last year. Shane Ray and Markus Golden combined for a couple of TFLs and a forced fumble, and of course Kony Ealy had his leaping pick six. Meanwhile, Harold Brantley was dominant as well. Mizzou completely prevented Tevin Coleman from getting rolling, hurried Nate Sudfeld, and forced iffy throws. The stats above tell us that Indiana doesn't exactly go guns-blazing in the passing game -- even on passing downs, Sudfeld is throwing mostly safe throws -- and if Missouri is able to cave in the Indiana line again, minimize the rushing damage, and force Sudfeld to win the game with his arm, the Tigers are probably in good shape.

3. Shane Wynn vs. Aarion Penton (or whoever)

Tevin Coleman is far and away Indiana's main big-play guy, but as Missouri experienced last year, Wynn can have his moments. He caught five passes for 90 yards last year, including a 68-yard, fourth-quarter score. He is a jitterbug type who catches a lot of his passes near the line of scrimmage, then starts dancing. He turned a little dance into a long score against Missouri, and he could do it again. If Missouri tackles well, and short passes remain short, the Tigers are in good shape. But if Wynn or somebody else turns short into long, Indiana has bought itself some time.

4. Field position

Field position was a silent killer for Mizzou against UCF last week; even while they were struggling, the Tigers consistently gave the Knights the ball deep in UCF territory and forced UCF to move the chains repeatedly (usually without big plays) to score points. UCF couldn't do it. Indiana's offense is better than UCF's, but driving 80 yards for a score is really hard, even for good offenses. Christian Brinser's punts have basically been return-proof so far, and Andrew Baggett still has one of the nation's stronger kickoff legs. If they do their job and Marcus Murphy rips off a decent return or two, the field is tilted dramatically in Missuori's favor. Indiana hasn't been very good on special teams this year; let's keep it that way.

*****

Because the numbers don't really know what to do with either Missouri's or Indiana's defense yet, the projected score of 33-20 Mizzou seems a bit lower than expected. I figure there are more points than that, but not dramatically more. Something in the neighborhood of 41-21 Mizzou sounds about right, though with big-play weapons like Coleman, Sasser, and White, the possibility for a shootout is decent. Expect fans around you to be calling Dave Steckel a bum for three quarters, and expect an eventually comfortable Mizzou win.

Here's to being 4-0 on Saturday evening...