It is a big week for Indiana’s Big Ten schools — the Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers — to give their conference some national respect as both of them face ranked opponents Saturday.
The Hoosiers (1-1), who fell out of the polls after opening the season with a 34-6 loss at then-No. 18 Iowa, host 8th-ranked Cincinnati (2-0) in a noon-time Eastern start on ESPN. This is the first of two marquee road games for the Bearcats, who are considered the best “Group of 5” team in the country and will face former coach Brian Kelly and No. 12 AP/No. 10 USA TODAY Notre Dame in South Bend on Oct. 2.
Speaking of the Fighting Irish (2-0), they are at home looking to keep the Boilermakers from their first 3-0 start since opening the 2007 season with five wins. The last victory of that bunch was 33-19 over Notre Dame, which is also the last time Purdue beat its in-state rival to claim the Shillelagh Trophy. The Irish have won the last six matchups between the schools, including a 30-14 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium in the most recent meeting in 2014.
Penix tries to help Hoosiers get back on track
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) September 17, 2021
Indiana righted itself last weekend by pummeling FCS foe Idaho, 56-14. Michael Penix threw two first-half touchdown passes and the special teams contributed two touchdowns — including an electrifying 81-yard punt return by D.J. Mathews Jr. — as the Hoosiers raced to a 35-0 lead. Penix added a third score on the ground, and Stephen Carr rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Cincinnati will represent a much sterner test, however, as the Hoosiers try to defeat an AP Top 10 opponent for just the second time in their last 42 such matchups. The Bearcats also toyed with an FCS team last week, waxing Murray State 42-7 as Jerome Ford ran for 113 yards and three TDs while Desmond Ridder completed 14 of 22 passes for 243 yards and two scores.
Oddsmakers have been impressed with Cincinnati, which has run up 91 points in its two wins. As of Friday morning, the Hoosiers have been installed as 3.5- or 4-point underdogs across sportsbooks in Indiana. DraftKings is offering -105 for those taking Indiana and the points, while FanDuel, PointsBet, Caesars, theScore, and WynnBET all have the standard -110.
The over/under has a range between 49 and 50 points, with more than a few books — FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM, Caesars, theScore, and WynnBET — splitting the difference with the hook at 49.5 points with -110 on both sides. DraftKings is the lone book on 49 at -110, while BetRivers and Unibet counter with a -109/-112 split at 50.
For Indiana team totals, the number ranges from 21.5 at theScore (-120/-110) to 23.5 at DraftKings (+100/-130) and BetMGM (-105/-120). FanDuel (-110) and the Kambi platform (-122/-107) are offering 22.5 points, while WynnBET (-110) and PointsBet tick higher to 23 (-115).
Moneyline shopping shows FanDuel to be the best play for a Hoosiers upset at +152, followed by theScore (+150). WynnBET, PointsBet, DaftKings, BetMGM and Caesars, all checking in at +145, and BetRivers and Unibet at +140.
Irish look to put complete game together
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 15, 2021
Despite its 2-0 start, Notre Dame has been shaky at times. After a double-overtime victory at rebuilding Florida State to open the season, the Irish needed to rally past stubborn Toledo at home last weekend, with Jack Coan shaking off a dislocated finger to throw the go-ahead touchdown pass to tight end Michael Mayer with 1:09 to play for a 32-29 victory.
Despite the win, voters in both polls dropped the Irish in their rankings. Notre Dame slipped four spots in the AP poll and three in the coaches’ poll. Coan, though, has been better than advertised since arriving as a graduate transfer from Wisconsin. He has thrown for 605 yards and six touchdowns, and Mayer has quickly become his favorite target with 16 receptions for 201 yards and three scores.
Purdue followed up its season-opening victory over Oregon State with a 49-0 road drubbing of Connecticut last weekend. Jack Plummer had three first-half touchdown passes to David Bell and four overall as the Boilermakers scored touchdowns on seven consecutive possessions after punting on the first one.
Plummer finished with 245 yards and the four TDs in his one half of work, while Bell totaled six catches for 121 yards in his two quarters of action. The Boilermakers lost running back Zander Horvath to an ankle injury though, which leaves the running game to the tandem of King Doerue and Dylan Downing.
Indiana sportsbooks are challenging bettors with lines for this game, offering Notre Dame at either -7 or -7.5. BetMGM is the only book offering -110 on both sides at -7, with DraftKings (-115/-105), PointsBet (-121/+100), Caesars (-115/-105), and WynnBET (-120/+100) also on the flat number.
BetRivers and Unibet (-105/-117) and theScore (-110) are riding the high-side hook.
DraftKings has the best moneyline offering on the Notre Dame side at -280, while those backing a Boilermakers upset can get +250 at theScore. The over/under has two books — BetMGM and theScore — offering 56.5 points at -110, while everyone else has opted for 58 at the standard -110.
Notre Dame’s over/under team total has a decent range from 32.5 points at WynnBET (-110) and PointsBet (-115) to 34.5 points at theScore (-120/-110). For those seeking the middle ground at 33.5 points, BetMGM has the best value for the over (+100) while Unibet and BetRivers have -118 for the under.