2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl Betting Preview: Utah vs. West Virginia

Indiana vs Utah Foster Farms Bowl Lines, Expert Pick & TV Info

Written by on December 27, 2016

Indiana has not won a bowl game since 1991, so the Hoosiers are no doubt duly motivated for Wednesday’s Foster Farms Bowl matchup with No. 19 Utah. The Utes were in serious Pac-12 title contention until the tail end of the year as they suffered deflating season-ending losses to Oregon and Colorado. That made the 8-4 finish to the regular season disappointing.

Indiana vs Utah Foster Farms Bowl Lines, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
TV: Fox
Opening NCAA Football Lines: Utah -6 (54.5)

Why Bet on Indiana?

The Hoosiers are in the midst of an unexpected coaching change after Kevin Wilson’s sudden dismissal and hoping for a better end than last year’s 44-41 overtime loss to Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl. Tom Allen is making his debut as head coach. A Broyles Award nominee, Allen engineered one of the top defensive turnarounds in the country, as the Hoosiers improved in every major statistical category. Indiana held its opponents to 136.9 fewer total yards and 93.6 fewer passing yards vs. 2015, the largest improvement in the country in both categories. IU limited its foes to 10.3 fewer points, which ranks sixth nationally. Allen led a program record six defensive players to All-Big Ten honors.

Linebacker Tegray Scales is 1st in the Big Ten in tackles (116; T-17th nationally), solo stops (87; 1st), and tackles for loss (20.5; T-4th). The junior’s eight double-figure tackle games put him 1st in the league (T-3rd nationally). LB Marcus Oliver holds the program record and is the NCAA active leader with 12 career forced fumbles. The redshirt junior (112 in 2015) and Scales are the first Hoosiers to record back-to- back 100-tackle seasons since 1996-98.

The Hoosiers didn’t beat a team with a winning record this year, and their top win is probably against middling Maryland (6-6). They had a five-point squeaker against Nebraska, during which the Cornhuskers scored a 72-yard touchdown when IU safeties collided into one another. They led Michigan at the Big House briefly, but the Wolverines scored 17 second-half points to pull ahead. Games against Ohio State and Penn State were respectable.

Running back Devine Redding powered Indiana into the end zone and into its second consecutive bowl game with a fourth-quarter score against rival Purdue. Beating the Boilermakers for the fourth straight year capped a six-win season and also marked only the fifth time in program history that the team won both its Big Ten rivalry games against Purdue and Michigan State.

The Hoosiers last squared off against a Pac-12 foe in 2004, a 30-24 win at No. 24 Oregon. IU has met one Pac-12 opponent in a bowl game — Southern California in the 1968 Rose Bowl. This marks Indiana’s third bowl game in California — the 1968 Rose Bowl and the 1979 Holiday Bowl vs. BYU

Why Bet on Utah?

Utah returns to the Bay Area game for the first time since the 2005 Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Utes finished the season ranked 19th in the College Football Playoff Rankings and 23rd in the Coaches Poll. Utah is in search of their third consecutive bowl victory after defeating BYU, 35-28, in last year’s Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

It’s not wise to pick against Kyle Whittingham in a bowl game. Whittingham’s 90 percent bowl winning percentage (9-1) ranks first all-time in NCAA history, and recent wins include BYU, Georgia Tech, Cal and a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team (2009 Sugar Bowl).

Utah’s four losses were by a combined 19 points — an average of 4.75 points per game. Two of Utah’s four losses were to top-10 teams (No. 4 Washington and No. 9 Colorado). Mitch Wishnowsky won the 2016 Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter — Utah’s third Ray Guy winner in a row. Whittingham coaches the punters and kickers.

Utah ranks No. 3 (tied) in the nation and No. 2 in the Pac-12 in takeaways with 28 (17 INT, 11 FR). It ranks No. 6 (tied) in the nation and leads the Pac-12 in sacks (40). The Utes rank No. 10 (tied) in the nation and No. 2 the Pac-12 in interceptions (17).

Running back Joe Williams returned from a four-game in-season retirement to scorch box scores from mid-October until the end of the season. He racked up 1,110 yards over five games — 222 yards per game — in a tear that shocked many and included a 332-yard effort at UCLA.

Indiana vs Utah Foster Farms Bowl Expert Pick: Utah Utes

Utes are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 bowl games.
Over is 6-2- 1 in Hoosiers last 9 non-conference games.

Go Utah and over in NCAA Football betting.