5 things to know about Ole Miss' Outback Bowl opponent: Indiana
Ole Miss is going to a bowl game for the first time in a half decade. The Rebels are set to play Indiana in the Outback Bowl at in Tampa on Jan. 2.
The selection is the program’s first bowl game since the January 2016 Sugar Bowl, overcoming a 2-year bowl ban in that span. Here are 5 things to know about Ole Miss’ opponent.
1. Head coach Tom Allen is no stranger to Rebels
Indiana head coach Tom Allen served as Ole Miss’ linebackers coach and special teams coordinator from 2012-2014. Allen was recently named Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Hoosiers to 6-1 record and a would-be berth in the Big Ten Championship game had the league not changed its rule (of teams having to play at least 6 games to be eligible) to allow Ohio State to play in the game instead. Allen served as the defensive coordinator for the Hoosiers in 2016 before taking over as interim head coach and ultimately retaining the full time position. Allen boasts a 24-21 record at Indiana and led the program to a Gator Bowl birth last season.
The Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator Kane Wommack — who recently accepted the head coaching gig at South Alabama — was a graduate assistant at Ole Miss in 2012 and 2013, working under his father, Dave Wommack, who served as defensive coordinator for Freeze’s entire tenure.
2. Indiana playmaker a Magnolia State native
Indiana’s leading receiver Ty Fryfogle is from Lucedale, Miss. Fryfogle boasted no SEC offers out of high school but has blossomed into an outstanding player in Bloomington. He’s totaled 34 catches for 687 yards and 7 touchdowns this season and had a pair of 200-yard games against Michigan State and Ohio State. Fryfogle earned All-Big Ten honors this season. His father, Trey, played receiver for Ole Miss during the Eli Manning era and caught 18 passes combined in the 2001 and 2002 seasons,
3. Hoosiers’ starting QB out for season
Indiana will face the Rebels without their starting quarterback Michale Penix Jr., who tore his ACL against Maryland on Nov. 28. Penix, who is from Tampa, threw for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns with 4 interceptions and also rushed for 2 touchdowns. His backup is Jack Tuttle, who went 18-for-27 for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 14-6 win over Wisconsin in the only game the tam has played since Penix’s injury.
Ole Miss is far from full strength in its own right. The Rebels lost the star wide receiver Elijah Moore and tight end Kenny Yeboah before the LSU game as both opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. The Rebels also lost running back Jerrion Ealy and receiver Braylon Sanders to leg injuries during the LSU game. A timetable for Ealy or Sanders’ return is not yet known.
4. IU consistently good on both sides
Indiana is good on both sides of the football. The Hoosiers rank 4th in the conference in total defense, allowing just over 19 points per game and 3rd in scoring offense at a mark of 30.1 points per contest. Indiana is allowing 226 yards per game through the air and 135 on the ground.
Offensively they average 258 yards passing per contest and rush for right at 100 yards per game. Of course, most of that was with Penix.
The Hoosiers are a fairly balanced offense that has not had much of a sample size production-wise since Penix’s injury. They’ve forced 20 turnovers in 7 games, though, which obviously is a concern for Ole Miss’ turnover-prone offense.
5. IU spent season making history
IU was ranked No. 11 in the final Playoff ranking, but the Hoosiers rose as high as No. 7 in the AP poll.
IU hadn’t been in the top 10 of the AP poll since 1969.
It also appeared in the AP poll 9 times. It hadn’t done that since 1945.
The Hoosiers are all but guaranteed of finishing in the Top 25 for the first time since 1988.