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New Era Pinstripe Bowl early look: Indiana vs. Duke

For Indiana's first trip to a bowl game since 2007 it will play ... another basketball school ... in a baseball stadium.

You won't hear the Hoosiers complaining any, however. This is a school that has been to the postseason only once since 1993, so any bowl is a welcome sight. After opening this season 4-0 -- the program's best start in 25 years -- Indiana had to win its final two games in order to qualify for this matchup against Duke in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Though Kevin Wilson's team won only two Big Ten games, and against league bottom-feeders Purdue and Maryland at that, it showed how dangerous it could be throughout the year. The Hoosiers took Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa to the wire at home and were competitive against Michigan State until the fourth quarter.

Now, Indiana will be gunning for its first bowl win since 1991 against a Duke team that lost four of its final five games.

Most intriguing matchup: Duke's secondary vs. Indiana's passing game. The Blue Devils rank just 72nd nationally in pass defense and have only nine interceptions on the season. They have given up some big plays in the passing game this year, notably against North Carolina and Virginia, though safety Jeremy Cash is one of the top defensive players in the country. Indiana led the Big Ten in passing yards thanks to a strong senior year from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who threw for 3,184 yards and 24 touchdowns, and an outstanding offensive line that keeps him clean. If the weather conditions on Dec. 26 in the Bronx allow it, the Hoosiers could enjoy some success through the air.

Player on Indiana who could have a big game: Hoosiers running back Jordan Howard missed three full games with ankle and knee injuries and was hampered at other times. But when healthy, he was one of the best in the country, rushing for 1,213 yards despite the health problems. If the month off gets him close to 100 percent, he could have a major impact. If not, backup Devine Redding could do damage behind Indiana's underrated O-line.

Key to victory: As always for Indiana, it either has to get some key stops or try to win in a shootout. Duke has a balanced attack and a dual-threat quarterback in Thomas Sirk, who could give the Big Ten's least-resistance defense (IU allowed more than 500 yards per game this season) all kinds of fits. The Hoosiers almost always find ways to score, and they often find themselves in close games in the fourth quarter because of their defense. Can some Indiana defenders rise to the occasion and find a way to finish out this rare postseason opportunity?