- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Most people point to the running of Jordan Howard and the passing of Nate Sudfeld as the reason Indiana is off to its first 3-0 start since 2010.

Howard leads the nation with 507 rushing yards and Sudfeld leads the Big Ten with 312.7 passing yards per game and 938 in all.

An equally big factor, however, is that the Indiana defense is tied for first in the Big Ten and eighth nationally in turnover margin with a plus-5. The Hoosiers’ defense has come up with seven turnovers: three interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

Its offense has only turned it over twice.

“We wouldn’t be 3-0 if we didn’t have those (turnovers),” said coach Kevin Wilson, off to his best start in five seasons in Bloomington. “There are several factors in games but turnover ratio is a good part of it. I think we’re recruiting better athletes that are longer. It’s good to see but we’ve got a lot to tighten up, too.”

Indiana hasn’t been on the plus side of the turnover battle for a season since 2009.

A big reason for that has been IU’s inability to create turnovers on defense. The high in turnovers created in the past five seasons coming into 2015 was 17 in both 2013 and 2014. Indiana is almost halfway there after three games.

The Hoosiers have already recovered four fumbles; last year, they recovered four in 12 games.

Defensive coordinator Brian Knorr said he believes improved athleticism, particularly in the secondary, is a big reason for the fast start. Indiana’s three interceptions have all come from true freshmen: Jameel Cook Jr. against Florida International, and two by Jonathan Crawford last week against Western Kentucky.

“I think we’ve been able to get some pressure that created some quick throws,” Knorr said. “I think for instance that corner route that Jonathan Crawford was able to get the interception on Saturday, Ralph Green was right there in the throwing lane and was able to get his big paw up there and I think that impacted the throw of the quarterback.”

Sudfeld has enjoyed being the benefactor of the defense making plays. IU’s seven turnovers created by the defense this season has led to 41 points scored.

“It gives us a huge boost of momentum and confidence,” Sudfeld said. “We feel like when we get a turnover and all of the momentum is on our side, we just feel like we can’t not score. It just gives us the ball a little bit more and lets me put it in the hands of our running backs and receivers behind the O-line we have, we just feel really about it.”

Indiana will be looking for its first 4-0 start since the 1990 season this Saturday when it travels to face Wake Forest (2-1).

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