The IU football program is no different.
Following one of the worst seasons in program history last year, the Hoosiers have new hope entering the 2012 season.
The team took steps to eradicate memories of last season’s 1-11 mark Sept. 1 after defeating the Indiana State Sycamores 24-17. On Sept. 8., the team beat Massachusetts 45-6 to double their win total from last season. The Hoosiers will face Ball State before entering the inevitable grind of Big Ten Conference action.
As of press time, two of Indiana’s Big Ten foes were ranked in the top 25, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 12 Ohio State. Both will make the trek to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers.
The Buckeyes, Badgers and Hoosiers are in the Big Ten Leaders Division, which will send one of the schools to Lucas Oil Stadium in December. Ohio State and Penn State are each ineligible for the conference championship game.
The circumstances pit Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana in a four-team race to qualify for a spot in the second annual title game.
Because the Hoosiers have found themselves in this unique position, it may be enough motivation for the team to make a run at winning six games and qualifying for a postseason bowl game.
The Hoosiers have a few opportunities to make their case for a bowl game. Three of the team’s 12 regular season games are at primetime.The Hoosiers’ week one victory against Indiana State began at 8 p.m., as will home games against Ball State and Ohio State.
There’s reason to believe the Hoosiers could enter their first conference test at Northwestern with a 3-0 record. Following victories against Indiana State and UMass, the Hoosiers return to Bloomington to meet in-state nemesis Ball State on Sept. 15.
Should Indiana steal a victory at Navy on Oct. 20, the team would need to win only two conference games to reach the required six-win minimum and earn an invitation to a bowl game.
Therein lies the true challenge for IU Coach Kevin Wilson’s squad.
During conference play, Indiana will battle Northwestern, Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue.
Among those eight conference contests, it appears IU could beat both Penn State and Purdue. Penn State began the post-Joe Paterno era in a disappointing fashion, losing in Beaver Stadium to Mid-American Conference challenger Ohio University 24-14. They now sit at 0-2.
It won’t be surprising to see Indiana achieve a rare victory in Happy Valley, bringing the Hoosiers to a 5-6 record with a season finale matchup against Purdue. That game will have postseason implications on the line.
Should the Hoosiers reach a rare six victories, IU Coach Kevin Wilson will no longer be on the proverbial hot seat. He might become a hero to the students of this campus.
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