Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

2012 IU Football preview: opponents

SEPT. 1 VS. INDIANA STATE
Last meeting
Sept. 1, 2007 (Hoosiers won 55-7)
Last year’s record
6-5 (4-4 Missouri Valley Conference)
Biggest strength
The Sycamores have decent size on their defensive line and are anchored by lineman Ben Obaseki. The Associated Press named him a First Team All-American, and Obaseki finished third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year after he led the team with 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2011.
Biggest weakness
They’re an FCS team that hasn’t been able to keep up with big-time opponents. They played one Big Ten opponent last season — offensively-challenged Penn State — and allowed 41 points in a blowout loss.
Prediction
Playing their opening game at home this season instead of at Lucas Oil Stadium helps the Hoosiers, as does the fact that the new coaching staff has had a complete offseason to prepare the team. They’ll beat up on the Sycamores and start the season 1-0.

SEPT. 8 AT MASSACHUSETTS
Last meeting
First meeting.
2011 record
5-6 (3-5 Colonial Athletic Association)
Biggest strength
This is the minutemen’s first season as an FBS program after leaving the CAA to join the Mid-American Conference. They scored more than 25 points per game last season and return many starters on offense.
Biggest weakness
The Minutemen didn’t exactly light up FCS competition last season and will get an early FBS test against an IU team that is 35-6-1 all time against MAC teams.  
Prediction
Indiana will have their hands full playing far from home in Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Nonetheless, Kevin Wilson will have his team ready for a potent Minutemen offense and win a tight contest.

SEPT. 15 VS. BALL STATE

Last meeting
Sept. 3, 2011 (Cardinals won 27-20)
2011 record
6-6 (4-4 Mid-American Conference)
Biggest strength
Ball State’s efficient offense doomed the Hoosiers in their meeting last season, and quarterback Keith Wenning continued to play well as the season progressed. He threw for 2,786 yards while completing almost 64 percent of his passes and was only a sophomore.
Biggest weakness
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals struggled to stop anyone. They allowed 34.7 points per game (103rd in the nation).
Prediction
Once again, the Hoosiers will benefit from playing Ball State at home instead of a neutral site. Now that the offense is more developed, the Hoosiers should win.

SEPT. 29 AT NORTHWESTERN
Last meeting
Oct. 29 (Wildcats won 59-38)
2011 record
6-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
Biggest strength
Northwestern’s no-huddle spread offense will create problems for an IU secondary that ranked near the bottom of the conference in pass defense. Compounding matters, the Hoosiers had the conference’s worst rush defense in 2011 and will have to contain do-it-all quarterback Kain Colter, who led the Wildcats in rushing last year.
Biggest weakness
Though Colter has tremendous upside, the Wildcats will have to live without former quarterback Dan Persa, who became the NCAA’s career leader in completion percentage (.727, 460-for-633) last season. NU’s high-powered passing attack is offset by a woeful secondary that gave up the most passing yards in the Big Ten last season, and IU is installing a more pass-oriented offense this season.
Prediction
The Hoosiers improved defense will make it a game, but ultimately won’t be able to contain the big-play ability of Colter and the spread offense. Expect a high-scoring affair that sees the Wildcats to win by one or two touchdowns.

OCT. 6 VS. MICHIGAN STATE  (HOMECOMING)
Last meeting
Nov. 19, 2011 (Spartans won 55-3)
2011 record
11-3 (7-1 in the Big Ten)
Biggest strength
The Spartans put on an offensive show against the Hoosiers last season, but it was their stifling defense that carried them to the Outback Bowl. Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy has gone on to the NFL, but the defense that allowed the 10th-fewest points in the country should continue to dominate.
Biggest weakness
The Spartans performed well in almost every aspect of the game last season, but their running game ranked 11th in the Big Ten. Their inability to effectively run the ball hurt them in road games and close games.
Prediction
The Spartans lost key performers on both sides of the ball (Worthy and quarterback Kirk Cousins, for example), but they should still be able to handle the Hoosiers during IU’s homecoming.

OCT. 13 VS. OHIO STATE
Last meeting
Nov. 5, 2011 (Buckeyes won 34-20)
2011 record
6-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
Biggest strength
Ohio State regularly boasts one of the nation’s top defenses and this year should be no different. Though they struggled at times in 2011, expect improvement now that 2011 interim head coach Luke Fickell will call defensive plays under new head coach Urban Meyer. Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who lead the team in rushing a year ago but was an inconsistent passer, should fit well in Meyer’s spread offense.
Biggest weakness
Installing a new offense always comes with growing pains, and the Buckeyes must get better play out of Miller if they want the spread system to succeed. Toward that end, a rebuilding defense may find themselves on the field more in 2012 while the offense departs from its run first, clock control roots.
Prediction
IU played the Buckeyes tough in Columbus last year, taking a 13-13 tie heading into halftime. IU will keep it close during the first half again, but like Northwestern’s Cain Kolter, the athletic Miller will give the IU defense fits and lead Ohio State to a comfortable victory.
 
OCT. 20 AT NAVY
Last meeting
Sept. 20, 1986 (Hoosiers won 52-29)
2011 record
5-7
Biggest strength
Navy famously runs the triple-option offense, which is such a daunting task to defend that the IU defense began preparing for it during spring practice. Even though everybody knows about the offense, the Midshipmen were still able to run for more than 300 yards per game in 2011.
Biggest weakness
The distinctive offense turns heads, but the Navy defense wasn’t as successful last season. They allowed nearly 30 points per game, including 63 points at home to Southern Miss.
Prediction
IU will have to travel to Annapolis to face the Midshipmen, and if IU falls behind, Navy will be able to control the pace of the game with its rushing attack. The IU offense is still young, and the confusing Navy offense should be enough scratch out a close victory against the Hoosiers.

OCT. 27 AT ILLINOIS
Last meeting
Oct. 8, 2011 (Illini won 41-20)
2011 record
7-6 (2-6 Big Ten)
Biggest strength
The Illini defense was stout in 2011, finishing seventh in the nation in yards allowed under since-departed defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. They return most of their starters on that side of the ball and have options at quarterback between dual-threat junior Nathan Scheelhaase and pocket-passer Reilly O’Toole, a sophomore.
Biggest weakness
The Illini started the season 2011 season 6-0, only to end the regular season on a six-game losing streak before beating UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The offense must put up more points in 2012 for the Illini to contend for a Leaders division title and shot at a Big Ten Championship.
Prediction
The Hoosiers have not played well in Champaign as of late: they were drubbed 43-13 in their last trip there in 2010, and lost 55-13 in 2008. Under new head coach Tim Beckman, the Illini defense will prove to be too much for the Hoosiers, whose woes at the other Memorial Stadium will continue.

NOV. 3 VS. IOWA
Last meeting
Oct. 22, 2011 (Hawkeyes won 45-24)
2011 record
7-6 (4-4 in the Big Ten)
Biggest strength
Iowa was pretty average across the board last season, but the defense stood up strong in the red zone: The Hawkeyes had the second-best red zone defense in the Big Ten last season.
Biggest weakness
Running back Marcus Coker was a scoring machine last season, scoring 11 touchdowns in eight Big Ten contests, but he departed for Stony Brook this offseason. Without Coker, the Hawkeye running game should be very stoppable.
Prediction
The Hoosiers outplayed the Hawkeyes in a number of categories on the road last season, but were unable to stop wide receiver Marvin McNutt. With McNutt gone and the Iowa offense a bit less dangerous, the Hoosiers should grab an upset win against the Hawkeyes, exorcising demons of close losses in recent years.

NOV. 10 VS. WISCONSIN
Last meeting
Oct. 15, 2011 (Badgers won 59-7)
2011 record
11-3 (6-2 in Big Ten)
2011 Big Ten Champions
Biggest strength
Simply put, running the ball. Wisconsin’s two-headed backfield monster of senior Montee Ball, a 2012 Heisman Trophy candidate, and junior James White would keep any defensive coordinator up at night. The Badgers will replace Russell Wilson with another graduate school transfer, former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien.
Biggest weakness
O’Brien had a rough 2011, throwing seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He is not nearly the threat Wilson was, but does bring experience to the position. Still, it may be hard to replace other departures, including three All-Big Ten lineman and six coaches, most notably offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.
Prediction
Indiana hasn’t played Wisconsin close since 2009, when the Hoosiers lost 31-28 at home. Since then, it’s been ugly, particularly IU’s 83-20 loss in Madison in 2010. The Badgers may have lost some firepower but have superior talent on both sides of the ball, and should win big.

NOV. 17 AT PENN STATE
Last meeting
Oct. 1, 2011 (Nittany Lions won 16-10)
2011 record
9-4 (6-2 in the Big Ten)
Biggest strength
The Penn State defense, led by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Devon Still (who is now in the NFL), was dominant. They allowed a stingy average of 16.8 points per game, which was the fifth-best in the country.
Biggest weakness
For how dominant the defense was, Penn State played a number of close games because the offense was so ineffective (only 19.3 points per game). They spent much of the year with a two-quarterback system, and neither Matt McGloin nor Rob Bolden performed well enough to seize the starting job.
Prediction
The Hoosiers had their chances against Penn State last year, and the game should once again come down to the final minutes. IU will be much improved offensively, but the Nittany Lion defense should still be able to stop them in Happy Valley and get away with a win.

NOV. 24 AT PURDUE
Last meeting
Nov. 26, 2011 (Boilermakers won 33-25)
2011 record
6-6 (4-4 Big Ten)
Biggest strength
The Boilers have tremendous depth and experience at quarterback, and might finally have all of their signal-callers healthy. Senior Caleb TerBush remains the starter. In 2011, he completed nearly 62 percent of his passes and tossed 13 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Senior Robert Marve was granted a sixth year of eligibility after a knee injury sidelined him for the majority of 2010, while junior Rob Henry, the 2010 starter, returns after missing time in 2011 with a torn ACL.
Biggest weakness
Purdue ranked near the bottom of the conference in total defense and allowed an average of 26.8 points per game last season. The health of the aforementioned skill players is also a concern.
Prediction
Indiana will try take back the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2010 against a Purdue team that many are picking as a dark horse to win the Leaders division. Purdue’s big play ability on offense will be the difference in this one. Expect the boilers to hang on to the Bucket with a narrow win.


Final Prediction: Put together, our analysis says IU will go 4-8 and win one Big Ten game, removing that monkey from Kevin Wilson's back. Though we don't expect that to happen until early November against Iowa, we also believe IU has a good shot at beating Northwestern, Purdue and Penn State. The Nittany Lions were added to that list in wake of the NCAA punishing the program -- Penn State's  on-field performance and talent level figures to dip as players transfer from the school without penalty. 

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe