With the IU football season less than two weeks away, question marks still remain.
Who will be the starting quarterback? How will IU get over the loss of many key players to the NFL draft?
And most importantly, how many games will IU win?
Five members of the IDS sports staff give their predictions on what to expect from the Hoosiers this season.
Cameron Drummond, IU football columnist, projected record: 8-4
There is no rational reason for why I think IU football will reach eight regular-season wins this season. It hasn't happened since 1993 and nothing in recent IU history would suggest it is likely to occur in 2018, which is why it may just happen.
There is less expectation for Tom Allen and company this season. The Hoosiers won't have to try and continue a multiple-year streak of reaching a bowl game and Allen having a full regular season of coaching experience will help them in the long run.
The ingredients for IU to have a successful, perhaps even a wildly successful, season are there. However, the starting quarterback role must be decisively won. The Hoosiers can't afford to lose a non-conference game, and IU's defense will need new faces to rise to the occasion, particularly at the linebacker position.
If IU stays relatively healthy and the Hoosiers avoid losing conference games against mediocre Big Ten teams like they have in years past, IU might just be the surprise of the conference in 2018.
However, I'm the football columnist, so it's more fun for me to be optimistic and wrong, than pessimistic and right.
Stefan Krajisnik, IDS Sports Editor, projected record: 6-6
When I went through IU’s schedule, I was surprised that I came out with a 6-6 record because I felt that this year’s roster is not nearly as strong overall as last year’s.
Now looking back, I see that this team is capable of qualifying for a bowl game if it can live up to message from last year of breaking through. One upset home win against Iowa, Michigan State or Penn State could be just what IU needs to get over the hump.
On the flipside of that, a lackadaisical game on the road against teams such as Minnesota or Rutgers could result in big long-term effects for IU.
There are about seven games on IU’s schedule that could go either way depending on which team shows up. If the team we saw last year against Michigan and Michigan State shows up week in and week out, IU could finish with eight or more wins.
However, as we saw last year, you never know which team will show up, hence my .500 prediction.
TC Malik, IU Fall Sports Columnist, projected record: 8-4
Being in the Big Ten East, arguably the best division in all of college football, IU faces a tough uphill battle every year. This year is no different, with No. 5 Ohio State, No. 10 Penn State, No. 11 Michigan State and No. 14 Michigan all on the schedule. IU will have trouble in conference play.
However, their non-conference slate features beatable opponents in Florida International, Virginia and Ball State. They can easily go 3-0 to start the season.
Tom Allen brings the best recruiting class to Bloomington since 2014, a class that included Simmie Cobbs Jr., Tegray Scales, Devine Redding, Wes Martin and Zander Diamont. IU will take advantage of the young talent on the roster, especially with the new redshirt rule which allows players to play in four games while still being considered a redshirt, giving them an extra year of eligibility.
Pencil in the Hoosiers for one big upset this year as they will have plenty of opportunities against the top teams in the nation. Finally, reclaiming the Old Oaken Bucket in the season finale will send IU to Allen's first bowl appearance as the full-time head coach.
Sean Mintert, IU Football Reporter, projected record: 6-6
Without any word on the starting quarterback decision, it’s hard to nail down a real prediction for IU this season. However, the return of junior wide receiver Nick Westbrook along with sure-handed senior Luke Timian will be a huge help to whoever sets up under center. The offensive line should also be much improved, as senior center Nick Linder joins an experienced group with something to prove after a rough 2017 season.
With regards to the schedule, obviously the games against Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State will be tough, but the rest of the slate doesn’t look too bad. With FIU, Virginia and Ball State to start the season, there’s a real chance the Hoosiers begin conference play at 3-0. The road trip to Rutgers should produce another win, and home games against Iowa, Maryland and Purdue can all be classified as winnable games. This looks like a 6-6 team that will be heading to a bowl game with a win over Purdue in the final game of the season.
Murphy Wheeler, IDS Sports Editor, IU Football Reporter, projected record: 6-6
Compared to 2017's IU team, this year's squad is less experienced defensively but has a much more forgiving schedule.
Coach Tom Allen loses the likes of cornerback Rashard Fant and linebackers Tegray Scales and Chris Covington on the defensive side, which hurts. However, the team also has some winnable upset opportunities any home against Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa and Purdue.
What turns me off with this team is all the positions that are still up in the air. Quarterback, tight end and linebacker are just a few positions that are still major unknowns heading into the season.
One thing I am impressed with is some of the depth on the offensive end, which should be a major improvement from last year for the Hoosiers. They have a lot of options at both running back and wide receiver, which gives whoever the starting quarterback is plenty of weapons to work with. A more experienced offensive line is also important, considering that was a major weakness for IU at times last season.
I went back and forth on five or six wins for this team, but I think they will earn one of those upset wins at home, with the most likely candidates being Iowa and Purdue. However, I can also see them losing one of those very important and winnable road games, possibly against somebody like Minnesota.
They'll need somebody to step up on defense and have a big breakout year as well. Whether it's somebody that's been around for a while like junior linebacker Reakwon Jones or young true freshmen like linebacker Micah McFadden or defensive backs Reese Taylor and Jaylin Williams, somebody needs to break through and fill the holes that are left over from last year.
I'll stay positive and say those things happen. IU gets six wins and heads to a bowl game.
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