October may be the spookiest season of all, but IU’s 2020 football season isn’t far behind. A murderers’ row of top-tier competition awaits the Hoosiers, who enter each game like an unsuspecting victim opening a creaky door in a haunted house.
While IU has plenty of demons to exorcise before becoming a national contender, there’s a chance it slays a few monsters this fall. Here are the most vile, ghastly beasts on the Hoosiers’ schedule.
Michigan State: Frankenstein’s monster
Head coach Mel Tucker clearly channeled his inner Victor Frankenstein when assembling his staff.
Michigan State’s safeties, defensive line and cornerbacks coaches all previously oversaw a different position group for the Spartans but have been haphazardly removed and grafted onto a separate limb of the roster.
For his remaining assistants, Tucker hastily sewed on a handful of colleagues from the University of Colorado, praying these transplants will not be rejected by the deformed body of the Michigan State sideline.
I expect the defense to be formidable as usual. Unfortunately, even Frankenstein’s monster’s immense intelligence couldn’t overcome his ugly side.
What’s that obscene green mass stumbling toward you? Don’t worry, it’s just the Spartan offense, and it isn’t getting anywhere very quickly.
“The Walking Dead.” Zombie-themed video games. Michigan’s national championship hopes.
Some things just haven’t aged well since 2010.
The worst part about Michigan is how it infects other teams with its style of play. The Wolverines shut down their opponents’ offense, forcing them to adopt Michigan’s own slow, clunky, unwatchable scheme.
Often in zombie movies, a character gets bitten, leaving his fellow survivors to decide whether or not to execute their companion before he completely transforms into a mindless flesh-eater.
I urge the untainted schools of the Big Ten and beyond — the moment you start thinking bubble screens and three-yard runs qualify as a high-speed offense, it's time to falsely assure your playbook everything is going to be okay and load the proverbial revolver.
Penn State: It
The titular villain of Stephen King’s "It" is a virtually unkillable, extradimensional being that takes various forms to torment the young citizens of Derry, Maine. Its many gruesome incarnations differ slightly but are generally grotesque versions of a menacing clown known as Pennywise.
Penn State follows a similar, eerie pattern of putting on new but similar faces.
Year after year, whether it’s Matt McGloin, Christian Hackenberg, Trace McSorely or now Sean Clifford, the demonic shapeshifter that is the Penn State offense manifests itself through a serviceable quarterback whose name sounds like the conventionally attractive protagonist of an early 2000s Disney Channel Original Movie.
Furthermore, one major conceit is that "It" only terrorizes Derry once every three decades. Coincidentally, this is roughly how long fans have been waiting for Penn State to be scary again.
Wisconsin: The Mummy
Wisconsin is truly a relic from a forgotten age. While most teams try to spread the field with quick receivers, the Badgers churn out 1,000-yard running backs as if they were in an ancient era of pyramids, papyrus and fullbacks.
Of course, even the great pharaohs of a lost civilization have their limitations. It seems whenever Wisconsin reaches the Big Ten Championship, the layers of linen begin to unravel, revealing a musty, shriveled corpse underneath.
Be wary, all who enter the Badgers’ tomb. The treasures of the Russell Wilson empire have long been raided, and only a ghostly whisper of a downfield passing attack can be heard echoing across dank sarcophagi filled with dead playoff aspirations.
Ohio State: Jaws
I could write pages about the Buckeyes' physical prowess, but there is already a state full of people who didn’t actually go to Ohio State who can extol its football team.
For now, I will compare the elite squad to Jaws, the apex predator made famous in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller. Ohio State is stuffed to its gills with talent running deeper than the waters in which it lurks. Whenever one superstar leaves the Buckeyes, he is simply replaced by another row of razor-sharp athletes.
Still, Ohio State’s last three meetings with Clemson University tell the same story as every Jaws film. The great white can terrorize all the smaller fish in the ocean, but it ultimately gets blown to pieces by someone from the Atlantic coast with a ton of firepower.
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