Indiana football ended nonconference play with a disappointing 21-point loss to the University of Cincinnati. Entering conference play with a 3-1 record overall and a 1-0 record in Big Ten play having defeated Illinois in week one, the Hoosiers are sure to have an uphill battle for the remainder of the season.
There are a number of possibilities for how Indiana’s final eight games will go, but what’s the most likely outcome? Here’s how I see the Hoosiers performing in their Big Ten slate.
While the Cornhuskers have opened as surprising one-touchdown favorites, Indiana should get a bounce-back win on the road. Nebraska has been a dysfunctional program for the past few seasons, known for an inability to win close matchups under former coach Scott Frost. Although Nebraska fired Frost earlier this season, Saturday night shouldn’t be anything different.
The following week is homecoming for the Hoosiers, which should make for a packed Memorial Stadium and electric environment — a huge advantage! Oh — hey there Michigan. The No. 4-ranked Wolverines have looked dominant thus far and unless the Hoosiers play a near-perfect game, it likely won’t be much of a contest.
Following Michigan, the Hoosiers get another home game as the Terrapins come to Bloomington for what should be a toss-up, especially with the status of Maryland junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa questionable. Assuming Tagovailoa is ready to go by this game, I’ll say Maryland escapes Bloomington with a win.
Ah, Rutgers. Last season, the highlight of the Indiana-Rutgers matchup was the Hoosiers student section forming a shirtless section in the freezing cold in an uneventful blowout in favor of the Scarlet Knights. This year should be different, and I see the Hoosiers returning the favor.
After Rutgers, Indiana has a bye week — the halfway mark of its remaining games. Using my predictions, the Hoosiers would be 5-3, just one win shy of a bowl game with four weeks to go.
vs. Penn State
Coming off their bye, the Hoosiers host the No. 11-ranked Nittany Lions for the first time since “The Reach,” Indiana’s epic 36-35 overtime win clinched through then-sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s heroics. Remember the feelings that moment evoked in Hoosier fans. Well, it won’t happen again this year. Penn State will take this one comfortably.
@ Ohio State
Do I really need to get into this one? Sorry to the optimists. It will be the Buckeyes by a lot.
@ Michigan State
Following the Ohio State game, the Hoosiers travel to East Lansing, Michigan, for a chance to win back the Old Brass Spittoon. Indiana kept up with a top-10 ranked Spartans team last season, and this year’s Spartans squad is a couple steps down from that level. Another 50-50 matchup in my eyes, and I’ll go with the Hoosiers to clinch a bowl game.
Finally, the Old Oaken Bucket game. Rival Purdue at Indiana. I don’t want to be that guy, but I’m afraid I have to be. So long as the Boilermakers have a healthy senior quarterback Aiden O’Connell, they should take the Bucket back to West Lafayette.
There you have it, a final regular season record of 6-6 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play for Indiana. The final four weeks are a gauntlet, but wins in the middle of the season can put the Hoosiers in a position to contend for a bowl before the final stretch. If this season ends with a bowl game, Hoosier fans should be celebrating after last year’s 2-10 performance.