For the second consecutive season, Indiana opens at home on a Thursday night against a FCS (I-AA) opponent. Last year, Eastern Kentucky stayed close to the Hoosiers. This season, IU takes on the Towson Tigers, a team that has played only two other FBS opponents in its history (lopsided losses to Navy in 2008 and Northwestern in 2009). Incidentally, last year's NU-Towson game in Evanston drew 17,857 fans. If IU can approach the 36,759 it drew for last year's Thursday night game, the Tigers might think they are in the Big House.
Under various names, the university now known as Towson University has existed since 1866, but the school did not begin playing football until 1968. Much like Indiana State and Ball State, Towson began as a teachers' college and evolved into a full-fledged university. Intriguingly, College Football Data Warehouse lists the Tigers' 1968 coach as "unknown." That's 1968, not 1868. Couldn't they just call someone who was on the team in 1968 and ask who the coach was? I understand that the early details of some college football programs can be lost to history, but this is a bit much.
The Tigers' current coach is Rob Ambrose, who went 2-9 in his first season. The Tigers' last winning season was in 2006, when they finished 7-4, but Towson has been .500 or better in 28 of its 42 football seasons. Towson never has reached the postseason since its move to Division I, but did qualify for the Division II playoffs in 1983, 1984, and 1986. In 1976, while in Division III, the Tigers reached the championship game, where they lost to St. John's (MN).
I'll have more about the Tigers as the game approaches, but their most dangerous individual appears to be Yaky Ibia, a defensive tackle who is a preseason honorable mention All-American. Per this blog, Ibia is the only Tiger receiving all-conference mention, and Towson is picked to finish dead last in the Colonial Athletic Association.Otherwise, Towson finished 2-9 and showed little life. A competitive game would be bad news.
In short, this is the sort of warmup game against a team that is below average even by the standards of its own subdivision. Hopefully, unlike in last year's EKU game, the Hoosiers won't allow the opponent to keep it close.