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Big Ten Football Countdown: No.7 Indiana

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Indiana looks to keep the recent momentum going into 2013

SB Nation

Indiana football has never been real relevant in the Big Ten, wasn't real relevant to begin the century and isn't looking like it will make headlines beginning with this decade. In 2013 that all changes. The football culture at Indiana is changing, new uniforms, Memorial stadium additions, increasing recruiting base and a rejuvenated fan base. 2012 was a momentous step for IU football going 4-8 with a 2-6 record. Though that may not seem like much, four of Indiana's losses were by less than four points and at one point Indiana controlled their own destiny and a shot at a Big Ten Championship game bid. The most reassuring feature on this Hoosier team is that it returns 21 starters from a season ago, the most in the Big Ten. Those extra players may make the difference in a four point game. An easy slate is short of ensuring Indiana a winning season, but should provide Indiana with at least a .500 record. The rest of Indiana's athletic teams, men's basketball, men's soccer, baseball, have made a large upswing to start the new century, and football is next.

2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6)

Returning Starters: 21 (10 OFF, 9 DEF, 2 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: C Will Matte

Key Losses on Defense: DT Adam Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr.

Head Coach: Kevin R. Wilson: 5-19 (3rd Year)

Strength: Offense

If there was one thing Indiana did right last season it was offense, and lot of it. Indiana ranked No.1 in the Big Ten in passing yards and No.3 in total offense, and with four returning starters to the offensive line, the sky's the limit for the Hoosiers. QB Cameron Coffman (2734 yds. 15 TD) returns to the Hoosiers and has his top four targets retuning as well, including WR Cody Latimer (805 yds. 6 TD), WR Shane Wynn (660 yds, 6 TD) and WR Hori Hughes (639 yds. 3 TD). The running game for Indiana was a bit sluggish last season, but should pick up in 2013 as the top 5 rushers return for the Hoosiers including top rusher RB Stephen Houston (749 yds. 12 TD).

Weakness/Questions: Can the defense keep up?

At this point, the only thing holding Indiana back is their defense: to put it simply, it was terrible last season. Indiana ranked dead last in points allowed in the Big Ten last season with 35.3 points per game. With 9 starters returning to the defense, Indiana should be seeing a smaller number on the opponents scoreboards. Indiana must improve the rush defense (ranked 116th in yards allowed with 231 per game) if they expect to win this fall, although with a strong defensive front, led by LB David Cooper (86 TOT) LB Griffen Dahlstrom (48 TOT) and LB Forisse Hardin (48 TOT), Indiana should be able to weather. Indiana has the coaching, the scheduling advantage and the offense, all they need is the defense, which of course isn't guaranteed.

Projected Record: 7-5 (3-5)

Bowl Game: Heart of Dallas Bowl