hilariously pointless exercise preseason Associated Press Top 25 is out! I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but the Hoosiers ... well, you may want to sit down to hear this:
The Hoosiers don't appear in the poll at any point. They didn't receive a single vote.
I called each and every writer who votes in the poll, demanding that they address what has to be the largest oversight in poll-making history. DIDN'T THEY READ OUR PREDICTION MANIFESTO? HAVE THEY SEEN THE SHINY HELMETS?
Oh ... right ... five wins and a number of big contributor departures on offense, along with a defense that exists only in theory means you're not getting any preseason football points in a poll that has no direct weight on the new College Football Playoff system. Regardless, let's take a look at how our B1G brethren stacked up.
OSU comes in at 5th, MSU at 8th, Wisconsin at 14th, and Nebraska at 22nd; while Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn State each received at least one vote in the poll. So eight of the 14 Big Ten teams received votes in the AP poll, but Indiana joins the company of Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Maryland, and Rutgers as the teams who did not. Which is, of course, disappointing, but not unexpected.
We've talked about IU's improvement under Kevin Wilson for some time, but now is the year to break out of the 4-5 win quagmire and get among the bowling teams and, maybe, JUST MAYBE, into the backend of the Top 25, because college sports are more fun with that number next to your team's name. It's like a little validation that keeps you going when the on-field results may not look so good. Maybe you're down a few points on the road and think, "Man, are we even any good?" and then you see that little "21" or whatever next to your name and it reminds you that you're totally at least a little good.
To get that little number, you've got to WIN GAMES (no way Kick tell us more). And fortunately for IU, of the six teams who don't appear in the poll, they play 3 of them and are 1 of them, meaning there's only two teams (Illinois and Minnesota) that isn't ranked and not on IU's conference schedule. Of the ranked B1G teams, IU only plays two, but it's the two "best" ones. And they play the majority of the teams that exist in the purgatory between being ranked and being unranked: the mysterious "Also Receiving Votes Category." So the conference schedule ends up looking like this:
RANKED TEAMS AT HOME: Michigan State
RANKED TEAMS ON ROAD: Ohio State
UNRANKED TEAMS AT HOME: Maryland, Penn State, Purdue
UNRANKED TEAMS ON ROAD: Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers
Notable in non-conference is a ranked Mizzou (24) on the road as well.
Preseason polls, however, are, shall we say: unreliable. They're mostly based on what a team achieved the previous year along with a brief consideration of the pros / cons of their offseason. There's no way to see how the offseason actually will play out on the field, which is why you can't put a ton of stock into these polls as a means of evaluating how good team is / isn't or how tough a team's schedule is / isn't. But let's do it anyway:
From a conference standpoint, that's an extremely manageable schedule, or at least it should be. Indiana has failed to live up to lower expectations in the past, and I know I'm not alone in the fanbase when I say that I'm cautiously optimistic but I simply can't fully believe until I see it myself.