Another year of Indiana football is nearly upon us. After an offseason filled with new coordinators, highly-rated signees and MIKE FREAKING PENIX we’re nearly ready for kickoff against Ball State on Saturday at Noon in Indianapolis. In celebration of the beginning of a new season, we gathered up some of our writers as well as some friends of the site to talk about what they think will happen this season on the gridiron.
CheesyCheesy3 (the poster formerly known as CheesyCheesy2): Once again, God has elected to punish us with the excitement of “Hoonsier Football game” this fall. Over the course of twelve Saturdays we’ll (read: me) make some wildly moody tweets, demand Tom Allen show his Penix, post lots of IU Football Goofy, and threaten to drive into the Ohio River due to Mark Dantonio still having a job. It’s fine guys! No I don’t want to go out tonight! I’m normal and smiling after this 27-17 loss to Mick McCall. I will not put on a shirt. Hoosiers go 7-5, I photoshop Goofy giving Harbaugh a wedgie, then the rising waters consume us all.
Michael Dugan: When you’re in the bottom half of the Big Ten East, your record isn’t going to be sexy. This Indiana team is going to be the best we’ve seen in a while, but the record probably won’t reflect that. Weapons galore on offense, talent returning on a Tom Allen defense and a very manageable non-conference portion of the schedule would be good for 8-9 wins in the West. The crossovers are tough but there are chances for home upsets. I’m going with 6-6 for this team.
Auston Matricardi: There’s so much reason for optimism with this team between the stable of talented, explosive weapons of offense, the returning production on defense at a handful of positions, the new coordinators on both sides of the ball and a highly-rated group of underclassmen by IU’s standards. There’s also plenty of reason for pessimism because, well, it’s Indiana Hoosiers football. That being said, I’m choosing optimism at the dawn of the 2019 season. The Hoosiers finally get The Big Win as Michael Penix leads them to a 8-4 regular-season record and then, for the first time since 1991, a victory during bowl season. #9WINDIANA lives.
Sean Mintert: After Michael Penix was named the starting quarterback earlier this week, I’ve really started to convince myself that Indiana could win seven or more games this season. IU’s offense should be electric, with Penix connecting with receivers like Nick Westbrook, Donavan Hale and Whop Philyor. Though the defense does replace a significant amount of talent, players like Juwan Burgess and James Head could be poised for breakout seasons, giving the Hoosier defense some much-needed depth.
In terms of the schedule, early games against Ball State and Eastern Illinois should have the Hoosiers off to a 2-0 start. The first big test of the year comes when Ohio State comes to Bloomington on September 14. With the Buckeyes fielding a new starting quarterback and a new head coach, I think IU can pull the early-season upset, pushing the Hoosiers to 3-0. Tough road games are prevalent in IU’s schedule, and I think the Hoosiers will drop games against Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State. Dropping the Penn State game will leave Indiana 7-3 going into the Senior Day showdown with Michigan. The Wolverines are talented enough to make a push at the College Football Playoffs, and that will be too much for IU to handle. However, I think IU will recover with a win in the Old Oaken Bucket game the following week, giving them an 8-4 record for the season.
Ben Raphel: It’s the third year of the Tom Allen era at IU, but it feels like a fresh start for the Hoosiers this year. With a new OC and a new DC, something just feels different about this Hoosier squad than in years past. The move to start Michael Penix right away is a bold one, and bold moves aren’t something we’ve seen from this program in a while. Will this all translate to wins on the field? I’m not so sure. But I think IU has a terrific chance to start 5-2 heading into a game at Nebraska. I’m afraid the Hoosiers will falter down the stretch from there, but I think they can pick off at least one of their B1G West opponents this season (NW, Nebraska, Purdue) en route to a 6-6 season and a bowl berth. Let’s say for kicks that the B1G West win is Purdue in West Lafayette, just to produce the maximum amount of banter.
Alex Robbins: I’m awfully encouraged by Penix getting the starting nod. With an offensive line that should be worlds better, the offense is going to be as dynamic and explosive as any we’ve seen since Nate Sudfeld’s units, and maybe even before that. That said, the B1G East is an unforgiving and unrelenting hellscape, and I’m not convinced this year (despite getting the big boys at home) is the year they pull one off. But Michigan State and Penn State aren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, and Indiana can beat anyone in the B1G. We may not get #9WIndiana, but 7 or 8 wins is where this team will land. We won’t be sweating bowl eligibility when the Bucket game rolls around this season. 7-5.
Jacob Rude: New year, new reason for optimism for IU. I could say the buzz around Penix feels different but that’s about as cliche as it gets. What I know is IU is going to lose at least one game it shouldn’t have and hang tough with ranked teams before bowing out. But I’m never anything if not dangerously optimistic about IU football. Give me the 9 wins. Prediction: 9-3
Chris Schutte: As jaded and nihilistic that we may be as Indiana Football fans, there’s a buzz and optimism this preseason that’s been a changeup from the usual existential dread that rolls around every August. The roster is as deep with talent as we’ve ever seen. The schedule, despite having the usual matchups against the East Division’s Big Four, has enough winnable games on it that make a bowl game appearance feasible, if not the expectation. Kalen DeBoer isn’t Mike DeBord! And with Michael Penix at quarterback, the ceiling for this team is closer to the middle of the Big Ten than it is to the bottom. Against my better judgment, I’m choosing to believe that Indiana can reach that ceiling this year. 7-5.
Kyle Robbins: [ahem]
Non-con is manageable-to-borderline easy. Ball State, Eastern Illinois, & UConn. That’s three wins right there, with not too much difficulty.