CheesyCheesy3: The newly minted year has given you familiar disappointment as you leave TIAA Bank Field faintly cheered up by a Tennessee fan relating to you “At least we both hate Kentucky!” Your choice of college football team is once again in question, but surely this will be the low point of 2020. Plenty of different sports are to come, including a March filled with basketball (evidently Indiana has a men’s team) and there’s still lots of time to be spent in public, acting perfectly normal. What a year! A new decade! Guess what idiot? God has seen you waiting for the ferry back to your hotel, scoffing at the Smokey fans’ talk of winning the SEC East next year, and he is pissed. He is punishing your IUFB fandom and he hates you personally. Hope you like being inside because that’s where everyone is now. Our good friend Stan Chera is dead but at least you have Goofy the dog huh? Everything has gone to shit because Tom Allen, who will probably be revealed as Q in late November, doesn’t care about onside kick coverage. This is all your fault for believing in the impossible and coming back for more. Hoosiers go 6-3 and I contract the novel coronavirus attending the next bowl game. There is no end to the suffering.
Teddy Bailey: First time in my life that seemingly everyone is bullish on Indiana. An odd, rather dangerous feeling, but the 2020 Hoosiers live up to the hype (pending injury and virus outbreak). Penix and Philyor play a full season, Allen gets enough out of his inexperienced offensive line, and the duo of James Head and James Miller have breakout years to complement a veteran defense. Indiana upsets Penn State and takes care of business elsewhere to solidify its current place above Michigan State in the Big Ten East. 6-3.
Taylor Lehman: The stoppage of time in 2020 has awkwardly carried the optimism surrounding Indiana Football, stepping over the collapsed college basketball postseason and standing in line for a handful of weeks this year. If following up the 2019 season was set to be the toughest challenge of Tom Allen’s tenure, following it up during a pandemic with virtually no spring and an unorthodox summer — a setting that favors the haves over the have nots — exponentially magnifies the stakes. Yet the pulse of the fanbase seems to trust in Allen, which remains shockingly fresh in Bloomington. Despite the likes of Mike Penix, Whop Philyor, one of the best running back duos in the conference, one of the most intriguing gadget players, a deep interior defensive line, and an NFL strength coach, transition remains one of the most unsettling forces known to man. There were always going to be foundational concerns in 2020 — an unaligned offensive line, a weak edge rush, questions in the secondary, etc. — but the turnover on staff will likely plague Indiana after an offseason that actively encouraged people to stay away from each other. While the pros of this season seem to outweigh the cons in numbers, the cons are heavy in the Big Ten. They were always expected to be following 2019, even before Kalen DeBoer, the strength team, Peyton Ramsey, and others departed. With little time for growing pains, I see Indiana going 3-5 this year. However, I don’t believe that’s indicative of the direction of the program. (Watch for Bryson Bonds, though. He will be great.)
BrianRampage: The last (and only) time I’ve been approached to provide a quote in regards to IU sports was in 2006 as a bartender at KoK when an IDS reporter asked me what I thought about the new Kelvin Sampson hire - And I really knocked that out of the park, as long as you consider horribly wrong opinions to be like home runs. BUT! Consider this my redemption tour. 2020 has been nothing but Chaos, and you know what team was borne from and molded by the Chaos? That’s right - Pitt. And if you shave Pitt and give them a bottle of Skrewball? That’s the Hoosiers, baby. IUFB is going to thrive and we’re going to see the Hoosiers Indiana harder than ever before. Let’s say: 7-1 (loss to Wisconsin, obviously) going into the B1G championship game before a team-wide outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease prematurely ends their season.
Sam Beishuizen: Indiana football is on the verge of an identity crisis. The Hoosiers are supposed to be bad. They’re supposed to find new and dumbfounding ways to lose, and we’re supposed to love them for it like the collective masochists that we are. That’s the bit, folks. So now what do we do with a good, maybe great Indiana team that has a future all-conference level quarterback, a legitimate defense and a competent coaching staff? How are they going to mess this up? Can they mess it up? Will them messing it up make us happy? Sad? Comforted? Distressed? The point is I’ve never been more confident about an Indiana football team being good and I’m just not sure how to feel. They’re going to win four games in inspired ways that are going to make Twitter a lot of fun.
Auston Matricardi: Please, for the love of God, don’t mess up the offense, Nick Sheridan. After getting a year of relief from watching DeBord ball, I’m not ready to go back to Bad Offense Indiana. I think that group will keep firing on all cylinders, but as an Indiana alumnus, I think I’m legally obligated to have senseless preseason anxiety about something. I think the defense could be pretty solid. There are a ton of Dudes in the back seven, and if you can just get a little something out of linemen like James Head Jr., Jerome Johnson, Demarcus Elliott and Sio Nofoagatoto’a (note: I spelled that correctly in one try without looking it up!) this might be a pretty good year defensively. The Hoosiers lose to Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, but other than that I like their chances quite a bit. Gimme a win over Iowa in the third-place crossover game and let’s roll into bowl season. 6-3.
Andy Wittry: As I was about to start writing about a predicted .500 regular season, I saw this tweet from Pro Football Focus. Take it in, in all its glory:
Big Ten has some serious QB talent pic.twitter.com/gVSyV0oWqE— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 23, 2020
The order of the top three quarterbacks feels right and it means that other than a Nov. 21 trip to Ohio State and assuming full health, IU will have a more talented player than its opponent at the most important position in team sports in seven out of its eight regular-season games. h/t to the godfather of IU sports media, Galen Clavio, who pointed out that IU has also a top-five player in the conference at RB, WR, TE, CB and DL, per PFF.
The Hoosiers have some top-end talent and some promising depth, and while it’s hard to project what home-field advantage means in a Big Ten season with no fans, I think most IU fans would take two early-season cracks at Penn State and Michigan at home in exchange for trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin, which recent history says are games that are almost assuredly going to be losses, regardless of where they’re played. It sounds like the Big Ten is going to try to avoid rematches in the conference’s final-week matchups, which probably matches IU up against Minnesota, Iowa or Nebraska – games where the spread is probably less than a touchdown in either direction. I see 5-4, which, under normal circumstances, probably would’ve added up to another 8-4ish regular season if you throw in a couple buy games and another winnable crossover game against the Big Ten West.
Mike Miller: So you’re telling me that this Indiana team has, at worst, the third-best quarterback in the Big Ten? That it has the deepest roster the program has seen since the Mallory era? That it has an honest-to-God path to six conference wins for the first time since 1987? Buddy, sign me up. This all still feels a little weird, this idea that IU is
maybe probably going to be pretty damn good. But in the weirdest, dumbest, most upside-down season possible, why not embrace it? 6-3. Now, where’s the Skrewball?