Indiana hasn’t won eight games in consecutive years since 1988, but count CBS Sports among those who believe the drought is about to end.
College football analyst Tom Fornelli recently went about predicting win-loss records for the Big Ten in 2020, taking a favorable view of the Hoosiers. Fornelli sees an 8-4 record and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten East awaiting Indiana, assuming we see a full, 12-game season at some point in the coming months.
The eight wins include those over Western Kentucky, Ball State, UConn, Maryland, Rutgers, Michigan State, Illinois and Purdue. Two of those games — UConn and Rutgers — are on the road. You can guess the losses: at Wisconsin, Penn State, at Ohio State and at Michigan.
(As a quick aside, my bold prediction for the season is an IU win over Penn State on Halloween — with College GameDay in town — that lifts the Hoosiers to 7-1 entering the season’s final month. Yes, I got into the Skrewball at lunch. Why do you ask?)
Here’s Fornelli’s assessment of IU’s upcoming season:
“It felt weird doing an exercise like this and thinking, ‘Oh yeah, Indiana should win that game,’ so often, but that’s exactly what happened. The Hoosiers post their second consecutive eight-win season, which would be the first time they’ve done that since the 1987-88 campaigns. Welcome to a strange new world in which you expect the Hoosiers to beat every Big Ten team on their schedule that isn’t one of the conference’s traditional powers.”
Fornelli’s optimism is not misplaced.
In February, analytics guru Bill Connelly compiled a list of each FBS program’s expected returning production in 2020. Indiana ranked 11th overall — behind only Northwestern (first) among Big Ten schools — though quarterback Peyton Ramsey’s transfer will affect IU’s placement if and when that chart is updated. Even so, IU is comfortable with the quarterback position, and there’s a lot to like elsewhere in the offense. Perhaps most intriguing, no team in the conference has more production returning to its defense next season than Indiana (82 percent).
And speaking of the conference, here’s how Fornelli sees it all lining up:
1. Ohio State (11-1, 8-1)
2. Michigan (9-3, 7-2)
3. Penn State (9-3, 7-2)
4. Indiana (8-4, 5-4)
5. Michigan State (5-7, 3-6)
6. Maryland (4-8, 2-7)
7. Rutgers (3-9, 1-8)
1. Minnesota (9-3, 6-3)
2. Wisconsin (8-4, 6-3)
3. Iowa (7-5, 5-4)
4. Northwestern (7-5, 4-5)
5. Nebraska (7-5, 4-5)
6. Purdue (6-6, 3-6)
7. Illinois (5-7, 2-7)
Anyway, this post comes with the usual disclaimer that there are still plenty of unknowns hanging over the sport of college football, and it’s anybody’s guess what changes could be in store for Indiana’s schedule if a version of the season is played at all.
All we have are weird, random predictions right now. At least, here’s one that will make most long-suffering folks happy.