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Where are the wins? A closer look at IU’s schedule

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ESPN’s College Football Power Index points us to those sweet, sweet dubs

Indiana v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

My backyard is carpeted with freshly fallen leaves, the air is getting cooler and we’re only 33 days away from what should — fingers crossed — be Indiana’s first game day of the year.

That means it’s time to start thinking about Tom Allen’s Hoosiers winning several Big Ten matchups this season.

Luckily, ESPN’s computers have done the heavy lifting for us. The Worldwide Leader’s College Football Power Index has been updated to reflect Saturday’s schedule reveal and show how the Hoosiers might fare. Developed seven years ago as a “predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward”, the FPI uses data from returning starters, past performance, recruiting rankings and coaching tenure to produce its annual preseason projections.

Overall, Indiana’s team is ranked 18th nationally in the preseason model, good for fifth best in the entire Big Ten. The Hoosiers are due to play each of the top four teams in the league (No. 1 Ohio State, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 Penn State, No. 15 Michigan) and four of the bottom five conference programs (No. 47 Purdue, No. 58 Michigan State, No. 64 Rutgers, No. 71 Maryland).

So, with all that in mind, here’s how the FPI sees IU’s first eight games unfolding:

Penn State v Indiana Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

WEEK 1: PENN STATE

Win percentage: 26.3%

Penn State is clearly a tier — or more — above Indiana, but the Hoosiers usually manage to give the Lions a bit of resistance. Just ignore Saquon Barkley’s Heisman audition in State College in 2017. Anyway, season openers are almost always squirrelly and it’s as good an occasion as any to pull out a surprise win.

WEEK 2: AT RUTGERS

Win percentage: 81.4%

Expect Rutgers to more than double its passing output from last year’s IU game. Even so, this sure looks like IU’s first win of the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Michigan at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

WEEK 3: MICHIGAN

Win percentage: 49.8%

Coin flip! My big, bold prediction every season since 2014 has been an IU win over Michigan, a program the Hoosiers have not toppled since 1987. Mark your calendars.

WEEK 4: AT MICHIGAN STATE

Win percentage: 79.6%

Last September, IU came awfully close to pulling out its first win in East Lansing since 2001. This is very much a new-look Spartan side — new coach, new starting quarterback, and several new defensive starters. Given all the production returning for Indiana, it’s advantage IU.

WEEK 5: AT OHIO STATE

Win percentage: 8.6%

Good luck, Hoosiers!

Maryland v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

WEEK 6: MARYLAND

Win percentage: 90.5%

The Terps have some intriguing players, particularly at the offensive skill positions. But they’re probably still a year or two away. Go ahead and fly Fred’s big, goddamn Victory Flag.

WEEK 7: AT WISCONSIN

Win percentage: 16.5%

Madison in December: What could go wrong? When the Wisconsin game was the season-opening matchup on each of the first two versions of the schedule, it didn’t sound so bad — squirrelly football, and all. But this? Yikes.

WEEK 8: PURDUE

Win percentage: TBD

The computers aren’t getting ahead of themselves, but that won’t stop us. The Bucket? Mark Deal is keepin’ that bad boy for another year.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports