Memorial Day weekend is mere days away, which means College Football Season Preview SZN is upon us. Actually, it may have already started.
Although we don’t consider Season Preview SZN officially underway until the Phil Steele yearbook hits the front porch, Athlon released its preseason top 25 last week, and the good folks at Pro Football Focus offered a peek at their 2021 computer simulations on Tuesday. So it’s starting to feel an awful lot like the heat of summer around these parts.
At the latter site, IU is ranked at No. 24 in the nation — one spot ahead of Michigan, which famously lost a football game in Bloomington last fall. Remember?
Anyway, here’s what PFF’s Eric Eager and Ben Brown had to say about the Hoosiers:
Indiana has playmakers returning on both sides of the ball, with our ELO rankings and simulation higher on the team than the current betting market expectation. The Hoosiers have a 5.9% implied probability to win the Big Ten title and are tied for the 24th-best odds to win the national championship. Michael Penix Jr. returning from his ACL injury to start the season should be a big boost to the Hoosiers’ future outlook.
Indiana’s placement in PFF’s rankings makes IU the third-highest-rated team in the Big Ten East, following No. 3 Ohio State and No. 19 Penn State.
And here’s where each of Indiana’s 2021 opponents are slotted in PFF’s system:
- Sept. 4: at Iowa (No. 9)
- Sept. 11: vs. Idaho (FCS/Not ranked)
- Sept. 18: vs. Cincinnati (No. 12)
- Sept. 25: at Western Kentucky (No. 99)
- Oct. 2: at Penn State (No. 19)
- Oct. 16: vs. Michigan State (No. 70)
- Oct. 23: vs. Ohio State (No. 3)
- Oct. 30: at Maryland (No. 56)
- Nov. 6: at Michigan (No. 25)
- Nov. 13: vs. Rutgers (No. 108)
- Nov. 20: vs. Minnesota (No. 38)
- Nov. 27: at Purdue (No. 80)
Altogether, the Big Ten landed six programs in PFF’s top 25, including No. 14 Wisconsin.
During an appearance on PFF’s 2 for 1 Drafts podcast on Monday, Allen talked about the difficulty of IU’s upcoming schedule:
“The big one is Iowa,” Allen said. “That’s our first game of the season. It’s gonna be the second time we’ve started a scheduled season on the road with a Big Ten opponent. Last year, we were supposed to start in Wisconsin and that game didn’t happen until later in the year because of the pandemic. But we’re scheduled to go to Iowa. I’ve never been to Iowa City to play a game as a coach, (but) it’s a tough, tough place to play. I know that for sure. They’re a really, really good football team. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz has done a phenomenal job for an awful long time. They’re just big, physical, (and) consistently play great defense. I got a ton of respect for their defensive staff, as a defensive guy. It doesn’t seem to matter who they have, (player-wise). The product is always the same. They have a great quarterback coming back, a lot of playmakers around him and a really, really talented tailback, and then the O-line play is kinda what they’re known for. To me, it’s tough. You got to play them and that’s part of our schedule. We’re probably ranked as one of the top schedules — most difficult schedules in the country, but that’s part of it. You mention Cincinnati, that’s one of our three non-conference games and we already have a challenging enough schedule within conference play. Then you go play a team like that that’s going to be in the top 10 in the country and are already right now. Coach (Luke) Fickell has done a phenomenal job recruiting and developing. I’m watching their film already from last year and I’m just so impressed from top to bottom, all three phases. They’re just really, really well-coached, so that’s going to be a huge, huge test for us. ... But man, right now, all the focus is on Iowa.”