The watch lists have been released. The Phil Steele College Football Preview has been published. The conference media days are behind us. Fall practice is underway. Indeed, we’ve already hit several of the faithful, time-tested checkpoints of the college football preseason. Now, it’s time for another.
ESPN’s computers are giving us a preview of how the upcoming regular season slate might unfold for Tom Allen’s Hoosiers, who are ranked No. 27 in the Worldwide Leader’s College Football Power Index. Developed eight 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.
IU is the fifth-highest rated team in the Big Ten this year as it prepares to navigate a schedule with four FPI top 25 opponents: No. 23 Iowa, No. 22 Cincinnati, No. 13 Penn State, and No. 4 Ohio State.
Here’s how the ESPN model sees the Hoosiers’ full 12-game regular season slate breaking down:
WEEK 1: AT No. 23 IOWA
Win percentage: 38.9%
After weeks of understandable teeth gnashing over the College Football Playoff rankings last fall, IU will get its chance to shove it to Iowa athletic director/CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta, a man who likes to talk how Magic Johnson tweets. IU’s last win at Kinnick came four trips ago in 2007.
WEEK 2: IDAHO
Win percentage: 98.7%
A year after one of the most exciting IU football seasons in generations, the Hoosiers will have their first chance to play in front of the Indiana faithful. It should be a fun, celebratory atmosphere at Memorial Stadium against a team that went 2-4 during a mishmash spring season.
WEEK 3: No. 22 CINCINNATI
Win percentage: 54.5%
Toss up! It feels like the Hoosiers and Bearcats are kindred spirits entering 2021. They both have exciting quarterbacks, national attention and CFP upside. This is the first of a two-game series between the schools, with IU getting first crack as the home team.
WEEK 4: AT No. 106 WESTERN KENTUCKY
Win percentage: 84.1%
Conference USA road game! awuooooooooooooooo (wolf howl)! Only a 15.9% chance that something goes terribly wrong!
WEEK 5: AT No. 13 PENN STATE
Win percentage: 28.5%
The nerds will be quick to remind you that IU has never won in State College.
WEEK 6: No. 45 MICHIGAN STATE
Win percentage: 71.5%
Because of ... *gestures wildly* ... things, the Hoosiers were not allowed to spit in the Old Brass Spittoon after last season’s 24-0 victory in East Lansing. However, the computers believe the saliva will finally be flying inside IU’s locker room this October.
WEEK 7: No. 4 OHIO STATE
Win percentage: 17.3%
How will Michael Penix and Ty Fryfogle follow up against the Buckeyes after last season’s effort?
WEEK 8: AT No. 61 MARYLAND
Win percentage: 62.2%
If we’re flipping the script and predicting a frustrating, somewhat unforeseen loss on this season’s schedule, this feels like the one — a potential trap game (!) during Halloween weekend.
WEEK 9: AT No. 28 MICHIGAN
Win percentage: 42.9%
Every year since, like, 2013 or 2014, my bold preseason prediction has been an IU win over Michigan. Now, such a forecast doesn’t feel so big and/or bold anymore.
WEEK 10: No. 75 RUTGERS
Win percentage: 83.5%
When this matchup rolls around, we’ll promise not to remind you that Rutgers passed for one (1) yard during its last visit to Memorial Stadium, affectionately known as The Yard Game.
WEEK 11: No. 55 MINNESOTA
Win percentage: 72.4%
I remember leaving Huntington Bank Stadium after IU’s loss there in 2018 and passing a couple Gophers players (I think) who appeared to be rippin’ Juuls as they walked home. “That’s who IU just lost to?” I thought to myself. Well, at least this time it looks like the Hoosiers are due for a win.
WEEK 12: AT No. 49 PURDUE
Win percentage: 55.4%
Back-to-back Bucket Games in West Lafayette? Back-to-back Bucket Games in West Lafayette.