Best Case/Worst Case: Indiana Hoosiers

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Best Case/Worst Case: Indiana Hoosiers

Expectations are teeming in Bloomington, as Kevin Wilson enters his third season on the job. A high-powered offense gives the Hoosiers a chance in just about every game. But how will the defense perform, as Indiana looks for its bowl since 2007? Here is my best- and worst-case scenarios for the Hoosiers.

[ RELATED: Visit Dienhart’s Best Case/Worst Case archive ]

INDIANA

Best case: The Hoosiers dispatch Indiana State based on talent alone. Sorry, Sycamores. Navy comes to Bloomington—and Indiana has revenge on its mind after dropping a close game in Annapolis last season. The mojo continues vs. Bowling Green. Missouri visits next. And this is a slumping Tigers’ program which Indiana ambushes in a high-scoring game. The Hoosiers get two weeks to prep for Penn State, which is 16-0 all-time vs. Indiana (not counting vacated wins). The Hoosiers relieve years of frustration with a win, outscoring the Nittany Lions in a wild game to move to—are you ready for this?—5-0, and into the national rankings for the first time since 1994. Back-to-back trips to Michigan State and Michigan bring IU back to earth, however. But Indiana’s two-game losing skid ends with a visit from Minnesota, the Hoosiers’ sixth triumph of the season which stamps their ticket to a bowl for the first time since 2007. From here on out, it’s all gravy. And, a visit from Illinois is more gravy. Indiana isn’t ready to win at Wisconsin or at Ohio State. No shame in that. But the Hoosiers end the season with a big smile by dumping rival Purdue in Bloomington. Indiana, which had lost four of the last five meetings with Purdue finishes 8-4 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten. Kevin Wilson is named Big Ten coach of the year.

Aug. 29: Indiana State – W
Sept. 7: Navy – W
Sept. 14: Bowling Green – W
Sept. 21: Missouri – W
Oct. 5: Penn State – W
Oct. 12: at Michigan State – L
Oct. 19: at Michigan – L
Nov. 2: Minnesota – W
Nov. 9: Illinois – W
Nov. 16: at Wisconsin – L
Nov. 23: at Ohio State – L
Nov. 30: Purdue – W
8-4 overall; 4-4 in the Big Ten

Worst case: Indiana eked by Indiana State last season, 24-17. It ekes by, again, vs. a strong FCS Sycamores program. Playing Navy always is tricky. Yes, the Hoosiers have more talent. But the Midshipmen out execute Indiana for a second season in a row. Indiana gets well vs. Bowling Green, taking a close win. But Missouri invades Bloomington and out talents the Hoosiers. October opens with a visit from Penn State, which wins—again—vs. Indiana to make it 17-0 all-time vs. IU. The Hoosiers hang for a half at Michigan State and at Michigan—but fade fast in the second half. The Hoosiers take a 2-5 mark into November, needing to go 4-1 to make a bowl. Indiana overlooks an improved Minnesota team and loses, pushing its losing streak to five games. The bleeding stops with a visit from slumping Illinois before beatings ensue at Wisconsin and then at Ohio State. The season ends with one last punch in the nose from Purdue, which continues its dominance over the Hoosiers. A 3-9 overall record and 1-7 Big Ten mark has some in Bloomington antsy. Stay tuned.

Aug. 29: Indiana State – W
Sept. 7: Navy – L
Sept. 14: Bowling Green – W
Sept. 21: Missouri – L
Oct. 5: Penn State – L
Oct. 12: at Michigan State – L
Oct. 19: at Michigan – L
Nov. 2: Minnesota – L
Nov. 9: Illinois – W
Nov. 16: at Wisconsin – L
Nov. 23: at Ohio State – L
Nov. 30: Purdue – L
3-9 overall; 1-7 Big Ten

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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