Bowl game for Indiana? WDRB Sports staff says Yes; And No
By WDRB Sports staff
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Only three programs from Power Five conferences have failed to make a single bowl appearance in the last five seasons.
One is Kansas, which is introducing a new coach, David Beaty, in 2015.
Another is Colorado, which is 10-39 over the last four seasons.
The third is Indiana, which has played in one bowl since 1993 – and has not won a bowl game since 1991.
Kevin Wilson was summoned to Bloomington from the University of Oklahoma after the 2010 season to fix that. So far it has not happened. Wilson’s team won five games in 2013 and then slipped back to four victories last season after losing quarterback Nate Sudfeld to a shoulder injury in the sixth game.
Sudfeld is healthy.
But running back Tevin Coleman has taken his 2,000 rushing yards to the Atlanta Falcons. The Hoosiers are breaking in three new starters in the defensive backfield.
With departures and injuries, Indiana does not have any returning receivers who caught more than eight passes last season.
What is the Hoosiers’ formula to win at least six games?
Good question. After opening against Southern Illinois Saturday in Bloomington, IU plays Florida International and Western Kentucky at home before visiting Wake Forest.
FIU (Central Florida), WKU (Vanderbilt) and Wake (Elon) all won their season openers Thursday.
IU’s offensive line is considered one of the Top 25 units in the nation. The defensive front seven is considered IU’s best in Wilson’s five seasons.
The path to six: Start with home victories against Southern Illinois and FIU.
Split (at least) the next two against Western Kentucky and Wake Forest.
Three Big Ten games will be filed as out of reach: Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State.
That will require winning three of these five: Rutgers, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland and Purdue.
The Hoosiers have won three of their last eight against Iowa. They’ve won two straight against Purdue. Word around the Big Ten is Maryland is the least talented team in the league. Rutgers allowed 30.2 points per game last season. Michigan is rebuilding with Jim Harbaugh.
Some people will see three victories in that group. Most will only see two. Or one. Please vote in our poll.
On to the predictions.
ERIC CRAWFORD: 6-6. (Quarterback Nate) Sudfeld passes Hoosiers back into the post-season.
TOM LANE: 6-6. Hoosiers keep Nate Sudfeld healthy and ride user-friendly schedule to bowl bid.
JOHN LEWIS: 6-6. The Hoosiers have a great chance to get off to a solid start and be on the bowl bubble in December.
MIKE LACETT: 4-8. This is going to be a long season for Indiana. They’ll miss Tevin Coleman.
RICK BOZICH: 5-7. I picked six wins for the Hoosiers last season. Didn’t happen. I picked six wins in 2013. Didn’t happen. Won’t get burned again.
WDRB SPORTS CONSENSUS: 5-7.
PHIL STEELE COLLEGE FOOTBALL YEARBOOK: Hoosiers are ranked 72nd in Steele’s national power poll, one spot behind Western Michigan. They’re picked sixth in the Big Ten East. Steele predicts Indiana will play Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
ATHLON SPORTS: Hoosiers ranked 60th nationally, behind Memphis. IU was projected to play Miami Hurricanes in the Austin Bowl. Hoosiers picked sixth, ahead of Rutgers in Big Ten East. But Austin decided to postpone its bowl until the 2016 season.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Hoosiers predicted to finish last in the Big Ten East.
ESPN MAGAZINE: Hoosiers projected as 74th best team in the nation in ESPN power poll. Hoosiers picked sixth in Big Ten East with 5-7 record.
SPORTING NEWS: Hoosiers predicted to finish last in the Big Ten East.
SAGARIN RATINGS: Indiana ranked 81st in pre-season computer formula. IU favored by 11.09 over Southern Illinois Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
AGAINST THE NUMBER: Chris Andrews predicts 5.6 victories for the Hoosiers, ranking IU 66th in the nation. Puts IU’s win probability at 50 percent or better against Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Maryland and Purdue.
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