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MnB B1G Preview: Is this the year for the Indiana Hoosiers?

Indiana looks to break free of mediocrity and make it to a bowl game for the first time since 2007.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

I know, reading about Indiana football isn't the most exciting thing in the world--but imagine having to write about Indiana football! I've fallen asleep at least five times while putting this thing together.

8/30 Indiana State

For the third straight year Indiana will start the season at home against the Sycamores. The Hoosiers got a narrow seven-point victory back in 2012, but then walked away with a 38-point win last year. Indiana State was able to put together three seasons of six and seven wins from 2010 to 2012, but those were bookended by one-win seasons.

9/13 @ Bowling Green

The Falcons will face Big Ten teams in consecutive weekends, starting here with Indiana and then followed by Wisconsin. Even with the success that Dave Clawson brought to BGSU from 2009 to 2013, his team was still beaten 42-10 last year. Clawson has moved on to Wake Forest, while Eastern Illinois' Dino Babers has taken the helm at Bowling Green. Things may be looking up for the Falcons, but Indiana is still making improvements of their own that should call for another victory.

9/20 @ Missouri

Believe it or not, Indiana has a winning record against Missouri with a 6-3-2 overall tally against the Tigers. However, those six wins came in the '80s and '90s; last year's match-up was a 17-point win for Missouri on their way to a 12-2 season. James Franklin has moved on to the Detroit Lions (yay!), so the Tigers will have to rely on Maty Mauk. There are worse people to take the reigns; Mauk completed only 51% of his passes in thirteen games, but each completion went for just under sixteen yards; that should continue against Indiana's "defense".

9/27 Maryland

The Terrapins finished the 2013 season allowing an average of 225.1 passing yards per game, while Indiana averaged 306.7 yards through the air. I have already said that Maryland should beat the Hoosiers, and I stand by that assertion. The game may actually turn out to be an entertaining shootout and Big Ten debut for the Terrapins.

10/4 North Texas

The Mean Green mustered only eight wins between 2007 and 2010, but Dan McCarney took over in 2011 and won nine games in his first two seasons. He followed that up with nine wins in 2013 alone. North Texas is a team on the rise, and Indiana would be foolish to look past them. Yet, with North Texas also starting a new quarterback in either Dajon Williams or Andrew McNulty, who combined for ten completions and 91 yards, there are some questions going into 2014.

10/11 @ Iowa

This year's incarnation of the Hawkeyes have a great opportunity to challenge Wisconsin in the West. With the Hoosiers giving up 237 yards per game on the ground last year, the door will be wide open for Jordan Canzeri, Mark Weisman, and Damon Bullock to gain close to that on October 11.

10/18 Michigan State

It's usually quite exciting when the top-ranked offense and top-ranked defense get together, and last year was no exception. The Spartans had two turnovers and 100 yards in penalties in last year's game, and still came away with a 14-point win. As I mention above, Indiana's rush defense leaves something to be desired, and it was that defense that allowed Jeremy Langford to rush for four touchdowns. With State's D maintaining its elite status, and Jeremy Langford returning, we can expect another exciting match-up.

11/1 @ Michigan

Does anything more need to be said? Didn't think so. But, I like to talk...this series has usually been pretty frickin' lopsided, with Michigan scoring on average one million points per game, while Indiana scored an average of 13 (it's a fact). However, since 2009 things have gotten much closer, or at least more competitive--2009: 36-33; 2010: 42-35; 2013: 63-47. I know there's a Rutgers fan who doesn't like when I look at history, but even with the competitive nature of this series, it's difficult to see Indiana winning this one.

11/8 Penn State

0-16. That was Indiana's record against Penn State prior to meeting up with the Lions last year. After holding a slim 21-17 lead in the third quarter, the Hoosiers opened a can and scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and won the game 44-24. Allen Robinson has mercifully left college, but that also spells trouble for Christian Hackenberg. Not only is Robinson gone, but 1,432 yards will be gone, too. The Lions' next leading pass-catcher is TE Jesse James, who tallied just 333 yards. With the offensive questions coming up for PSU, it's possible that Indiana could take a second game away from the Lions.

11/15 @ Rutgers

Please click on the link in the Michigan section to read my overall assessment of how I feel Rutgers will do this season. Taking from the commenter in the above link, "Teams with a solid pass game...will likely give Rutgers defense fits." Indiana averaged 306.7 passing yards per game, while the Rutgers defense allowed 312 ypg. I predicted that this year's match-up will be a toss-up, and I'm not backing down from that. Rutgers has talent, and if they can continue last year's trend of holding teams to only 100 yards on the ground, the Scarlet Knights could get their first conference win right here.

11/22 @ Ohio State

Braxton Miller is the heart and soul of this team, but don't forget about Bri'onte Dunn coming out of the backfield. What more can be said about a team that has had so much success under Urban Meyer? The Buckeyes are probably going to make another run at a national title, and  that pretty much speaks for itself. You can't be in that discussion with a loss to Indiana.

11/29 Purdue

Since beating the Boilermakers in 1996, Indiana lost four straight, then followed that up with a win and a five-game losing streak. Interestingly, Indiana has won more than two consecutive games against Purdue only five times in this rivalry. Each time the Hoosiers win, they follow it up with at least two consecutive losses. Since Indiana won last year, should we expect a loss this year? No. This is a different Purdue team, but the history is intriguing.

The Outlook

  • Sure Things -- Indiana State, Bowling Green, North Texas, Purdue
  • Probable -- Rutgers
  • Toss-ups -- Penn State, Maryland
  • Thanks for playing -- Missouri, Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State

There's now way the Hoosiers win fewer than six games in 2014. A 2-win road slate is the probable outcome, but the home schedule sets them up for four to five wins, so let's say somewhere between six and eight wins (they could definitely catch someone off guard). No matter what, this is the year that Indiana will reach a bowl game for the first time since their 2007 Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Every year is the year for Indiana, but by the time the end of the season rolls around it becomes "next year is the year". They're kinda like a dog chasing its tail...but they'll get that damn thing this time. Right?