The sporting tradition of the Indiana Hoosiers is a proud one with 20 conference championships, 5 national titles, 7th all-time in AP poll appearances, etc. Unfortunately, all those accolades occur in basketball. The Hoosiers have considerably less superlatives in football, last winning the conference in 1967 (side note: apparently the Hoosiers once won the Big Ten!) The tire fire that was the 2011 season is well-known to us here at the OTE, but was it as bad as it seemed? (SPOILER: yes, it was that bad) What can we expect from Kevin Wilson in 2012? And so on and so forth. JUMP.
The History and
Leaders Legends of Hoosiers Past (Indiana Performance 2005-2011)
Figure 1: Indiana Yearly FBS Rank (2005-2011)
Figure 2: Indiana Yearly Adj Off, Def Rank (2005-2011)
Figure 3: Indiana Yearly Win % and Luck (2005-2011)
So, Indiana's recent history hasn't been anything to write home about. Shocking, I know! However, there have been some bright spots. Indiana's 2007 season in particular was a significant improvement over their normal expected performance. Their offense was pretty decent, ranking 36th overall. Unfortunately, that was followed up by a severe regression in 2008. [checking internets] It appears that James Hardy was the key to their offense then.
Probably one of the more distressing things about Indiana is that their seasons haven't been ones where they caught a couple of bad bounces of the ball. No, if anything they've done better than their expected record (see: Luck always > 0). So... good coaching then? (it's my belief that Bill Lynch got more hate than he deserved) I guess it's hard to say that when the improved product isn't that great anyway.
The Hoosiers have been regressing in recent years, in both offense and defense*, and last year was one of their worst. Hopefully, Kevin Wilson knows what he's doing and can offer a (vastly) improved product from 2011.
*A tangent: Indiana can be seen to clearly "excel" more on the offensive end. It's my belief that the generally worse teams will show this same trend, as it's more difficult to hide talent deficiencies on defense. I've not looked into this, but hopefully this trend will emerge through these previews.
About That... What Has Indiana Done Lately? (Indiana 2011 Season)
(no bowl game)
As mentioned before: tire fire. And not the fun kind with s'mores and hot dogs that only taste vaguely of burning rubber. In an effort to be more positive, let's break this down into positives (yay!) and negatives (boo!):
NEGATIVE: Indiana lost 59-7 to Wisconsin, 59-3 to Michigan State, and had three other losses where they gave up over 40 pts to the other team.
POSITIVE: Hey, Wisconsin and Michigan State were the class of the Big Ten! That's not so bad when you put it in that light, right? (we'll just ignore those other losses)
NEGATIVE: An Adj Def of 1.458 (113th rk) is atrocious. We don't really need to say more than that.
POSITIVE: Yes, but a 0.861 Adj Off (81st rk) isn't terrible (though, it may not be good either). And with young playmakers and a year under Kevin Wilson's belt, it can only improve!
NEGATIVE: Maybe they'll improve, but they've got a lot to improve on. 106th in Adj Marg? Indiana only won one game, and that's all they were supposed to win. That's not good, sir.
POSITIVE: Yes, but they played a comparatively tough schedule (46th in Opp Rat). Just cut them some slack, okay?
So... Nowhere to Go But Up, Right? (Indiana 2012 Preview and Projections)
Avg Opp Rank: 57.5 (Avg Non-Con: 99.5, Avg Conf: 36.5)
Final Record: 2-10 (0-8), Avg MOV: -12.1 pts, Bowl Prediction: [no bowl]
Hey, a 100% improvement in winning percentage. Huzzah!
Yes, there really is no place to go but up. Hopefully, the Hoosiers can get there, but they may have a rough time getting there. From Week 6 (Michigan State) onward, they don't have a single game predicted to be within single digits. I'm halfway tempted to give the Purdue game more of a toss-up (simply for the rivalry factor), but honestly: I think that Purdue is at a much different place than Indiana is right now.
The Ball State game, however: that's a true toss-up. What's more, it's at home! Pull through with that game, and Indiana should be starting out 3-0, with a chance of beating Northwestern in Week 5 (I think that replacing Dan Persa will cause at least some regression, though Kain Colter has gotten some experience in the past).
The unfortunate issue is that Indiana's best shots at upsets after Ball State (Northwestern, Navy, and Purdue), all occur on the road, which significantly reduces their chances. I can really only see one of those games going Indiana's way. Sorry if I'm shortchanging you Hoosiers, but all of those are predicted to be double-digit losses. I'm doing the best I can.
Best case for Indiana: I see them "upsetting" Ball State (really, please do not lose to Ball State again. They ranked 89th in 2011, for [DIETY'S] sake), and stealing one against the N,jN,P triumvirate mentioned above in additional to the two (basically) FCS games on their schedule for a 4-8 (1-7*) record.
Worst case for Indiana: Is where they lose all the games they are predicted, and choke against Massachusetts to give them another 1-11 (0-8) season. I really wanted to give Indiana a leap of faith here, but the Massachusetts game is on the road, and I also remember how they took a bad Michigan defense to the brink a couple years back.
I'm not going to lie: Indiana will probably suck in 2012. I believe that Kevin Wilson can be the guy to improve their football team, but that's just blind faith at the moment. Indiana's young, and they do have some recent history of (relative) success, however brief. So the optimism's there! It's just up to them to show that they have it. (Also, fix the defense. Yeesh)
Glossary and Explanation of Terms!
For the purposes of this section, I will refer to Average State University (ASU). ASU scores 25 pts/game on offense, gives up 25 pts/game on defense, and has an Adj Off, Def of 1.00 and 1.00, respectively.
Adj Off - a measure of a team's scoring offense, adjusted for schedule. A team with an Adj Off of 2.00 would be expected to score 50 pts on ASU. A team with an Adj Off of 0.50 would be expected to score 12-13 pts on ASU.
Adj Def - a measure of a team's scoring defense, adjusted for schedule. A team with an Adj Def of 2.00 would be expected to give up 50 pts to ASU. A team with and Adj Def of 0.50 would be expected to hold ASU to 12-13 pts.
Adj Eff - a measure of a team's overall strength, AdjEff = AdjOff/(AdjOff + AdjDef). A perfect rating would be 1.00, a perfectly bad rating would be 0.00, a perfectly average rating would be 0.50. This rating tends to reward teams with good defenses more than good offenses.
Adj Marg - a measure of a team's overall strength, AdjMarg = AdjOff - AdjDef. A good rating would be > 0.00, a bad rating would be < 0.00, a perfectly average rating would be 0.00. This rating tends to reward teams with good offenses more than good defenses.
(NOTE: While I list both Adj Eff and Adj Marg as measures of overall team strength, the "official" rankings are Adj Marg, as I find it tends (usually) to be a slightly better predictor of game results than Adj Eff.)
Opp Rat - the average rating of a team's opponents, as determined by Adj Marg. A relatively difficult schedule will have OppRat > 0.00, a relatively easy schedule will have OppRat < 0.00, a perfectly average schedule will have OppRat = 0.00.
Luck - the difference between a team's expected winning percentage (based on schedule and expected scores) and their actual winning percentage. Luck > 0.00 indicates that a team won more games than they were expected, Luck < 0.00 means that a team won less games than ther were expected.
Projected Scores - these are based on a team's Adj Off, Def and their opponent's Adj Off, Def. I won't bore you with the math or reasoning, but suffice to say that expected scores align uniformly with the Adj Marg rankings. The expected score differential is proportional to the Adj Marg differential.