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B1G 2016 // Indiana Hoosiers Cocktail/Tailgate Party Preview

If we were going strictly by record, this would be Rutgers Week. However, owing to other important circumstances (good luck with finals, Zuzu!), you instead get Indiana Week. And what would Indiana football be without tailgating?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2015 was a season of some success and bitter disappointment for Indiana. So maybe, just maybe, some of you will consider a trip to Bloomington to see your school take on the Hoosiers in 2016. If you do, you'll not want to go into the tailgate uninformed about how IU fared last season (despite the fact that many of the people you'll see under the age of 24 will be such). For those circumstances when you find someone who wants to talk about football, this is your baseline guide.

About Last Season

The Good News:

For the first time since the 2007 Insight Bowl, Indiana played a 13th game, making it to the Pinstripe Bowl. They got there by (among other things) retaining the Bucket for a third straight season, a feat the Hoosiers haven't accomplished since the mid 1940s. The offense continued to set a blistering pace on the field, and racked up numerous records for senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Jordan Howard stepped right into the offense, taking over where Tevin Coleman left off the year before, and the UAB transfer looked as if he'd been playing in the Hoosier offense forever. And the defense continued to gain experience.

The Bad News:

Though Indiana got 6 wins, they very easily could have won a couple more. Missed opportunities against Ohio State, Michigan, Duke (in the Pinstripe Bowl), and the State University of New Jersey left plenty of heartache, and continued to leave Indiana on the wrong side of history. Sudfeld, Howard, and Jason Spriggs took their talents to the NFL, leaving the Hoosiers with some important spots to fill on offense. The defense continues to be an issue, and yet another new coordinator has been brought in to try and stem the woes associated with that side of the ball (more on him tomorrow). Basically, Indiana is right back where it always seems to be: on the edge of bowl eligibility, and facing an uphill battle to get there.

The Offense

The Good News:

Devine Redding, having been the change of pace back for the last two years behind Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, seems poised to step in and take the majority of the workload this year. Dan Feeney decided to pass on the NFL for one more season, giving Indiana some veteran leadership along the offensive line. And in recruiting, Kevin Wilson went out and found a JUCO quarterback who has been described as very similar to Nate Sudfeld, which sounds like a good mold to be in for the style of offense Indiana runs.

The Bad News:

A lot of talented players left the program, whether by NFL draft, graduation, or injury. While there are plenty of players ready to try and replace them, there's still going to be a period of adjustment, and how well those adjustments are made will tell a lot about whether Indiana will return to the postseason this year.

The Defense

The Good News:

Plenty of people are back. TJ Simmons, Tegray Scales, Rashard Fant, Marcus Oliver, and Ralph Green III anchor the defense, and those are some of the main contributors you want to keep an eye on this year.

The Bad News:

Darius Latham decided that the NFL was too tempting, and instead of another strong presence on the defensive line, he's trying to make a roster somewhere as an undrafted free agent. Oh yeah, and the defense is somehow still really young, and adjusting to yet another new scheme, and they weren't the greatest to begin with. Here's hoping something got better.

The Special Teams

The Good News:

Griffin Oakes is back to continue his chase for every IU kicking record. There also seems to be plenty of players capable of returning kicks, including Mitchell Paige, which is a good thing.

The Bad News:

Indiana gets to break in a new punter AND a new long snapper this season, which at best will inspire mixed feelings, and at worst might make 4th downs a terrifying challenge for much of the year.

On The Schedule

Sep. 1 at Florida International Panthers
Sep. 10 Ball State Cardinals
Sep. 17 BYE
Sep. 24 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Oct. 1 Michigan State Spartans
Oct. 8 at Ohio State Buckeyes
Oct. 15 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Oct. 22 at Northwestern Wildcats
Oct. 29 Maryland Terrapins
Nov. 5 at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Nov. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions
Nov. 19 at Michigan Wolverines
Nov. 26 Purdue Boilermakers (Old Oaken Bucket game)

The Good News:

The home slate definitely offers a winnable set of games. There's also a few chances to pick up a win on the road.

The Bad News:

We're still in the Big Ten East, which means we get to play most of the tough teams in conference. Also, a week 3 bye? Who makes these schedules, anyway?

If you're talking to an Indiana fan

Do Mention:

Nate Sudfeld, Tevin Coleman, Jordan Howard, how Kevin Wilson is putting IU on the map, the present location of the Old Oaken Bucket, how great playing in the postseason is, Indiana's record in football against Nebraska (9-7-3, for reference), basketball

Don't Mention:

The ending of IU-Duke from last year (applies to both basketball and football), the Indiana defense, the historical record of the Old Oaken Bucket rivalry, how great playing in the postseason more than once every 8+ years is, Indiana's record in football against the State University of New Jersey (NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS), why there are more students tailgating than attending games