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2016 Preview and Predictions: Indiana Hoosiers Football

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Indiana and the Bucket

2015 was another step forward for the Hoosiers. While the season didn't end exactly as most IU fans would have liked, a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2007 is exactly what the team needed to keep its forward momentum going. While there will be some more challenges this year, as ever, if Indiana can just keep doing good things and put them together, they might be able to take the next step in actually being competitive in the Big Ten East.

I. Case History/Opening Statement

A. Case History

In 5 years at the helm, Kevin Wilson has led the Hoosiers to a 20-41 record. Setting aside the 2014 season, in which starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld went down for the year just shy of the halfway mark, Indiana has gotten progressively better in the win column. Even as the defense still struggles to show up some of the time, the offense has dragged them into a lot of close games against some of the top teams in the conference. That said, the next time Indiana actually closes out a game against a good Big Ten opponent will be the first, and that has really been the Hoosiers' Achilles heel. 6-7 is an acceptable record, but there were a couple of games Indiana just left on the table in 2015.

B. Opening Statement

Ladies and gentlemen of the Off Tackle Empire, I come before you today as I have in seasons prior with a singular focus, a singular hope. I come before you attempting to convince you that Indiana will be playing football in the postseason. Even under the best of circumstances, this task is often arduous, and this year it becomes moreso, due in large part to the decision of the Big Ten Conference to move to the 9 game conference schedule. Whereas before Indiana could schedule 4 reasonably winnable games and hope to take 2 from conference play, now the Hoosiers must find 3 wins every year in the conference, a task that is complicated greatly by playing in the same division as Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan, as well as the perennial thorns in our side from Pennsylvania and the State University of New Jersey.

And yet, even with many of these things stacked against us, there is a spot of hope: we made the postseason in 2015. There is positive momentum surrounding the program, and talented people are coming to Indiana for football. Though we lost Nate Sudfeld to graduation, JUCO transfer Richard Lagow seems to fit a similar mold, and Zander Diamont continues to improve, so much so that Coach Wilson has yet to officially name Sudfeld’s replacement. Jordan Howard made the jump to the NFL, but Devine Redding is set to step into the starting role, having backed up Howard and Tevin Coleman the last two years. Along the offensive line, Jason Spriggs has also graduated to playing on Sundays, but the line is where Indiana has some depth in addition to returning starter and 2015 First Team All-American Dan Feeney.

The defense continues to be a giant question mark, but new coordinator Tom Allen comes off a successful 2015 season at South Florida, and maybe playing a somewhat unorthodox defense is what Indiana needs to finally compete in the Big Ten. Lining up in the 4-2-5 this year will be two linebackers every team will need to watch out for, Tegray Scales and Marcus Oliver. Those two are Indiana’s biggest playmakers on defense, and with a fairly young defensive line, their play may be the bellwether on how the team performs in 2016.

Special teams will continue to be anchored by 2015 Baaken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year Griffin Oakes, but the Hoosiers will be breaking in a new punter following the graduation of Erich Toth. As we all know, in the Big Ten, punting is winning, so if the Hoosiers are going to compete, they’ll need to get whoever is taking over up to speed quickly.

II. Discovery

A. What We’ve Written About Indiana in the Offseason

The Indiana Cocktail Party Preview

New Man on Campus: Defensive Coordinator Tom Allen

Indiana Traditions

There’s More to Indiana Athletics Than Just Basketball

B. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture

In 2016, old is new again. And while the cast of characters has changed, the premise remains the same. It’s true for Ghostbusters, and it’s true for Indiana football.

C. Schedule of Events

September 1st: IU @ Florida International University

September 10th: Ball State @ IU

September 24th: Wake Forest @ IU

October 1st: Michigan State @ IU (Old Brass Spittoon)

October 8th: IU @ Ohio State

October 15th: Nebraska @ IU (Homecoming)

October 22nd: IU @ Northwestern

October 29th: Maryland @ IU

November 5th: IU @ State University of New Jersey

November 12th: Penn State @ IU

November 19th: IU @ Michigan

November 26th: Purdue @ IU (Old Oaken Bucket)

III. Emotional Plea

Look, I’m gonna level with you. The last time Indiana went bowling in back to back seasons was 1990 and 1991. If we can’t somehow pull that same feat off this season, there’s a non-zero chance it will never happen again. Besides, if we get to 6 wins, it probably means we beat some team in this conference who’s really annoying, and you can’t not want that to happen, right? Right?

IV. The Verdict

Writer Record
Aaron Yorke 7-5 (5-4)
Andrew Kraszewski 6-6 (3-6)
StewMonkey13 7-5 (4-5)
WhiteSpeedReceiver 7-5(4-5)
Brian Gillis 6-6 (3-6)
MNWildcat 6-6 (3-6)
Creighton M 6-6 (3-6)
DJ Carver 6-6 (3-6)
MrAlnamiasIV 7-5 (4-5)
Candystripes for Breakfast 7-5 (4-5)
Graham Filler 7-5 (4-5)
babaoreally 5-7 (3-6)
Jesse Collins 5-7 (3-6)
Zuzu 6-6 (3-6)
87Townie 6-6 (3-6)
Thumpasaurus 7-5 (4-5)
Thomas Speth 6-6 (3-6)
OTE Staff Average: 6.2-5.8 (3.3-5.7)

As you can see, the vast majority of our staff believes that IU can pull off the back to back. Do you agree?