Who, When, Where: Paying the Panthers back for a 2015 visit to Bloomington, the Hoosiers travel to Miami, Florida to face Florida International at Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30pm tonight on ESPNU, where Mike Couzens and Rene Ingoglia have the call. FIU finished 5-7 last year, which should give some hope to a Hoosier squad that has had some struggles on the road in the past. In the only prior matchup between the teams last year, the Hoosiers came away 36-22 victors, after a late pick six by Jameel Cook, Jr. sealed the win for Indiana.
Next Men Up: The big thing to watch in Indiana’s first game this year is how well they replace last year’s offensive power. Gone is Nate Sudfeld, gone is Jordan Howard; in their place we have JUCO transfer Richard Lagow and longtime backup/second option Devine Redding. Also keep an eye on the offensive line, which will try to replace both Jason Spriggs and Colin Rahrig from last year’s well-oiled machine.
Interesting tidbits about FIU Football: This is their first of two back to back Big Ten matchups; Maryland goes to Miami next week. Former Illinois head coach Ron Turner is in year four with the program, and has compiled a 10-26 record so far. Finally, FIU returns the same number of starters in 2016 as Indiana, 17.
How Would This Game Go if it Was Basketball?: FIU basketball went 13-19 last year, with some very close losses (including a 2OT heartbreaker against Northern Illinois), but with no particularly spectacular wins. If this game was played on the hardwood, it wouldn’t at all be surprising for Indiana to run away with this one.
Prediction: It’s the season opener, it’s in Miami, it’s under the lights, and while the rain will likely have stopped by game time, it will be very warm and very humid. Which is to say, just about anything could happen, and with IU involved, #TeamChaos is always in play. I have faith that the Hoosiers will hang on in spite of all of those things, and escape Miami as 42-24 winners.
Next Week: The Ball State Cardinals come to Bloomington for Indiana’s home opener.