How many different ways can you say the same thing? How many different times can you live through similar, yet always just slightly different years, seeing basically the same actions leading to basically the same results? How long can you prolong the inevitable? At what point do you start to suspect that the law of averages is an absolute falsehood, a principle that should really even out the recorded history of ineptitude, and yet can’t even account for how you somehow haven’t managed to win a coin flip (which is admittedly weighted against you in the first place) for three decades and counting?
The calendar says today is May 27th. But as it happens, today is also Groundhog Day. Just like every other day.
Welcome to Indiana Week. Buckle up.
Where We’ve Been: the 2018 edition
Another year, another 5-7 record. There’s a reason Vegas sets Indiana’s over/under at 5.5 wins every year: because you can never be sure which side of the number they’ll fall on, but they’ll hit it by exactly half a game either way. It’s the perfect sucker bet.
This particular 5-7 season opened exactly the way you would expect: a trio of winnable looking non-conference games were in fact won. The FIU win was a bit closer than you’d prefer, but first game kinks being worked out and going to Florida to open the year accounts for it only being a 10 point win. (Again, this is Indiana football: [almost] any win is a good win.) Virginia was a game that Indiana was probably a bit lucky to hold onto, given that the weather conditions ranged from mediocre to downright miserable basically the whole way, and also the fact that UVa ended the year 8-5. And Ball State was the kind of win you want to end your non-con schedule with, a good ol’ fashioned 4 touchdown beatdown.
Big Ten play opened with a loss against Michigan State that can realistically be summed up in this single stat: 32 rushing attempts for 29 yards. Then came a win against Rutgers, which can also be summed up in a single stat: the Hoosiers scored on each of their first four possessions, while Rutgers scored 7 points before the 4th quarter.
But hold on, it’s time for some classic Indiana football action in October. Blowout loss in a game that Indiana led in the second quarter and was firmly competitive until the end of the third? #ClassicIndiana. Getting utterly demolished in a game everyone thought you might take down to the wire? #ClassicIndiana. Having yet another chance to pull off the big, potentially program-changing upset only to, you know, not? #ClassicIndiana. And to top it all off, storming back from three touchdowns down to tie, only to give up the losing score two possessions later on a single deep pass? #ClassicIndiana.
A win against Maryland set up one last dash of false hope that Indiana might get back to the postseason, but Michigan is contractually obligated to always beat Indiana  and more often than not, if Indiana absolutely needs to beat Purdue to extend their season, and Purdue is not suffering through an utterly terrible year, it won’t happen. And it didn’t.
A Look Ahead to 2019
The saddest thing about this schedule is that this is probably one of the more favorable home/away matchups IU is likely to have as long as the division alignments remain as they are. And even then, there’s a slim but nonzero chance that the Hoosiers just don’t win a home game in conference play this season. But enough about the depressing stuff, let’s look at some of the positives.
On the offensive side of the ball, most of last year’s playmakers return, such as Stevie Scott, Whop Philyor, and fifth year senior Nick Westbrook, and yet again a transfer QB has come in to compete for Peyton Ramsey’s job. I’ll talk more about new OC Kalen DeBoer tomorrow, but many people are excited to see what he can bring to Bloomington after brief stints as OC at Fresno State and Eastern Michigan.
Defense brings a lot of upheaval along the front, with senior Allen Stallings IV and fifth year senior Gavin Everett leading an otherwise fairly young defensive line. On the flip side, the defensive backs boast plenty of experience, including Marcelino Ball, A’Shon Riggins, and Khalil Bryant causing opposing receivers fits. Kane Wommack will take over the bulk of the defensive playcalling from head coach Tom Allen this season, and with luck the defense will continue to get better during his tenure.
Special teams continues to be anchored by fifth year seniors Logan Justus and Haydon Whitehead, but the return specialists will have big shoes to fill from the graduated J-Shun Harris, co-owner of IU’s career punt return touchdowns record.
When Talking to an Indiana Fan
Do Mention: how wonderful Bloomington is, how good the basketball team looks this year, how you’ll (probably) be rooting for Indiana when they’re not playing your team.
Don’t Mention: Anything that is likely to end up on this list of heartbreaking Indiana losses since 2014, a list that continues to grow yearly and shows no signs of seeing an end any time soon, how impressive it is that Jeff Brohm was able to turn Purdue around so quickly, how utterly terrified you are that your team is facing the Hoosiers if your team has no losses to them in the last 20+ years.
B1G 2019: Indiana Week
Monday: Cocktail Party Preview (you are here)
Tuesday: Introducing New OC Kalen DeBoer
Thursday: Non-Revenue Appreciation Day (a baseball/soccer post)
Friday: Somebody tries to insult Indiana football more than it insults itself (aka Hate Friday)