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B1G 2021, Indiana Potluck #3: Toasting Indiana

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Grab a frosty mug of Southern Indiana’s finest and let’s toast the most interesting schedule in the Big Ten.

Wake Forest v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Well, we’ve reached the end in more ways than one.

It’s the end of Indiana Week! Time to grab a frosty mug, toast Candystripes and the Indiana Hoosiers, and look at our Midwestern peccadilloes and football scheduling...decisions.

The Food: Good, Wholesome Southern Indiana Fun

There’s going to be a big hole to fill in the Indianablogosphere, with our good friend Candystripes for Breakfast moving on from his regular Hoosier writing duties. Thanks for everything, you Vanilla Coke-guzzling loon.

In his honor, let’s look outside the usual “beer and booze” Potluck for something a little more wholesome from the Hoosier State—and to do so, let’s stick closer to Bloomington.

Founded in Chicago in 1937, Dad’s Root Beer has since relocated to Jasper, Indiana, still distributing its root beer in a range of varieties:

The Dad’s Root Beer Company was an innovator, being the first to use Atlanta Paper Company’s six-pack format.

Dad’s Root Beer was also the first soda to appear in a half-gallon size, called the ‘Papa’.

The ‘Mama’, a quart bottle, and the ‘Junior’, in 7, 10, and 12-ounce bottles, rounded out the Dad’s Root Beer family.

While it’s a relocation—perhaps in honor of Tom Allen working the transfer market—Dad’s nonetheless fits that image of a good, wholesome Midwestern pop offering. And it comes from Indiana!

So tell us, writers:

  1. Dad’s Root Beer. Have you? What’s your preferred use for a good root beer?
  2. What’s your hyper-local or hyper-regional pop go-to?
  3. And, of course: pop or soda?

RockyMtnBlue: 1) I’ve had Dad’s Root Beer. It’s delicious. Not quite the fresh A&W root beer from 20 years ago, but very tasty. I’m a simple man. Root Beer in a big frosted mug over ice. Don’t pollute it with ice cream.

2) Faygo!!! I don’t know whether it’s hyper-regional or not, but I’ve lived in Texas, Colorado, and Washington the last 24 years and there’s no Faygo (the heathen bastards). Best flavor is Rock N Rye. If you don’t have access to Faygo you can make your own by mixing your favorite red pop with your favorite cream soda in equal amounts.

3) Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s pop and I will brook no argument on this matter.

Beez: (1) Dad’s is a perfectly delicious root beer option. Most root beer is good, though, so maybe this isn’t such a surprise. I prefer to use good root beer as a mouth filler when I’m thirsty.
(2) Cheerwine! I don’t really know how to describe it other than “cherry flavored Dr. Pepper, kinda,” but it’s good. Plus it’s a deeply red color, which is how you know it’s good for you.
(3) Soda. Pop is just a dumb sounding word. Nobody should be saying it.

MNW: The local grocery store a half-mile from my house actually sells the Dad size bottle for like 99 cents or something. It’s pretty great for Root Beer Float Night in the MNW household. (RMB is wrong, by the way—root beer floats are an optimal dessert and use of root beer, though people who insist the ice cream should be allowed to melt are Bad.)

MAN do I love and miss Cheerwine. Every time I’m in ATL, I find an excuse or five to visit a Cook Out and just gorge myself.

Locally, you’ll do no better than New Ulm, Minnesota, where in addition to the best damn German brewery—Schell’s, the third-oldest family-owned in the U.S.—you can find 1919 Root Beer and the Buddy’s line of pop. No visit to the grandparents in Sleepy Eye was complete without a trunk full of six-packs of Buddy’s on the way home.

And for as right as Beez was about Cheerwine, he’s 100% wrong. It’s pop.

Stew:

  1. Dad’s is totally acceptable. However, as I’m not a true root beer connoisseur, I’d probably treat it like most and use it in a float.
  2. Locally, the Millstream brewing company here makes a pretty good root beer. However, I’m going to throw a shout out to Spring Grove out of Spring Grove, MN which is pretty close to where I went to college. It’s good stuff.
  3. It’s pop. That’s it. We’re the Big Ten, goddammit, and it’s pop.

HWAHSQB: Dad’s is okay. Most root beer is pretty good I guess although I don’t drink much soda. I prefer to eat my calories. Growing up near St Louis, my absolute favorite soda as a youngster was the locally produced I.B.C. Root Beer. I don’t even know if it is made any more, but my Grandma always had warm cookies and a cold I.B.C. for me when we came to visit and that was heavenly. And it’s soda. I’ve lived in Iowa nearly a decade and I still think it sounds stupid when people say “Paawwp” Maybe we should add Missouri and Kansas to conference to tip the balance towards soda states in the B1G?

Candystripes: Dad’s is fine root beer. Not my first pick, but if it’s the only option, I’m not turning it down. Most root beers are pretty drinkable, and while a float every now and then is nice, I’m mostly just here for root beer on the rocks.

I’m not sure how hyper-regional it is, but after sampling their offerings at GenCon a couple years back, I’m a big fan of Wild Bill’s Craft Beverage Company. A very good grape soda is my favorite offering of theirs, but you mostly can’t go wrong with any of their flavors. (Maybe give the butterscotch a miss, though; it didn’t really impress me the one time I tried it.)

Call it whatever you want to call it; just don’t call everything Coke. I understand why Georgians would, but everyone else doesn’t get a pass on it. Pepsi is not a Coke, it’s Pepsi, and it’s good enough, gosh dangit.

Poll

It’s time:

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Pop
    (89 votes)
  • 47%
    Soda
    (91 votes)
  • 3%
    Soda pop
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    I am from the South
    (6 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now

The Football: Hyper-Regional, and Hyper...Interesting?

Much like Big Red pop in the 1970s, you won’t find Indiana outside the Ohio River Valley in the non-conference schedule. And it’s...well, it’s sure a schedule:

We might know by the end of September whether the air’s out of the Indiana balloon, because my WORD are the Hoosiers going to be tested in the first month. Outside what should be a home romp over barely-FCS-level Idaho, those are three tricky games that include a pair on the road and a pair of Top 15 matchups with Iowa and Cincinnati.

Indiana could be, conceivably, in a spot where they need to take 4 out of their last 5 to go bowling...or to secure a Top 10 finish and a New Year’s Six bowl.

Lot of fun here, writers!

  1. Tell us the last time your team entered a season with high aspirations and expectations. How did things go?
  2. Do you think there’s any reason a Big Ten team should go on the road to a G5 program? Which would you tolerate with your program?
  3. How does Indiana finish in 2021? Show your work.

RockyMtnBlue: 1a) Who’s aspirations and expectations. Michigan always enters the season with some damned fool thinking we’ll win the conference. Finishing a season strong tends to lead to higher (and frequently unreasonable) expectations that’s just not how we roll in Ann Arbor.

1b) Last time for me was 2016, coming off utter destruction of a disinterested Florida team in the Citrus Bowl. And it was a beautiful season through the first week of November. Michigan was 9-0 by an average score of 48-11. And then Kinnick-At-Night happened. And then a couple weeks later The Spot happened. We lost the Orange Bowl, too, but it was a bowl so of course we did. Overall, though 2016 wasn’t bad. Michigan was good, MSU was surprisingly terrible, Notre Dame was even worse than MSU, and OSU didn’t win the Big10.

2) We all like to think we’re big enough pulls to never have to play a home-and-home with a G5 school, but I’d rather see a road game against Western Kentucky than any game against Idaho (except for my school, of course). Besides, that Hilltoppers logo is just magnificent.

3) I’m drinking the Indiana Kool-Aid. Still, that is a nasty schedule. I’ve got Indiana going 8-4 (5-4), third place in the east. I was told to show my work, so...

2021 Indiana Win Probabilities

Where Who What Why
Where Who What Why
@ Iowa 40 Kinnick is an awful place where dreams and souls go to die.
vs Idaho 100 I know nothing about Idaho. I refuse to learn.
vs Cincinnati 60 Who the hell authorized Cincinnati becoming a national program?
@ Western Ky 80 Don't go all Northwestern and fuck this up, Indiana.
@ PSU 40 The Beav is no Kinnick, but it's not a particularly nice place to visit, either. Also, I think PSU might remember 2020 when this game comes around.
vs Sparty 80 Now I've gone and done it. Gave Sparty a chip.
vs OSU 0 There's no amount of Kool-Aid...
@ Maryland 70 Maryland should be on QB3 by this time. Indiana will only be on QB2.
@ Michigan 80 If I squint really hard I can see Michigan's defense coming around to 'merely very bad' by this point in the season. But probably not.
vs Rutgers 80 Schiano is doing work in Piscattaway, but Allen is much further along the curve.
vs Minnesota 70 Minnesota is the only team in the world that lost to Michigan in regulation in 2020.
@ Purdue 70 Yes I know it's a rivalry game. But I believe in Tom Allen considerably more than I believe in Jeff Brohm. Not a thing I would have expected to say a few years ago.

Beez: (1) Ummm that year the O Line was on the cover of SI? Or the year experts picked them as a playoff contender? Oooo or last year? Either way, the answer’s the same: Not as well as we’d all hoped.

(2) Every Big Ten team should go on the road to Boone, NC to play App State so I can watch them play and hopefully lose (unless it’s Wisconsin). I would absolutely tolerate a Wisconsin trip to App State.

(3) 8-4. Win the first 4 games, lose the next 4 due to COVID/a series of injuries, win the last 4.

MNW: The obvious one here is 2013, when Northwestern entered the year ranked 22nd, rolled into a home date with Ohio State at 4-0, and I seem to have blacked out and forgotten what happened thereafter. Urban Meyer can get fucked, though.

Absolutely they should—while I don’t know that I’d choose Western Kentucky. A few P5 teams over the last few years, including Indiana at Florida International, made use of those trips as a way of recruiting in-season, which is an excellent idea. (Unless you go on the road and lose to, I don’t know, Nevada. Hi, Purdue!) Sticking regionally, if Indiana fans might travel to Bowling Green for this game, it’s not the WORST idea.

Northwestern uses them a little differently: there is the “recruiting” angle—see future roadies at Tulane (2025) and Rice (2029), down in a region NU recruits well—but there’s also the “no one’s at Ryan Field” and “smart school 2-for-1” angle. Outside an ill-fated visit to Army back in 2011, it’s been a fine strategy.

3-1 in the first four sets up Indiana for some fireworks and headlines. But Michael Penix’s injury-proneness and my own concerns about Indiana’s running game leads to a mid-season swoon, and we’ll call it 8-4 (5-4), though I can be talked into 7-5 easily.

Stew:

  1. The last time with high expectations...? Oh, let’s go back to 2016 for a minute, and hey, it’s a top 10 preseason and a favorite for the division, and....open the season with a loss to an FCS team. So...not great.
  2. I mean, maybe if there’s a good relationship with an in-state team and it’s some sort of lopsided thing. But man, that gets dangerous fast. I should know, Iowa does play at Iowa State every other year.
  3. Let’s go 7-5 (5-4), which is pretty damn decent for the schedule. I think scheduling Cincy is a big mistake, and then establish themselves at the same level as Michigan, winning the last 4 after getting tripped up by either Maryland or Michigan State.

HWAHSQB: 2009 was supposed to be a big year for Illinois. An experienced and talent laden team is going to have a great season, but we got Zooked instead. Damn, if anyone of y’alls team’s season ended like that, I’d still be laughing.

I actually travelled to Hattiesburg, MS in 2002 for Illinois to fall to the USM Golden Eagles and the first cracks began to appear in the foundation that we thought was built after the 2001 B1G championship. We’re terrible and Illinois should always schedule the weakest non-con we can. If scheduling high schools teams were allowed, Illinois should do that.

I am not a believer. Indiana was statistically the luckiest team in football last year. They were outgained in total yards and yards per play significantly. That is not a sustainable way to win a lot of games. I predict both Purdue and Indiana to 5-6 heading into the bucket game and there will be a berth in the Cheezit Bowl on the line rivalry week in the state of Indiana. I guess I’ll take the red team and say 6-6.

Candystripes: I’m not sure I remember the last time Indiana entered a football season with high expectations. Most years I can remember, the “high” expectation was “get to 6 wins and go bowling,” and uh......yeah.

Given the amount of places we’ve gone on the road to play (and lost some of them), I’m not sure that there’s an FBS school in the country Indiana wouldn’t play at. And honestly, I think that’s fine. We may not need to make as many of those trips now, assuming the team stays good, but one a year probably won’t kill anyone.

Undefeated 15-0 national champions. SUCK IT, BAMA! Nah, I’m not that crazy. 8-4 (6-3), and maybe finally a bowl win.

Poll

Indiana in the Big Ten in 2021:

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    2-7 or worse
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    3-6
    (6 votes)
  • 20%
    4-5
    (48 votes)
  • 33%
    5-4
    (77 votes)
  • 26%
    6-3
    (60 votes)
  • 13%
    7-2 or better
    (32 votes)
230 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Indiana overall in 2021:

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    5-7 or worse
    (15 votes)
  • 10%
    6-6
    (23 votes)
  • 32%
    7-5
    (72 votes)
  • 25%
    8-4
    (55 votes)
  • 20%
    #9WINDIANA
    (44 votes)
  • 5%
    10-2 or better
    (11 votes)
220 votes total Vote Now