Well, this is it. This is the last word I get to convince you that the 2023 Indiana Hoosiers will be something. In fact, I don’t need to do much convincing of that. The Hoosiers will be something this year. That something could be good, or it could be bad. But either way, it will be one of those things. They will be something.
The brilliant thing is, the Indiana Hoosiers come into this season with no expectations. Literally, not one. Tom Allen isn’t on the hot seat. There’s no reason to believe this team will go bowling. Nobody honestly thinks Indiana will hit 4 wins.
Perhaps this is a good place for Indiana to be. Set the bar low and achieve. If the Hoosiers are competitive and manage to get to 4 or 5 wins, I can’t see many offseason issues for Tom Allen and company come the offseason for 2024.
Now, 2024 may pose some problems, but we’ll worry about that when it arrives. Here are the cases for good Indiana and bad Indiana this season, as brought to you by me.
Sep 2 – Ohio State
Sep 8 – Indiana State Sycamores
Sep 16 – Louisville @ Lucas Oil Stadium
Sep 23 – Akron Zips
Sep 30 - @ Maryland
Oct 14 - @ Michigan
Oct 21 – Rutgers
Oct 28 - @ Penn State
Nov 4 – Wisconsin
Nov 11 - @ Illinois
Nov 18 – Michigan State
Nov 25 - @ Purdue
Given the lack of real time or energy to devote to this, I’ll get the most logical section out of the way first. Assuming lady fate decides to continue kicking Indiana fans in the nuts, we can assume that things will not shake out Indiana’s way. Through the month of September, you’re basically looking at 2-3 heading into the bye week on October 7th. From there, it’s anyone’s game but the Hoosiers. The only games you’ll probably compete in are Rutgers and Michigan State. Perhaps you get lucky and compete with Wisconsin, but it’s not likely. Indiana finishes the year 4-8 once again, setting up an ultimatum year for Tom Allen in 2024.
The major issue this season will be the offense once again. I was going to narrow it to the quarterback and the offensive line, but shit that’s half of a normal offense anyway so why not just round up. The offensive line will definitely decide the fate of the season, but so will the quarterback play. Who is under center and what can they do? You saw last season that when the Hoosiers committed and schemed to play option style football, they looked pretty freaking good and pretty fun. No, you won’t beat Ohio State that way, but you can sure as shit compete with the middle to lower tier teams. Can Tayven Jackson or Brendan Sorsby provide an outlet on the ground? Can Dexter Williams get healthy and give the offense a boost? Doubtful, but the offense is definitely the area of the team that will make or break this season. In the case of bad Indiana, the offense will be dead in the water.
Now, I don’t want to come off as crazy. I simply just want to be allowed to fantasize for just a few paragraphs. Remember when I said that the offense would be the major issue a couple sentences ago? Well with good Indiana, the Hoosiers are able to field a moderately competent but inexperienced squad. This can be a good thing as sometimes you’re too stupid to know that throw was a dumb one to make even though it panned out. Perhaps the line shows vast improvements and doesn’t get trampled on by…checks notes…Idaho or Indiana State.
In this scenario, the Hoosiers get a few things to break their way. Firstly, nobody’s season ends on September 2nd in the drubbing that is the Ohio State game. I’m not asking for a win or even for competing in the game. I just want everyone healthy. From there, Indiana can get some breaks. For starters, you’re able to sack Akron and Indiana State immediately into the win column. 2-1. I think best case scenario, Indiana is able to pick off 1 of Louisville or Maryland. That makes you 3-2 heading into your bye week and that is the best case scenario.
Now….one could say that it is within the realm of possibility for Indiana to be 4-1 too….
WAIT…one would be crazy for saying such things and expecting that as a result….
but…saying that Indiana and Maryland or Indiana and Louisville are in difference weight classes is completely ignoring the evidence before us. Indiana was a horrid defensive possession and perhaps the worst fumble I’ve seen away from beating Maryland last year. Louisville is replacing their coach who plays a distinct style of football and that game is NOT in Louisville or outside….look at me sounding crazy…let’s go back to 3-2 and moving out of the bye.
The next 3 games, you can definitely expect to be 1-2. Unless Penn State suffers some sort of cataclysmic meltdown, the Hoosiers will be throttled in that game. I assume it’ll be an ass kicking at Michigan too but Indiana does have a tendency to give Michigan a good game so who knows. The lone win in that stretch will be Rutgers who by this point in the season will be struggling and falling off a cliff one can assume for this exercise.
Now, you’re 4-4 heading into the home stretch. This is where it gets interesting. You get Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, AND Purdue. 2 new 1st year coaches at their schools. One team whose program appears to be sputtering like Indiana’s. One team whose coach appears to have the program locked in BUT is due for a regression one can think? None of these teams are outside Indiana’s weight class this year. Not saying Indiana is winning all 4, but you’ve got a shot. Simply winning 2 of those games puts you in a bowl, and winning 3 or even all 4 gets Tom Allen more breathing room heading into 2024.
That is best case scenario for Indiana. Out of 12 games, you’ve got 2 that are easy wins, 7 that are competitive, and 3 that you’re squarely losing. The chances aren’t good, but Indiana definitely has a punchers chance to get back to 6-6 and get to a lower tier bowl.
Indiana isn’t going to be some world beating force in football. I’m not sure that anyone has ever even asked for that. All we want is a competitive program. Someone who, sure, has a couple 4-8, 5-7 seasons, but is also able to get a couple years of 8-4, 9-3 years to balance the scales.
As conference realignment continues, ensuring your football program is on the right track will be vital. As an athletic department with the 13th ranked revenue margin in the country in 2022, Indiana definitely has the resources to field a competitive program. The question is, does Indiana have the right pieces to compete now? That question is up in the air, but it’s about to be settled for many in the fan base.
No doubt you’ll see articles (most likely written by BU89), that claim Tom Allen is on the hot seat this season. He isn’t. He won’t be unless the wheels fall off the program or he just absolutely goes batshit crazy and drunkenly wrecks his car into Lake Monroe. That said, should the Hoosiers not be able to be competitive and really present a decent shot at 6 wins this year, Tom Allen is betting his coaching job on the 2024 season.
I feat that’s how it’s going to go. I truly think Indiana is going to be 4-8 with nothing really to show for it. Opportunity is out there though for the Hoosiers to do more, but let’s be real Charlie Brown. How many times do we actually get to kick the football?
Indiana kicks off their season with Ohio State in Bloomington on Saturday, September 2nd at 3:30 PM EST on CBS