The season’s creeping closer and closer. But until it officially starts, we’ll be looking forward and analyzing every Big Ten team’s 2014 schedule.
Up next: Indiana
Nonconference schedule (with 2013 records)
Aug 30: Indiana State (1-11)
Sept. 13: at Bowling Green (10-4)
Sept. 20: at Missouri (12-2)
Oct. 4: North Texas (9-4)
East Division games
Sept. 27: Maryland
Oct 18: Michigan State
Nov. 1: at Michigan
Nov. 8: Penn State
Nov. 15: at Rutgers
Nov. 22: at Ohio State
Oct. 11: at Iowa
Nov. 29: Purdue
Gut-check game: The Hoosiers last beat Ohio State in 1988, so it’s pretty safe to say the Buckeyes have had their number. OSU is 20-0-1 in the last 21 meetings, and Indiana’s only come within 10 points once in the last 13 meetings. Oh, and Indiana’s defense has allowed at least 30 points in the last 10 meetings against OSU, too. Defensive coordinator Brian Knorr and his 3-4 defense will definitely have their hands full against Braxton Miller. It’s gut-check time.
Trap game: Bowling Green is far from a guaranteed win and, with two high-scoring offenses, it’s a matchup that has the potential to be pretty entertaining. Sure, Bowling Green lost its head coach, Dave Clawson, to Wake Forest -- but it also hired FCS Eastern Illinois’ Dino Babers, whose quarterback last season passed for more than 5,000 yards and 50 TDs en route to winning the equivalent of the FCS Heisman. Some experts are already picking the Falcons to win the MAC, so last season’s 42-10 win might not translate into another easy win in 2014.
Snoozer: Not only did Indiana schedule an FCS team, but it scheduled a pitiful FCS team. The Hoosiers upended the Sycamores, 73-35, last season while piling up 619 yards on offense. And it shouldn’t be much different this season. This is about as close to an automatic win as you can get.
Nonconference challenge: If Missouri finishes the season within the Top 25, it would surprise absolutely no one. The Tigers are a solid team in a solid conference, and it won’t help the Hoosiers much to play Missouri on the road this season. The Tigers cruised past Indiana, 45-28, last season and it could be more of the same this year. Indiana doesn’t play Nebraska or Wisconsin this season but, with Missouri on the schedule, it won’t receive any kind of break.
Analysis: Indiana is aiming for a bowl this season after missing out on the postseason for the last six years. Still, it’s not going to be easy -- and Indiana could end up right on the bubble. Two things really have to happen for the Hoosiers to reach or break .500: One, improve that awful defense and, two, win the close games. Only two Indiana games were decided by a touchdown or less in 2013, and it lost them both (to Navy, 41-35, and to Minnesota, 42-39). On the plus side, Indiana’s defense can’t get much worse ... but, on the negative end, we’ve also been saying that for years.