2015 season preview: Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana's offense figures to bounce back with the return of Nate Sudfeld at quarterback, but will the Hoosiers defense improve? Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the 2015 season for the Indiana Hoosiers:

2014 record: 4-8 (1-7 Big Ten)

Key losses: RB Tevin Coleman; WR Shane Wynn; S Mark Murphy; S Antonio Allen; CB Tim Bennett; DL Bobby Richardson; LB David Cooper.

Key returners: QB Nate Sudfeld; OT Jason Spriggs; G Dan Feeney; DL Ralph Green III; DL Darius Latham; LB Tegray Scales

Instant-impact freshman: The Hoosiers landed an ESPN JC 50 wide receiver in Camion Patrick, a prospect from Tennessee who will be very good for the Hoosiers. However, if we’re looking at the high school level, receiver Leon Thornton has an opportunity to do some big things at Indiana. A four-star receiver out of Illinois, Thornton was a highly sought after prospect and should fare well at Indiana. -- Tom Van Haaren

Class of ’16 update: The 2016 class didn’t get off to a fast start for Indiana, with nine of the 10 current commitments coming in June or later. There are four commitments ranked as three-stars, but not a lot of big names in this class. The Hoosiers are another Big Ten team that needs to show some success on the field this season if it wants to start bringing in bigger-name prospects. -- TVH

Biggest question mark: Can the defense take a step forward? That seems to be the biggest question every year in Hoosierland. Indiana's offense figures to bounce back with the return of Nate Sudfeld at quarterback, and UAB transfer Jordan Howard should help replace much if not all of Tevin Coleman's enormous production. But if the defense can't consistently hold opponents to under 30 points a game, it might not be enough. The offseason dismissal of talented safety Antonio Allen was a big setback for a unit that has had trouble stopping the big play.

Most important game: The season finale at Purdue. The Old Oaken Bucket game always looms large for both programs, and Indiana has won the last two in the series. This year's game in West Lafayette could very well have bowl implications if the Hoosiers can take care of business elsewhere.

Upset special: Western Kentucky on Sept. 19. The Hilltoppers return the nucleus of a team that won eight games last year and are one of the favorites in Conference USA this season. They have an explosive offense that could give Indiana trouble. This is the kind of game that the Hoosiers have fumbled away in the past, keeping themselves out of the postseason.

Key stat: Since 2008, Indiana has given up more yards per game (446.7) than every Power 5 program except Iowa State and Washington State.

Prediction: 6-6. Hey, it's got to happen sometime, right? Indiana showed its potential last year when Sudfeld helped lead an upset win at Missouri. If the Hoosiers can sweep their soft nonconference slate, they'll just need to beat Purdue and pick off one more Big Ten victory to get to a bowl. Sounds easy enough, but it never is in Bloomington.