Updated: Oct 28, 2019
As Indiana gets set to embark on the second half of their schedule, I thought it'd be fun to go through game by game the rest of IU's football season and try to predict what will happen. Im looking at all the variables and will predict who will win, by what score and who will breakout with a big game. Let's get right to it.
Rutgers (Homecoming) 10/12
Indiana is coming off of a very impressive showing on the road at Michigan State. In a hostile environment, freshman quarterback Michael Penix threw for 286 yards and a career high 3 touchdowns. He also set a program record with 20 consecutive completions. He looked very good coming back from an undisclosed injury, and he’ll be looking to continue his hot season against a lackluster Rutgers team.
Player of the Game: Michael Penix Jr.
Without a doubt, Penix is going to have a huge game. He’ll be back in front of the home crowd, and he’ll be looking to give them a show in the Homecoming game. Rutgers gives up way too many passing yards, and Penix specializes in accurate passes. His ability to throw accurately, and to throw accurately downfield, will give the Rutgers secondary fits all game long. The only thing that will prevent him from throwing for 400 yards will be the bench, as hell be sitting there when his team is up 30+ in the second half.
Final Score: 55-7 Indiana
Rutgers is coming into Bloomington losers of four straight, all double-digit losses. They’ve lost their last two by a combined score of 100-7. I expect more of the same in this one as Indiana’s offense is rolling behind Penix, and their defense is starting to figure it out. They were one or two plays from upsetting Michigan State, so they have what it takes to play with the big dogs. This game will come down to if IU plays down to their competition like they usually do, or if they play them at their full potential. If they do the latter, this could be their biggest offensive day of the season.
Maryland (A) 10/19
After a should-be beatdown of Rutgers, Indiana hits the tough part of their schedule, starting with an east coast road game. Maryland has already beaten up on Rutgers, 48-7, one week removed from a 59-0 embarrassment at home by Penn State. They’ve shown they can respond from adversity. They also started the year with two huge wins over Howard and then ranked Syracuse, winning by a combined score of 142-20. Their offense can dominate, but so can Indiana’s. This has the potential to be a big-time shootout.
Player of the Game: Michael Penix Jr.
Once again, I expect the freshman to absolutely ball. This game will be one of his best chances to break 400 yards, as Maryland has a tendency to give up big games through the air. He has already proven he can ball on the road against a good defense. I am very intrigued to see what he does against a not so good defense on the road.
Final Score: 48-38 Indiana
In a shootout, I have Indiana going into College Park and stunning the Terrapins. According to ESPN’s FPI, Maryland has over a 60% chance to win this game, but I never listen to the numbers. Penix has proven to be more efficient and accurate than Maryland’s Josh Jackson. Where Maryland can run away with this one, literally, is on the ground as Anthony McFarland Jr. is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and Maryland as a team is averaging over 200 rushing yards. If Indiana can defend the run, they’ll win this one handily.
Nebraska (A) 10/26
Another road game for Indiana, another opportunity to shock the conference. Nebraska is the favored team, but Indiana won’t be looking at the numbers. Head coach Tom Allen is focused on getting his team ready to play their best football, and their best football can compete with anyone. Nebraska comes in with the better offense, but Indiana holds the better defense. This one will surely be decided late in the fourth quarter.
Player of the Game: Stevie Scott
Scott has the ability to have a big game here. Nebraska gives up over 165 rush yards a game, giving Scott the opportunity to go off. He’s been held to under 100 yards in every game so far this season, but Indiana hasn’t had solidarity on the offensive line for a few weeks. They’re inserting a new left tackle and will have two games to get him set. By the time this game comes up, the line will look better and will create the space Scott needs to get free.
Final Score: 34-23 Indiana
This is a bold move to have the Hoosiers winning back to back road games they’re expected to lose, but I have faith in this team. I’ve seen their potential. Michael Penix is the best quarterback they’ve had in a few years. Stevie Scott is their most powerful back since Jordan Howard. They have a fantastic receiving core. The offense is there, they just need their defense to catch up. Tom Allen is a defensive coach. There’s no way he doesn’t have his defense ready to go for the second half of the schedule. Indiana wins this game and becomes bowl eligible, eliminating that heart wrenching game against Purdue when they’re sitting at 5-6.
Northwestern (H) 11/2
After their two-week road trip, Indiana returns home to take on a struggling Northwestern team who’s lost three in a row. This is a big game for Indiana. Although I have them at 6-3, they could very well be at 4-5. If that’s the case, they’ll need to get their fifth win before they play Penn State and Michigan. A loss here could put them in a situation where they’ll have to upset Penn State or Michigan, and that’s a scenario no Indiana fan wants to see.
Player of the Game: Whop Philyor
I could’ve easily said Michael Penix once again, but I have a feeling Whop can break off a couple huge plays. Northwestern’s defense is keeping their offense afloat. They don’t give up many pass yards, which should result in lots of short passes from Penix. That’s what they did against Michigan State, and Whop had 142 yards and two touchdowns. Whop’s elusiveness and speed makes him dangerous on screen passes, and he has the ability to break off big plays in this one.
Final Score: 24-13 Indiana
Four straight wins??? Yes, I no its crazy, but this is a different IU team. Penix gives them a different feel with his ability to make big throws downfield, throw accurate short passes and to scramble and get a first down. Stevie Scott is struggling but is bound to break out. And they have the best receiving core they’ve had for years. On top of that, the defense continues to improve and make adjustments. The team they’re facing is not the Big Ten runner ups from last year. After their starting quarterback got hurt, they haven’t found their way. The replacement Hunter Johnson has four interceptions to one touchdown. With no real leader for the Wildcats, the Hoosiers will look to take advantage.
Penn State (A) 11/16
Penn State hasn’t missed a beat after Trace McSorley graduated. Sean Clifford is second in the Big Ten in passing yards totaling 1443 through five games. He’s only 100 yards away from first place Brian Lewerke, despite completing 34 less passes. On top of the yardage he’s thrown 12 touchdowns to just two picks, being very efficient for the Nittany Lions. On defense, they are deadly, giving up just 7.4 points per game. At this point, they probably have the best chance of knocking off Ohio State.
Player of the Game: Sean Clifford
Clifford has been deadly this year through the air and I expect more of the same in this one. Indiana has been better in the passing defense, but their secondary is spotty. Combine that with his success targeting KJ Hamler and Clifford should have a field day on his home turf.
Final Score: 44-20 Penn State
Indiana showed promise in their road game against Michigan State, but this Penn State squad is a different animal. With their high scoring offense and their suffocating defense, they have the making of a College Football Playoff team, should they continue their dominance. A loss on the road here shouldn’t be a big blow to Indiana as they’ll go into the game knowing theyre up against a very good football team.
Michigan (H) 11/23
So far in his three years at Indiana, Tom Allen is yet to have that signature win. He’s come oh so close multiple times, one of those times being two years ago against Michigan. Though the Hoosiers fell short then, they have what it takes to get the job done now. As the Wolverines continue to find their identity, this is a great chance for the Hoosiers to get that big win.
Player of the Game: Michigan’s defense
Looking at all the numbers, nobody on either team looks poised to break out and have a big game. Because of that, I award the player of the game to the entire Michigan defense. Michigan does a tremendous job at shutting down opposing quarterbacks. Even when they lost by 28 to Wisconsin, they held Jack Coan to just 128 yards. This is a game where Michael Penix can look silly. This is a defense that held Iowa to three points, forcing three interceptions. Offensively they have work to do, meaning this game could be close. But their defense will ultimately seal the deal.
Final Score: 23-17 Michigan
In a close scoring game, the Michigan defense will hold on for the road win. Indiana has the pieces to put up a fight, but they’ll fall short. There is a month and half until this game is played, giving Jim Harbaugh sufficient time to get his team right, and by the time this game comes around they’ll be playing some real good football.
Purdue (A) 11/30
In the season finale, Indiana will travel to West Lafayette to take on a struggling Boilermaker team. The past two meetings were a must win for IU to make a bowl game, and with losses both times around they were sitting at home during bowl season. This year they have the opportunity to be bowl bound before this game, relieving hefty amounts of stress. But if they falter down the stretch, they can find themselves sitting at 5-6 when this game comes up once again.
Player of the Game: Michael Penix Jr.
Purdue has a bad passing defense. They give up almost 300 yards a game, though that number would be higher if TCU didn’t have 70 passing yards. They made Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan look like the next #1 overall draft pick, giving up 396 yards and four touchdowns. This is a defense that Penix can absolutely feast on. With his pocket awareness and deadly accuracy, he could be well on his way to a 350 yard, three touchdown day.
Final Score: 34-20 Indiana
Indiana has the far superior offense, especially with Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar possibly out for the reminder of the season with a collarbone injury and All-American receiver Rondale Moore out with a knee injury. With the uncertainty of Purdue’s offense, IU will look to capitalize. Even with Sindelar and Moore healthy, the Hoosiers still have a good chance to win. The difference will be in the defenses, and IU has shown more on defense than Purdue. The Hoosiers allow 10 less points and 128 less yards per game. When it’s all said and done, Indiana walks away with their first win over their rival since 2016.
It is definitely an unpopular opinion, but I see this team winning eight games. Yes, eight. Maybe even nine depending on their bowl opponent. I might be too optimistic, but I see this team making a bowl game regardless. Indiana is just as capable of going 6-6, but I’m looking at their upside. Penix gives IU an all around offense with his downfield ability, and the defense is coming around. This team has the ability to play with the best, and they’re ready to show it. All I know for certain is this team is going to their first bowl since 2016.