If you find yourself pleased with Indiana’s 3-0 start but not quite sure how for real they are just yet, you are in good company.
IU football has been much more hare than tortoise throughout much of its history, often bursting out of the gate in September before hitting the meat of its schedule.
And the outside world believes that is the case with these 2022 Hoosiers, a team that while undefeated, has admittedly not been convincing, especially over the last two weeks against non-Power Five competition.
The gauntlet begins on Saturday when the Hoosiers venture away from the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium for the first time this season. Indiana travels to 2021 College Football Playoff participant Cincinnati, a team off to a 2-1 start with wins over Miami (Ohio) and Kennesaw State, following a season-opening road loss at Arkansas.
Of college football’s 33 unbeaten teams, ESPN’s Bill Connelly ranked IU No. 32 on Monday, and his SP+ data driven model paints a grim picture for Saturday at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats are around a 17-point favorite according to oddsmakers early in the week, and Connelly’s model likes Cincinnati to win by an even wider margin, 38-15. Moreover, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives IU just a 12.3 percent chance to win.
While Cincinnati is a big favorite on Saturday, they trailed Miami 17-7 before rallying this past weekend. They are a team IU knows well. The Hoosiers led the Bearcats 14-0 well into the second quarter a year ago before an ejection of star linebacker Micah McFadden seemingly precipitated a complete collapse. Cincinnati outscored IU 38-10 the rest of the way.
Is Cincinnati really that much better than Illinois, a team that dominated Wyoming and Virginia, sandwiched around a loss to IU? That remains to be seen. The Bearcats returned just 59 percent of their production from a year ago according to Connelly. The losses included quarterback Desmond Ridder, wide receivers Alec Pierce and Michael Young Jr., running back Jerome Ford, and three defensive backs taken in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft in Ahmad Gardner, Coby Bryant and Bryan Cook.
Cincinnati announced a month ago the game is sold out. Indiana fans looking for tickets can purchase them via our StubHub affiliate link RIGHT HERE. Tickets could be obtained for as low as $90 there at the time of publishing.
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