With Spring practice ongoing, it is still too early for firm predictions on the 2018 college football season. Nevertheless, ESPN has come out with their first Football Power Index rankings and win total predictions for the season.
ESPN describes the FPI as follows: “The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”
Despite winning an average of 5.7 games over the last 3 years, the FPI sees the Hoosiers taking a step back in 2018, projecting a win total of 4.5. That projection is likely influenced by two primary factors.
In our spring practice roster preview, we highlighted that Indiana will have a lot of gaps to fill on its defense, especially as it relates to the line and linebackers. There is also the open question at the critical quarterback position. While the Hoosiers seem to have multiple viable options competing at the position, none is proven at this point.
The other inescapable factor that confronts IU each year is the brutal Big Ten East schedule. The Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State gauntlet is of course back in 2018. Indiana catches a break by not facing Wisconsin in 2018, but there are no easy wins in conference play.
Here is Indiana’s 2018 schedule, with the FPI projected wins in bold.
September 1 – at Florida International
September 8 – vs. Virginia
September 15 – vs. Ball State
September 22 – vs. Michigan State
September 29 – at Rutgers
October 6 – at Ohio State
October 13 – vs. Iowa
October 20 – vs. Penn State
October 26 – at Minnesota
November 10 – vs. Maryland
November 17 – at Michigan
November 24 – vs. Purdue
As you might expect, several of these games are projected to be close, including Rutgers, Minnesota and Purdue. On paper at least, it looks like another season where the Hoosiers’ bowl eligibility will hinge on winning just these kind of games.
Here is the complete list of Big Ten teams with their projected win total, shown in FPI ranking order:
- Ohio State: 10.3
- Penn State: 9.7
- Michigan State: 9.5
- Michigan: 8.6
- Wisconsin: 9.6
- Iowa: 8.2
- Northwestern: 6.3
- Purdue: 5.4
- Nebraska: 5.5
- Minnesota: 5.7
- Maryland: 4.7
- Indiana: 4.5
- Rutgers: 4.3
- Illinois: 4.6
Here’s a link to the complete ESPN FPI national list.
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