We are four weeks away from the start of the 2018 Indiana Hoosiers football season. As it should be — you can always find optimism inside the bubble of IU football and its fans going into just about any upcoming fall campaign.
Spend a few minutes around Tom Allen, and you might just predict a Hoosier breakthrough yourself — that is after you finish running through a brick wall for him.
But it is always instructive to take a step back and see what the independent prognosticators are saying about your favorite team. A number of various national outlets have released preseason Big Ten predictions and power rankings, including thoughts on the outlook for Indiana.
Today we take a look at how they see things playing out for IU in 2018:
BILL CONNELLY/SB NATION
Connelly divided all of the Big Ten into tiers, with IU included at the top of Tier 3:
“Any of these teams could break through to about 8-4 or so, and if the Big Ten ends up being college football’s best conference this season, it’s because this tier actually didn’t stink.”
He also took a shot at the Big Ten East standings using a predictive statistical model called “S&P.”
2018 projected standings (per S&P+)
- Ohio State 7.6 (10.4)
- Penn State 6.5 (9.1)
- Michigan State 6.2 (8.9)
- Michigan 6.0 (8.2)
- Indiana 3.3 (5.5)
- Maryland 2.8 (4.2)
- Rutgers 2.3 (4.3)
This one is a good read with a lot of statistical analysis. Connelly also names Nick Westbrook and Marcelino Ball as IU’s top offensive and defensive players, respectively.
The magazine did its annual predictions and has Indiana as the 11th best team overall in their preseason power rankings. This is what they had to to say about the Hoosiers:
“The defense played well for Tom Allen last season, but only Jacob Robinson, Andre Brown and Jonathan Crawford return as proven starters from that squad. Offensively, the Hoosiers will look to the combination of Nick Westbrook, back from injury, and Luke Timian to help put points back on the table. Indiana returns its entire offensive line from last season.”
Lindy’s call: “Tom Allen is a master motivator. But questions on defense conspire to keep the Hoosiers bowl-less again.”
Allen landed Indiana’s best recruiting class in years and has upgraded the program’s athleticism. But depending on freshmen to win against Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State is not a winning formula. With questions at quarterback, the offensive line and across the defense, the ceiling for this team could be six wins.
NATIONAL RANKING: 63
BIG TEN EAST PREDICTION: 6
BIG TEN MEDIA POLL
(conducted by Cleveland.com at the Big Ten media days)
BIG TEN EAST
1. Ohio State, 191.5 points (23.5 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 142 points (2)
3. Penn State, 141.5 points (1)
4. Michigan, 140.5 points (1.5)
5. Maryland, 75.5 points
6. Indiana, 60 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points
Tom Allen’s Hoosiers play as many as five nationally-ranked teams and that’s not including a tough non-conference home bout vs. Virginia. Nine losses would be a considerable step back from last season, but the Hoosiers did lose a couple notable playmakers on offense. Eight returning starters on defense will help Indiana hang around in games, but the other side of the football is what will ultimately determine a .500 season — or worse.
ESPN ranked the entire Big Ten 1 through 14:
10. Indiana Hoosiers
Tom Allen’s first season as Hoosiers coach featured four single-digit losses and no bowl game. To close the gap, Allen will rely on young players, particularly with a defense returning only four starters and just one in the front seven. Allen is a terrific defensive coach, but the personnel situation will test him. Indiana has some nice pieces on offense with running back Morgan Ellison and wide receivers Luke Timian and Nick Westbrook, who returns from an ACL tear after a 54-catch season in 2016. The immediate question is quarterback as Peyton Ramsey, who started four games last season and will compete with Arizona graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins and others for the starting job
THE SPORTING NEWS
Big Ten East predictions
1. Ohio State
3. Penn State
4. Michigan State
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