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IU Football: Hoosiers No. 27 in First 2020 SP+ Rankings With Another Winning Season Predicted

Indiana appears to have a football program on the rise, and data points continue to emerge to back up that sentiment.

ESPN staff writer Bill Connelly released his preliminary SP+ ratings for the coming season and Indiana comes in at No. 27 in the predictive analytical system.

Connelly bases his preseason projection on three factors:

1. Returning Production.  This is the measure of how much of a team’s roster is returning, weighted to account for the positions that typically make a more meaningful impact.  As we shared last week, Indiana is the No. 11 team in the country and the top team in the Big Ten East when it comes to returning production.

2. Recent Recruiting.  This component assesses how much the returning production will be bolstered by recent recruiting success.  Indiana’s 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes were two of its best ever, while the 2020 class took a step back in the rankings.  The players from the 2018 and 2019 classes will continue to see playing time as they fill the open spots left by graduation and transfers.

3. Recent History.  It is a minor factor in the SP+ formula, but Indiana’s upward trajectory influences its place in the standings.  After consecutive 5-7 seasons, Indiana finished the 2020 season with an 8-5 mark.  IU was No. 23 in Connelly’s final 2019 rankings.

All things considered, Indiana comes in at No. 27 in Connelly’s well-known system.  That puts Indiana behind six teams in the Big Ten overall, four of which they will face in 2020.

Three of the usual suspects in the Big Ten East sit above Indiana in the SP+ rankings.

National power Ohio State is No. 2, while Penn State is No. 5 and Michigan No. 16.  Indiana travels to Ohio State and Michigan in 2020 and they will host Penn State.

Notably below Indiana in the ranking system is Michigan State (No. 45).  Going through a coaching change and with a significant loss of production, the Spartans look like a team that Indiana can surpass in their division in 2020.  IU hosts the Spartans this year, and that game will no doubt be a high profile contest when they meet on Oct. 24.  Based on the schedule, Indiana would appear to have a good chance to be 5-1 going into that game.

IU is also well above remaining Big Ten East foes Maryland (No. 66) and Rutgers (No. 102) in the SP+ rankings.  Indiana will host Maryland and travel to Rutgers in 2020.

Here is how the rest of Indiana’s 2020 opponents are ranked in the SP+ system:

  • Wisconsin (No. 9 / away)
  • Purdue (No. 46 / home)
  • Western Kentucky (No. 57 / home)
  • Illinois (No. 61 / home)
  • Ball State (No. 84 / home)
  • UConn (No. 126 / away)

When you take into account Indiana’s opponents, their SP+ rankings, and the location of each game, another strong season by IU standards appears to be in store.

Indiana football site Punt John Punt did the math, and seven or eight wins in 2020 appear to be the two most likely scenarios according to the predictive model.

If the model turns out to be accurate, it would be another historic season for the Hoosiers in 2020.

Indiana has not had consecutive winning season since 1993-94, and the program has not experienced consecutive seasons with at least eight wins since 1987-88.

For more on Indiana’s 2020 schedule and complete position-by-position summary of who is coming and going for the Hoosiers, check out these links:

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