IU Football: Hoosiers ranked in the top-26 in both of ESPN’s SP+ and FPI advanced rating systems

Make no mistake, Indiana drew a tough slate when the Big Ten released its updated 2020 schedule on Saturday morning.

Indiana got no favors from the league, and it never does playing in the Big Ten East.  The Hoosiers are the only team in the Big Ten that has to face all four traditional powerhouse programs Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan.

But don’t go full Nebraska mode and throw a temper tantrum about the undeniably challenging eight game gauntlet.  This might be the IU team best equipped to take on the tall task in more than 25 years.  At least that is how prominent national analytical systems see it right now.

The Hoosiers are No. 26 nationally according to Bill Connelly’s SP+ system and No. 18 according to ESPN’s FPI.  IU is No. 8 and No. 5 in the Big Ten according to those rating systems, respectively.

Take a look at how IU is expected to fare according to SP+ and FPI when the league kicks off in just over a month.

BILL CONNELLY’S SP+

ESPN staff writer Bill Connelly released his updated SP+ ratings for the season with the Big Ten now back in the mix.

Connelly bases his preseason projection on three factors:  (1) returning production, (2) recent recruiting, and (3) recent history.

Indiana is one of the top teams in the country and the top team in the Big Ten East when it comes to returning production.  With no opt-outs for the 2020 season, Indiana’s place in the rankings has only been enhanced.

(East in bold, national ranking in parenthesis)

  1. Ohio State (1)
  2. Penn State (6)
  3. Wisconsin (7)
  4. Minnesota (17)
  5. Michigan (18)
  6. Iowa (22)
  7. Nebraska (25)
  8. Indiana (26)
  9. Michigan State (40)
  10. Purdue (41)
  11. Northwestern (44)
  12. Illinois (50)
  13. Maryland (58)
  14. Rutgers (78)

ESPN’S FPI INDEX – RANKINGS

ESPN describes the FPI as “a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. The ultimate goal of FPI is not to rank teams 1 through 128; rather, it is to correctly predict games and season outcomes.

The FPI was created in 2013 and factors in all three phases of the game.

“… Each team’s FPI rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams component. These ratings represent the number of points each unit is expected to contribute to the team’s net scoring margin on a neutral field against an average FBS opponent.

(East in bold, national ranking in parenthesis)

  1. Ohio State (1)
  2. Wisconsin (4)
  3. Penn State (6)
  4. Michigan (15)
  5. Indiana (18)
  6. Northwestern (19)
  7. Iowa (20)
  8. Minnesota (23)
  9. Nebraska (30)
  10. Purdue (47)
  11. Illinois (48)
  12. Michigan State (58)
  13. Rutgers (64)
  14. Maryland (71)

ESPN’S FPI INDEX – GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS

The FPI Index assessed Indiana’s chance to win each of its eight games.

All eyes will be on week three against Michigan.  The game is a toss-up according to FPI.  The Hoosiers will be looking for their first win in the series since 1987, and an early season defining victory much like the triumph they secured at Nebraska in 2019.

ESPN does not currently provide an estimate for the Purdue game.  Since Indiana is ranked higher and the game is in Bloomington, we gave that contest to the Hoosiers to push the FPI based regular season mark to 4-4.

The season will conclude on Dec. 19 with the so-called Big Ten champions week.  Indiana projects to have a chance to finish above .500 for the second straight season.

The Hoosiers will face the team from the Big Ten West that finishes in the same spot as IU in the East.  With the West more balanced than the East, the week nine opponent is difficult to predict.  The league has stated that it will attempt to avoid rematches in week nine, so facing Purdue on consecutive weekends appears unlikely.

A final game against anyone other than the Boilers and Wisconsin is possible as IU attempts to secure back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1994.

  • vs. Penn State (26.3%) 0-1
  • at Rutgers (81.4%) 1-1
  • vs. Michigan (49.8%) 1-2
  • at Michigan State (79.6%) 2-2
  • at Ohio State (8.6%) 2-3
  • vs. Maryland (90.5%) 3-3
  • at Wisconsin (16.5%) 3-4
  • vs. Purdue (percentage not provided) 4-4

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