If Indiana bounces back in 2022, they will have earned it.
In what could be the last year of division play in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers have the most difficult schedule in the conference according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).
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 model ranks IU No. 66 in the country overall and predicts 4.3 wins in 2022, and 7.7 losses.
Four teams from East Division sit atop the Big Ten in the FPI model — Ohio State (No. 2 nationally), Michigan (7), Penn State (12) and Michigan State (16).
Of course Indiana faces all four of those East teams, and that plays a major role in the FPI’s determination that the Hoosiers have the toughest schedule in the Big Ten, and the No. 10 schedule in the country.
Another major factor in Indiana’s schedule ranking is a nonconference road game at Cincinnati. The Bearcats, who reached the College Football Playoff in 2021, are No. 32 in the FPI. Nonconference foe Western Kentucky, who pushed IU to the limit in 2021, is ranked one spot higher than Indiana.
If the Hoosiers are to reach a bowl game in 2022, it will largely depend on how they perform early in the season when the schedule provides an opportunity for a fast start. But save for a week two game against FCS opponent Idaho, nothing projects to be easy this season.
Here is Indiana’s full schedule with the FPI ranking of each opponent:
Sept. 2 – Illinois (73)
Sept. 10 – Idaho (NR – FCS)
Sept. 17 – Western Kentucky (65)
Sept. 24 – at Cincinnati (32)
Oct. 1 – at Nebraska (35)
Oct. 8 – Michigan (7)
Oct. 15 – Maryland (43)
Oct. 22 – at Rutgers (83)
Nov. 5 – Penn State (12)
Nov. 12 – at Ohio State (2)
Nov. 19 – at Michigan State (16)
Nov. 26 – Purdue (44)
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