Indiana Betting Odds Preview
The Hoosiers haven't gone to a bowl since 2007, and haven't won a bowl since 1991. But they've gradually made some progress in their three seasons under head coach Kevin Wilson, mostly on offense, which has increased its production from 21 points and 360 yards per game in 2011 to 38 points and 509 yards per game last year.
However, Indiana has only gotten worse defensively, and that unit wasn't too hot to begin with. This year the Hoosiers return a whole bunch of starters, and seem to have enough winnable games on the schedule to get back to a bowl – if they can get some help from that defense.
Indiana began last year 3-2, with a win over Penn State, but then lost three in a row, falling at eventual conference champion Michigan State, in a close game to Michigan (trailed by two halfway through the fourth quarter) and in a heart-breaker against Minnesota, in which the Hoosiers fumbled inside the Gophers' 10-yard line with half a minute to go. Indiana then beat Illinois, but needing two wins in their last three games to become bowl-eligible they lost to Wisconsin and Ohio State, before beating Purdue.
So the Hoosiers finished 5-7 both SU and ATS, and with a 3-5 record in Big Ten play that could easily have been 4-4.
This year Indiana returns 17 starters, tied for the most in the conference. The offense gets eight starters back, including two quarterbacks, the passer Nate Sudfeld and the more mobile Tre Roberson, who combined for 4,000 total yards and 40 touchdowns last year, leading rusher Tevin Coleman and all five along what could be one of the best offensive lines in the conference. And nine starters return on defense, so maybe that unit can cut down on the 530 yards per game it coughed up last year.
The Hoosiers play road games this year at Bowling Green (early-season favorites to win the MAC East), Missouri, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State, but get five very winnable home games, plus a Homecoming match with Michigan State. And they miss Wisconsin (who's killed them in recent seasons), Northwestern and Nebraska.
Indiana is going to score a lot of points, again, and hopes some progress can be made on defense. This is a veteran squad, and with a handful of wins at home, and a win or two on the road, the Hoosiers could go bowling.
Big Ten Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Ohio State 10/11
Michigan State 15/4
It's been a long time since Indiana fans eagerly awaited the football season, but Hoosier faithful believe something might be brewing in Bloomington this fall. That's what winning four games, like the Hoosiers did last year, means to IU. Indiana has posted just one winning season in the last 18 years, but with eight home games the Hoosiers have a shot at another one this year. Contending in the Leaders Division is too much to ask, but breaking a six-year bowl drought isn't.
Indiana had 15 starters back last year from a team that went 1-11 in its first season under new coach Kevin Wilson, so improvement wasn't just expected, it seemed inevitable. The only way to take a step back would have been to go winless. In fact, Indiana topped its previous season's win total in its first two games, beating Indiana State and UMass.
The Hoosiers then lost on a last-second FG to Ball State, then began Big Ten play by getting blown out by Northwestern. But IU then blew a halftime lead and lost by four points to Michigan State, then fell by three points to Ohio State, then blew another lead and lost by one point to Navy. The Hoosiers then did something they hadn't done since 2007; they won back-to-back Big Ten games, beating Illinois and Iowa.
At 2-3 in conference play IU actually had a chance to win the Leaders Division, but Wisconsin put an end to those pipe dreams with a 62-14 bombing at Memorial Stadium. Indiana then lost to Penn State and Purdue, giving up 101 more points in the process, to finish at 4-8 overall, 2-6 in conference play, and 6-6 ATS. By the numbers the Hoosiers threw for more yardage than any other team in the Big Ten last year, which is something, but they were terrible in time-of-possession, because they threw the ball 550 times and the defense couldn't get off the field. This year Indiana returns 19 starters, most in the Big Ten.
Ten starters are back on offense, including three quarterbacks who combined for a 24/13 TD/INT ratio last year, leading rusher Stephen Houston, five guys who caught at least 37 balls last season, and four of the big boys up front. And nine starters return on a defense that led the conference in tackles-for-loss last year, including the entire back seven. Indiana begins this season with five straight home games, of which they should win at least three.
In Big Ten play the Hoosiers host Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue, and if they want to get to a bowl they'd better win most of those games, because they also have to visit Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. Realistically Indiana has about seven winnable games on its slate.
Big Ten Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 5
Ohio State -115
Michigan State +800