Aug 30, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers fans during the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Memorial Stadium. Indiana won 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Football: It's a Bye Week for Hoosier Players, Not Fans

A bye-week for the Indiana Hoosiers football squad? On the second weekend of the season? Tortuous. I know.

But if you’re a Hoosier football fan, there’s still plenty to watch for this upcoming weekend. Indiana’s next two opponents both had somewhat surprising first weeks (surprising is definitely not the word Bowling Green fans would use) and play in games that should reveal a great deal about the “winnability” of the next couple games for IU.  A 3-0 start heading into a home game against Maryland doesn’t sound too bad does it? Here’s what any well-informed IU fan will be keeping an eye on this weekend:

Can Bowling Green Bounce Back?

This time last week, Bowling Green fans had to be feeling good about the 2014 season. The Falcons were the preseason favorites to win their conference and their QB, Matt Johnson, was selected as the first team QB for the All-MAC team.

Oh, how quickly things can change.

Dec 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Bowling Green Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson (11) is tackled by Northern Illinois Huskies defensive tackle Anthony Wells (91) in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons were absolutely blown out of the water in their opening game against Western Kentucky by a final tally of 59-31. After the dust settled on the first weekend of college football, the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky sat ahead of the likes of Texas A&M and Penn State as the number one passing offense in the country while the Falcon defense ranked dead last in points allowed. Obviously, these rankings are just based on one game and don’t serve much statistical purpose other than to demonstrate how badly Bowling Green (especially their defense) played.

As if that wasn’t demoralizing enough, on Wednesday, news broke Johnson would miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a hip injury during the game.

Suddenly, next Saturday’s game for the Hoosiers at Bowling Green doesn’t seem as daunting as it did a few short weeks ago. Still, fans should definitely keep an eye on the Falcons as they try to bounce back against the Virginia Military Institute. BGSU should have no problem winning the game, but it will be interesting to see how new QB James Knapke handles his the starting role. The Fort Wayne, Ind. native is just a redshirt sophomore, and his current college stat-line is as follows: 4-10, 71 yards, 1 TD. Still, he was a 3-star guy coming out of high school, and IU fans will want to see what kind of team they can expect to face next week: a deflated squad throwing in the towel or unit with a chip on their shoulder looking to rebound.

Is Missouri Really That Good?

Most Hoosier fans already have September 20th’s game at Faurot Field against the defending SEC divisional champs marked as a loss on the schedule. However, the 24th ranked Tigers’ debut last week was fairly unimpressive against FCS opponent South Dakota State. While Mizzou ended up winning the game by 20 points, their defense allowed Zach Zenner of the Jackrabbits to eclipse 100 yards rushing with two TDs and QB Zach Lujan to complete 21 of his 28 pass attempts.

Nov 20, 2013; Toledo, OH, USA; Toledo Rockets running back Kareem Hunt (3) runs the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies during the second quarter at Glass Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

How will the Tigers fare this week against much stiffer competition as they face the Toledo Rockets? The game was close last year as Mizzou was able to squeak by at home, but this year they travel to Toledo and the Rockets appear to be a much improved team, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. If the Tigers had trouble last week against the Jackrabbit offense, stud running back Kareem Hunt and new QB Phillip Ely could cause major problems. Hunt, a 3-star recruit with Power 5 Conference offers, takes over at running back this year and had 136 yards and 2 TDs in the season opener. Ely is an Alabama Crimson Tide transfer and impressed in his debut last week to the tune of 337 passing yards and 4 TDs.

This game is going to be close. “Upset special selection” close. If you’ve already dismissed the Hoosiers’ chances against their SEC foe, do yourself a favor and tune into ESPN at noon on Saturday. You might find yourself feeling slightly more optimistic.

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