The Indiana football team had a breakthrough year in 2019 and will look to continue that into 2020. Where do they stack up with the rest of the Big Ten East?
Signing day has come and gone and college football fans can start dreaming about the 2020 season. It’s a long eight months off without football but it gives everyone plenty of time to argue which teams and conferences are the best.
For Indiana fans, it’s an offseason where they can start to dream big. The Hoosiers are coming off their best season in over a decade and are looking to build off that momentum. They won eight regular-season games and finished with a winning conference record for the first time since 1993 and came within five minutes of having their first bowl win in over 20 years also.
The offseason started with a bit of a blow as starter turned backup turned starting quarterback Peyton Ramsey entered his name into the transfer portal. With MIchael Penix Jr hopefully returning to form after an injury ended his season, Ramsey looked like the odd man out yet again.
The Hoosiers should still be a good team with Penix coming back and his go-to receiver Whop Philyor also returning. The offense shouldn’t be a problem for Indiana.
The season has three winnable non-conference games against Western Kentucky, Ball State, and UConn. They should easily be 3-0 in those games.
So the question that needs to be asked is how do they stack up in what really matters, the Big Ten East. In quite possibly the toughest division in all of college football, the Hoosiers are looking to make a climb. But can they do it?
Ohio State returns Justin Fields but loses JK Dobbins from the backfield and Chase Young on defense but with a top-five recruiting class yet again the Buckeyes are going to be the unquestioned favorite of the Big Ten.
Penn State is returning their quarterback Sean Clifford along with a trio of great running backs and will again be tough. But the Hoosiers played right with them on the road last year. Could this be the year they make that jump and clip the Nittany Lions?
Michigan will be breaking in a new quarterback after the graduation of Shea Patterson, but they were fairly young and return almost all of their skill players. They should also be tough on defense. They look like the team of the top three that Indiana is closing in on, but they still haven’t beat the Wolverines since 1987.
Michigan State is the team that the Hoosier may have passed. Yes, Indiana lost to them in 2019, but they had a chance late and the Spartans have trended downward since then while the Hoosiers have headed up. The bombshell that might kill Michigan State this year is the sudden resignation of head coach Mark Dantonio. It was a curious time for the Dantonio to step down and it will be interesting to see who takes over in East Lansing. This year could definitely be a year of transition and give the Hoosiers a real shot to jump them.
Maryland and Rutgers are both trying to bounce back after really rough years in 2019. Rutgers brought back Greg Schiano to take over the Scarlet Knights, but it still looks like he is years away at the earliest to get them back to respectability. Maryland, on the other hand, looked like they just completely quit halfway through the year after being ranked after two impressive wins early. They did deal with some injuries but are they ready to make a jump? It doesn’t look like it yet.
The Hoosiers look better than Maryland and Rutgers on paper right now and an argument could be made about Michigan State also. They are definitely behind Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan on paper, but do they have enough to jump them and pull off an upset.
They do have a tough opening night game against Wisconsin, but if they could pull an upset their they might be on their way to unthinkable heights.
On the surface, the Hoosiers look right now like the fourth-best team in the East. It might not sound like a lot but with the division as stacked as it is, it is not a horrible place to be.
The good news for the Hoosier fans is that the football team looks like they are a lot closer to Penn State and Michigan then they do to Maryland and Rutgers. Now they just have to go out and prove it.