The Indiana Hoosiers have been to just one bowl game since 1994 and finished just 4-8 in 2012 despite having the top passing attack in the Big Ten. There is an excellent opportunity for the Hoosiers to end their postseason drought with loads of talent returning in 2013 and a favorable non-conference schedule that should get them close to bowl eligible. The key to their chances of going bowling, however, could come down to their early season non-conference tilt against the Missouri Tigers.
Missiouri comes to Indiana on September 21 in the Hoosiers’ fourth game of the season to wrap up their non-conference schedule. Before that, Indiana has three very winnable non-conference games against the Indiana State Sycamores, Navy Midshipmen and Bowling Green Falcons. If the Hoosiers come to play in those games, they should host the Tigers with a 3-0 record with momentum on their side and an opportunity to push their record to 4-0 before entering the buzz saw that is their conference schedule.
Indiana will open the Big Ten season hosting the Penn State Nittany Lions who were eight-game winners a season ago in Bill O’Brien’s first season. Then Indiana must travel to take on the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines in back-to-back weeks. They finish up their season with two of their final three games on the road to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison and the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.
That is not a schedule conducive to turning a struggling program around. In all, Indiana has three conference games that they will have a good chance of competing in and possibly winning when they get the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Illinois Fighting Illini and Purdue Boilermakers at home. Wins are not guaranteed, though, as Indiana dropped their rivalry game to Purdue last season in a 56-35 embarrassment. Winning two of the three, however, would be a major accomplishment and is pretty feasible.
So Indiana may only be able to win two conference games next season, matching their win total in the conference from 2012. That means that they would have to sweep their non-conference schedule to be bowl eligible, and that sweep will hinge on whether or not they can beat Missouri. So will Indiana go bowling in 2013? We may find out September 21.