Indiana went just 4-8 in 2012, but as far as a four win seasons go, it wasn’t all bad. Now, thanks to some positive aspects it showed last year and a favorable schedule, look for Indiana to improve in 2013, and who knows, maybe even go bowling.
Not the best resume you’ll find. But really, Indiana did have some bad luck. It lost four games by five points or less, an extremely touch draw. Teams don’t just lose four games by four points or less because they’re bad, they do that because they’re mediocre and have really awful luck.
In a small sample size, like 12 games for example, luck can make huge changes to a team’s final record, as shown by Indiana last year. Who knows, a couple plays go differently and the Hoosiers could have won six games and made a bowl.
A major reason Indiana struggled to win games last season was because of their awful defense. Not only did Indiana give up the most yards and points of any team in the Big Ten, it did it by a very significant figure. Indiana conceded over 47 more yards than the next worst team and over three more points than the next worst team.
The Hoosiers weren’t just the worst defense, they weren’t even close to not being the worst defense. One would think that things could only move up for Indiana’s defense, but then again, as they showed last season, things can always get worse.
The saving grace for the Hoosiers was their offense. They racked up the second most yards in the Big Ten and the fourth most points. Indiana had four backs rush for at least 150 yards, led by Stephen Houston with over 700 yards and 13 TDs. But it was not running the football that propelled Indiana’s offense, but the forward pass.
It averaged 312 passing yards per game, over 36 more yards than the next best team in the Big Ten. Three different QBs played for Indiana last year (Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld) and all found success, leading to the high flying offense. It didn’t hurt that Indiana averaged over 37 passes per game, over four more than the next highest volume passing offense in the Big Ten.
To summarize, Indiana had some bad luck, atrocious defense and a high flying offense. That won it four games. But what if the luck turns around for it, the defense improves to become just bad, not awful and Indiana can take advantage of their easy home schedule (Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue will visit Bloomington)?
Could this lead to six wins and a bowl game for Indiana? Well, if Indiana isn’t in a bowl in 2013, its defense either was once again historically bad and/or their poor luck bit them again. Either way, things should be interesting in 2013 for Indiana.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter @alexdaleCFB.