We're less than a week from kick-off. Most fans know this season is important for the future of the program, maybe more important than last season's drive to play 13. This is the validation year, the chance to prove last year was no fluke. The full schedule is here, and here are my predictions, game by game:
Game 1 -- Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers are known more for basketball than football. But this team could surprise the Hoosiers, especially in week one. The team is coming off a 7-5 season and has 14 returning starters. ESPN thinks WKU will scare someone this year, but in their seven wins last season, the Hilltoppers beat no one of consequence. They lost to Ball State and Indiana State, teams IU took care of with relative ease. I think the Hoosiers will win this game.
Game 2 -- Murray State
The Racers play in Division I-AA and really shouldn't be in the Hoosiers league. They were 2-9 last year and have a new coach this year. The Hoosiers offense should overpower this team, taking them to 2-0.
Game 3 -- Ball State
This match-up has trap game written all over it. The Hoosiers had trouble with the Cardinals last year (I was at the game). The teams traded scores in the first half before IU pulled away. Ball St. QB Nate Davis was impressive running their spread offense. Davis passed for nearly 3,700 yards and accounted for 30 touchdowns.
IU Coach Bill Lynch should have the team ready, however, and barring injury, the IU defense should make the difference here. IU wins and goes to 3-0.
And now on to Big Ten season.