After three weeks, the Hoosiers prospects for this season appear to be getting better. At 3-0, Indiana will face their toughest opponent so far: undefeated Michigan at the Big House.
The next two weeks don't appear promising. After heading to Ann Arbor, Mich., Ohio State comes to Bloomington. But after those two games, there may be another three or four wins out there. Dare I say it: Indiana may play in a bowl game this year. A far cry from my opinion heading into the season.
In week six, the Hoosiers play at Virginia, which I thought would be a sure loss. But Virginia has been awful so far this season. The Cavaliers are 0-3, including an opening week loss at home to William and Mary. After a bye this week, Virginia should lose at North Carolina and be 0-4 when they play IU. While I don't like the Hoosiers coming to town with Virginia still looking for that first win, the Cavs certainly are beatable.
The Hoosiers then get Illinois at home. Before the season began, experts thought the Illini may be a dark horse conference title contender, but after another beating by Missouri and an injury to quarterback Juice Williams, Illinois looks a lot more human.
Then Indiana travels to Evanston, Ill. to take on Northwestern, which lost to Syracuse on Saturday. I thought this was a sure loss as well, but the Wildcats have been anything but impressive since their blow-out of FCS school Townson.
The Bucket Game once again may hold the key to the post-season. Purdue will come to Bloomington and did not look good the last two weeks in losses at Oregon and to Northern Illinois.
That's four more potential wins, another 7-5 season, and almost surely a bowl bid.
None of those four games are locks, especially if the games against Michigan and Ohio State go badly. If IU can maintain some confidence after that difficult two weeks, wins will come. I think it's more likely IU wins three of these four games and finishes 6-6. Then a bowl game is not assured, but it would create some momentum for next year.
Could IU fans actually have expectations heading into the 2010 season?