The Hoosiers open this year's season Thursday with the hopes of playing beyond Nov. 27. After a season of almosts, this year we should find out if that was potential we saw last year or just typical IU football.
If the Hoosiers want to make post-season plans, they will have secure them early. They likely will have to win seven of their first eight games. Yes, that is a tall order, but the IU schedule is largely back-loaded with unwinnable games. It may be possible to be 7-1 heading into November.
The Pre-Conference Schedule
The good part about IU's opponents before the Big Ten schedule begins is that they should not be too tough to handle. The opener Thursday against Towson matches the Hoosiers against a team that won two games last season, but only one in conference. Quarterback Ben Chappell and the IU offense should have no problem overwhelming the Tigers.
The scene moves to Western Kentucky in week 2, the worst team in the football bowl subdivision, according to Rivals.com, and the loser of all 12 of its games last year. It's a road game, but again, the IU offense should overwhelm the Hilltoppers.
If Chappell, receiver Tandon Doss and running back Darius Willis are potential all-conference players (maybe not first-team, but second- or third-team), the Hoosier offense should not have a problem putting at least 35 points on the board in both games.
Akron comes to town in week 3, the traditional MAC pre-conference match-up IU loves to schedule. The Zips were rated higher than IU in the Rivals.com ranking, 88, but not by much (IU was rated 97). Home field advantage will come into play here. After two big wins to start the season, the momentum will begin to build and fans will come to Memorial Stadium. This game may end up a track meet, but IU should be able to outlast Akron to start 3-0.
Next: The conference schedule