My Two Cents: Condensed Schedule Still Provides Great Opportunities for Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana's 2020 football schedule has shrunk from 12 games to 10 and now — hopefully for the final time — down to eight games. But there has been one constant through all the rewrites.
The four behemoths on the schedule — Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin — are all still there.
That's scary, of course, but what it also does is giving Indiana an opportunity to make a statement — or two — and show that they are indeed a team on the rise in the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers won eight games a year ago for the first time in 26 years, and with 16 starters returning, Tom Allen and his team was looking to build on that momentum in 2020.
COVID-19 has flipped the script this year, of course, and it's impacted everyone, from football players and coaches to doctors and respiratory therapists and funeral directors. It's forced the Big Ten to take an on-again, off-again approach to the fall season, but now with a better grasp on things and a solid plan in place for daily testing, it's time to march forward.
And for Indiana, that means marching forward, too.
In that original 12-game schedule, the Hoosiers would have been underdogs in those games with the big boys. They were supposed to start their original 12-game schedule at Wisconsin, and that was still true in the revised conference-only schedule released in early August. They were supposed to play at Ohio State and Michigan, too.
This new schedule has changed the order of things, and a few locations, too. Now, Indiana will host Michigan instead of traveling to Ann Arbor, and they'll go back to East Lansing again to play Michigan State instead of hosting them.
Penn State at home is still there, and now it's the season opener on Saturday, Oct. 24. The Nittany Lions, ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press preseason poll, presents a golden opportunity right out of the gate for the Hoosiers.
Dreaming, you say? No chance, you say even louder?
Well, let's see.
It's easy to look back to last year's game with Penn State and have some hope, because the Hoosiers were in it from start to finish. Penn State eventually won 34-27, but Indiana was right there, even in the hostile environment that is Beaver Stadium
In the opener, in Bloomington, can it be different? Of course it can.
The naysayers who've watched a lot of Indiana football through the years have a hard time buying in, of course. The four games lost on the schedule — Western Kentucky, Ball State, Connecticut and Illinois — were probably all wins. Indiana certainly would have been favored in all four.
And with what's left, Indiana likely will be favored against Rutgers and Maryland, and probably against Michigan State and Purdue, too, depending on injuries and attrition during the course of a season.
They'll be underdogs against the big boys, but this is the first time in a long time that it seems like Indiana at least has a chance to pull off an upset. Their history against those programs is horrible, but these are indeed different times for Indiana. It is definitely a program on the rise.
So now we'll see. All you ever ask for in life is an opportunity, and Indiana certainly gets that.
An Oct. 24 can't get here soon enough.
I know I'm a glass half-full guy, but I can see Indiana pulling off at least one upset this year. They've got weapons on offense and a defense that growing up and getting better every year.
Bring it on.
Related stories on Indiana football
- ANOTHER SCHEDULE RELEASED : For the third time, the Big Ten has released a fall football schedule. Indiana opens its new eight-game season against Penn State on Oct. 24 in Bloomington. Here's the story. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA'S 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: To view Indiana's full 2020 football schedule, CLICK HERE
- TOM ALLEN ON RESUMPTION: Indiana coach Tom Allen talked about Indiana returning to the football field, and the high expectations his team has for a successful 2020 season. CLICK HERE