It's my favorite time of the year: Predicting the outcome of football and eventually basketball season.
I've done this every year that was with my former employer, the Indianapolis Star, covering IU football and basketball.
Generally my picks are within a win or two. Once in a while I've gotten real lucky. The cream of that crop was in 2007, when before the season started I said that IU would finish 7-5 in the regular season, would beat Purdue in the Bucket game on a last second Austin Starr field goal and would play in the Insight Bowl against Oklahoma State.
I really did. Go back and check. My boss at the time, Chris Wright, put something on the front page of the Star about my prediction the day after the bowl announcement was made. But without letting me enjoy the moment too much he also mentioned that I had predicted Illinois to finish last in the Big Ten. And the Illini, that season, went to the Rose Bowl.
So it's hit or miss. I don't claim to be the great prognosticator but I have fun with it and let's get into this year's predictions.
I think this is a tough season to predict. As always at this time of the year, people are expecting great things. And with the offensive firepower that Indiana has this season, you would think the Hoosiers should have a really good chance to go to a bowl game.
At the same time, I always remind myself of probably the most disappointing facts of all-time that I can think of when it comes to IU athletics. And that's the when IU had arguably college football's most exciting player on campus for four years with Antwaan Randle El, the Hoosiers never went to a bowl game. IU scored a ton of points but the defense couldn't stop anyone. Perhaps if Antwaan had played corner as well they may have had a chance. As it was he returned kicks and punts and even had a bunch of pooch punts, too.
So, I'm not sure if the 2013 season will be along that same line or if the defense has improved enough that IU's offense will be able to outscore some people.
I've gone back and forth between predicting 7-5 and 6-6. My gut tells me to go 6-6 because IU always seems to lose a non-conference game that it was expected to win. And this year's non-conference slate has some interesting opponents. Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri. Now, all four games are at home and that has to help, but it will still be a challenging schedule for Indiana football. That's just the way it is.
So, drum roll please, I'm going to take a chance and pick IU to go 7-5 and advance to just its second bowl game since 1993.
In order to do that, I have Indiana beating all four non-conference opponents, as well as Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue.
Here's my breakdown of the season including scores. I never really give too much thought to the scores as much as I'm thinking point spreads. And all of this is based on IU's key players staying healthy. That's always a factor that needs to be weighed in as well.
And if you look at my scores, I have the Hoosiers scoring 413 points (an average of 34.4 per game) and giving up 378 points (an average of 31.5). So it will clearly be a season where the IU offense likely has to be able to score a ton of points.
IU 52, Indiana State 24: Some are calling this a measuring stick game for the Hoosiers. I certainly think that's the case with how the defense fares against Shakir Bell, who ran for 192 yards against Indiana last season. If he goes off again, the score will be much closer.
IU 40, Navy 28: Indiana had this game won last year before allowing the Middies to rally and win. I think this time the Hoosiers will prevail.
IU 38, Bowling Green 21: This is a good Bowling Green team but I think momentum will start getting in IU's favor and the Hoosiers will be able to improve to 3-0.
IU 45, Missouri 31: I think the combination of a suspect Missouri defense and a quality IU offense will be the difference.
Penn State 34, Indiana 31: One statistic tells the whole story on this one. Penn State is 16-0 all-time against Indiana. That streak has to end sometime but will it be this season?
Michigan State 38, Indiana 21: IU's first road game isn't until October but back-to-back games with Michigan State and Michigan will be a tough pill to swallow.
Michigan 28, Indiana 23: IU has had some good games in the Big House and just missed an upset or two. IU leaves Ann Arbor with a 4-3 overall record and 0-3 in Big Ten play.
IU 49, Minnesota 34: Indiana hasn't played the Golden Gophers in a while which hasn't helped IU's chances of going bowling. Having Minnesota back this year will be a positive.
IU 29, Illinois 23: The Illini could be pretty beat up by this time of the year but it seems like these teams always have some good games regardless of records.
Wisconsin 48, IU 32: It's not 83 points like a few years ago but the Badgers have been beating IU like a drum the last several years and that will continue.
Ohio State 52, Indiana 28: Last year was about as entertaining as it could get as the Hoosiers made the late rally. The Buckeyes will have a lot to play for in this one.
IU 25, Purdue 17: Throw out the records. It's IU-Purdue. Should be a dandy.
Those are my picks. What are yours. I'll have a thread on the message boards for you to weigh in how you think the Hoosiers will fare. I'll also have a story up on Wednesday with predictions from the rest of my AllHoosiers.com staff.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch