The Staff Predictions

Two of our writers think Indiana will beat Penn State for the first time in history. Another one thinks the Hoosiers will knock off Ohio State in Columbus. Here are the 2013 IU football predictions from the staff.

Here's what the staff thinks will happen with Indiana football this season.

In my IU Insider Blog from Tuesday, IU Insider Blog: Football Season Prediction, I predicted that Indiana would go 7-5 this season. I went back and forth between 7-5 and 6-6 before convincing myself that the Hoosiers could indeed run the non-conference slate.

Justin Albers picks the Hoosiers to win their first five games and then two of their final seven to finish also finish 7-5. Joe Popely went with 7-5 as well and Nolan Blair went out on a limb with an 8-4 prediction for the Hoosiers.

As for a game-by-game breakdown, here's how the staff sees 2013 turning out:

Aug. 29: Indiana State

Albers picks a "decisive" 38-17 victory, Popely doesn't give scores but predicts a 10-17 point IU victory margin and Blair expects Shakir Bell to have a good night but says one player can only do so much. He predicts Indiana will win 41-17.

Sept. 7: Navy

It's pretty close to a consensus here as well. Despite the fact that Indiana dropped a 31-30 decision to Navy last season, a game where the Hoosiers squandered a nine-point lead in the final 6 minutes, all three writers expect Indiana to win by 10 or more this time around. Popely says IU by two touchdowns. Albers goes with 34-24 and Blair with 35-24. As Blair points out, this will be Navy's season opener and he feels IU will take advantage of the first game mistakes. I went with 40-28 Hoosiers.

Sept. 14: Bowling Green

There's a difference in opinion with Bowling Green but the question isn't if IU will win but by how much. Albers believes IU's offense will be too potent in a 41-21 win. Popely thinks it will be closer citing the fact that the Falcons allowed just 17 points per game last season. He thinks Indiana wins by no more than 10 points. Blair goes with Popely's reasoning and takes IU to win 31-27. He said watching Bowling Green play Florida last year made him nervous.

Sept. 21: Missouri

Finally, we have a disagreement. What is agreed up on is that everyone expects it to be close. Albers predicts IU will score a late touchdown in a 34-31 win. Blair is thinking shootout in a wild 48-45 victory. Popely thinks the IU defense will just have too much trouble with Missouri's spread offense and fall to the Tigers by a touchdown. So to recap, Albers and Blair are thinking 4-0 after the non-conference season and Popely is going with 3-1. I also had the Hoosiers 4-0 after the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Oct. 5: Penn State

Two staffers are expecting something that has never happened before in history to take place on this day at Memorial Stadium. Penn State is 16-0 all-time against the Hoosiers in football but that doesn't stop both Albers and Popely from picking IU to win its Big Ten opener. Albers admits it could go either way but takes Indiana 24-23. Popely points to Penn State's unproven status at quarterback and its recent loss of scholarships as taking a toll in a Indiana victory by a touchdown. Blair calls it a letdown game after the non-conference season in a 30-21 loss.

Oct. 12: at Michigan State

In the first road game of the season, there are no believers on the staff. Popely says IU hangs around but Michigan State wins on a last second field goal. Albers goes with 31-23 Spartans. Blair believes this will be the only game where Indiana is blown out all season, losing 38-17. I was in Blair's camp with a 38-21 Michigan State prediction.

Oct. 19: at Michigan

I think everyone agrees with their predictions on this one that Michigan may have too much talent for the Hoosiers. Popely calls it for Michigan by at least 10 points, citing that the Hoosiers haven't won in Ann Arbor since 1967. Albers thinks the Wolverines by two touchdowns, going with a 38-24 final score. And Blair is thinking the same way, picking Michigan to win 42-31.

p>Nov. 2: Minnesota

All three writers like Indiana to bounce back at the Homecoming game against Minnesota, an opponent that hasn't been on the IU schedule since 2008. Blair picks a 48-38 Indiana victory claiming a Gophers defense with six returning starters will have trouble with a potent IU offensive group. Popely agrees with a 10-point Indiana spread. Albers expects a little bit more with IU winning 31-17.

Nov. 9: Illinois

And we have another difference of opinion. Blair is thinking blowout city. He has Indiana winning 42-14. Popely also expects the Hoosiers to win by two touchdowns. But Albers obviously subscribes to the theory that Indiana always loses at least one game in a season that it should have won. This would be it. Albers picks Illinois to win 23-21.

p>Nov. 16: at Wisconsin

Popely prefaces this one by saying that he thinks Indiana could actually win this game. But ultimately he takes the Badgers by 10. Blair thinks Indiana can hang around until the fourth quarter before dropping a 35-24 decision. The problem for Albers I believe is that Justin and I rode up to Wisconsin together on Nov. 13, 2010 on a rainy, miserable day in Madison. That was also the day that Wisconsin beat IU 83-20, a loss that probably sealed Bill Lynch's fate. I'm certain that game still has something to do with Albers' prediction of 41-17 Badgers this time around.I went with 48-32 as Wisconsin just seems to be able to name its number offensively when they play Indiana.

at Ohio State

Breaking news: Apparently Blair isn't believing all the Ohio State hype as being a national title contender. Not only does he have Indiana playing close to the Buckeyes, but he has Indiana winning 27-24. Wow. In my prediction column Tuesday, I picked Ohio State to win 52-28. Albers is in the same place with a 44-20 Buckeyes win. Popely likes Ohio State by two touchdowns as he claims Indiana's defense can't stop another good option quarterback.

November 30: Purdue

Albers and Popely both call this one for Indiana by a field goal. Albers is thinking 27-24 and Popely just thinks it will be a late field goal. Blair thinks Purdue will be too beat up and IU will prevail 41-24. I picked IU to win 25-17. That just sounds like an IU-Purdue score.

Popely offered an explanation of his thought process on his picks.

"To be honest, it scares me to make a 7-5 prediction for Indiana football. I've been burned by such optimism before. But the defense only has to be marginally better to support an offense that **should** have more balance and **should** put up more points this season. I have the Hoosiers losing all of their road games, but eight home games balances that out. I would not be surprised if Indiana goes one game either way to finish 6-6 or 8-4."

That's what my guys think. What do you think? We'll have a thread on the message boards where IU fans can weigh in with their predictions.

Jump in and make a prediction but just do so before kickoff Thursday night with Indiana State. Anybody can make picks after the season begins. The most interesting ones are the ones that are done before the action ever gets underway.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Top Stories