IU Insider Blog: Tough Road Ahead

If Indiana could have gone 3-1 in the non-conference season the optimist could have looked at the schedule and found three games in conference play that IU could win and get bowl eligible. But four? That's a much different animal.

When I looked at the non-conference schedule before the season began, I actually thought Indiana had a chance to go 4-0 in non-conference play.

I thought IU's offense was potent and that the defense was significantly better.

But with Indiana football, you know not to get ahead of yourself. And so I predicted a 3-1 non-conference finish.

Still, even at 3-1, I thought there were three opponents on the Big Ten schedule that Indiana had a realistic shot at beating. The three I was thinking at the time were Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue.

With IU now at 2-2, however, it's really difficult to imagine this team winning four Big Ten games.

Or is it?

That's the big question right now as Indiana limps into the bye week of the schedule coming off of Saturday night's 45-28 loss to Missouri.

On one hand, it's difficult to picture Indiana winning four Big Ten games. Why? Well for starters, history is clearly not on Indiana's side. The last time IU won four Big Ten games was 2001. Before that it was 1994. It's just no easy task.

On the other side of the ledger though is a Big Ten schedule that doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of anyone. How good is Penn State? What about Michigan State? You would think Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin would be games you wouldn't win, but beyond that who knows?

The problem is that if you're thinking that way, you have to think that Indiana would need to win four of those five games in order to become bowl eligible.

And that's where it gets a little harder to believe it could happen.

I do think Indiana football is making strides. I just don't know if those strides are big enough to expect this team to win four Big Ten games.

We'll know soon enough. After the bye week in the schedule, Indiana opens conference play with a home against Penn State followed by back-to-back road games against Michigan State and Michigan. You would think IU would need to win at least one of those games to keep a glimmer of hope alive at a bowl season.

Lose all three and you're 2-5, on a four-game losing streak, and it's going to be tough to convince your own players that it could happen. And you would have to beat all but one remaining opponent on your schedule and two of those opponents would be road games at Wisconsin and Ohio State.

You get the idea.

And this is why winning at least three games in the non-conference portion of the schedule was so important. Because now, looking ahead and trying to find four teams that Indiana can beat is a daunting task.

Could it happen? Of course it could. Is it a reasonable bet? Probably not.

The reality here is that Indiana just made its road ahead a whole lot tougher by going 2-2 in non-conference play.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

Peegs.com Top Stories