Nobody ever expects much out of Indiana football. Indiana is a basketball state and school.
But the Hoosiers are coming off a fine season — yes, in football — in which it finished 6-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers were actually ranked seventh in the country before an upset loss to Mississippi in the OutBack Bowl.
So, they undoubtedly have something off which to build. And expectations are high.
Along with a bevy of top returnees for Coach Tom Allen, the Hoosiers boast a “parade of transfers,” as pointed out by Nathan Baird of Cleveland.com. Three were top 100 prospects coming out of high school.
The list of impressive newcomers includes: Running back Stephen Carr (USC), receiver D.J. Matthews Jr. (Florida State), defensive end James Handy (Auburn), defensive end Ryder Anderson (Ole Miss) and offensive lineman Zach Carpenter (Michigan).
Of course, the Hoosiers compete in the same Big Ten East Division as perennial power Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are again expected to be stacked following a run to the national championship game. They actually visit Indiana on Nov. 6. And given the Hoosiers’ surge, that game could mean a lot.
“Sure, OSU is still one of the teams ahead of IU with six top-10 picks,” Baird wrote. “But if these transfers help the Hoosiers take another step, that Nov. 6 game in Bloomington becomes the biggest in the Big Ten.”
Is it finally time for Indiana to believe it can be a true football contender? It’s starting to sound as if, yeah, that may indeed be the case.