The Indiana Hoosiers seem stuck in the middle – they win five or six games seemingly every year, right on the threshold between being a bowl team and staying home for the holidays. Last year, Indiana won five games, so it is natural that the over-under for this year’s regular season win total should be 5.5. That is exactly where Indiana hovers in most seasons. Will this team get six wins, or will it remain at five? That is the question Indiana football fans normally ask every offseason. It is the one they are asking again in 2018.
Indiana 2018 regular season win total
Odds courtesy of BetDSI Sportsbook.
What Happened Last Year
The Hoosiers won all three of their non-conference games. They ambushed Virginia and struck at a time when the Cavaliers’ offense was still developing. With three wins under their belt, the Hoosiers merely needed to go 3-6 in their nine-game Big Ten schedule to reach six total wins and go to a bowl game, but they couldn’t quite get there. Indiana beat the two worst teams on its conference schedule: Illinois and Rutgers. They couldn’t beat anyone else. It was a familiar story for a program which can’t seem to change the narrative surrounding its fortunes.
Every year, Indiana plays one or two close games against the really good teams in the Big Ten, but it can’t win those games. Last year, that game was against Michigan State. Indiana led for much of the game but settled for a field goal when it had a chance to get a two-possession lead. Naturally, the inability to get a touchdown and a multi-possession lead came back to haunt Indiana when Michigan State scored a go-ahead touchdown and ultimately won, 17-9. Indiana’s fortunes will change when it wins a close game against a really good team.
What Will Change This Year
Brandon Dawkins, a transfer from Arizona, will be the new starting quarterback. He has incredible speed but has a lot of trouble processing reads and seeing plays develop down the field. If the coaching staff can help Dawkins to see the game more clearly and not feel overwhelmed in reading the defense at the line of scrimmage before the snap, Indiana could develop a dangerous offense which will enable the Hoosiers to not only scare some of the better teams in the Big Ten, but to actually win a game against either Michigan State or Michigan, which would certainly put IU over its regular season win total.
Indiana’s offense had a hit-or-miss quality in 2017. Dawkins is a hit-or-miss quarterback, so getting more consistency from him is the key to the entire season.
Outlook & Prediction
The Hoosiers play Iowa and Minnesota in two of their crossover games against teams from the Big Ten West, plus archrival Purdue. They will have a good chance of beating Minnesota. They also play Rutgers and Maryland in their own division, the Big Ten East. Going 2-1 against the West and splitting the Rutgers-Maryland pair of games should put IU over the total, since non-conference games against Florida International and Ball State should go in the win column. Indiana doesn’t have to be perfect in the games it needs to win this year; it just has to win a majority. That is doable. Take the over.
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