This is a 12-to-1 countdown of Iowa’s most-appealing football games this season. No. 1 is the most-appealing. We started with No. 12 Ball State. Purdue was No. 11, Northern Iowa No. 10, Iowa State No. 9. All previous posts in this countdown can be found here.
No. 8 — Indiana (Oct. 11, Iowa City)
Someday, Indiana will have a Big Ten defense. The law of averages says it is so.
Last season, the Hoosiers were outgained by 71 yards per game in the conference, and that was an improvement.
Indiana scored 35 points against Navy. And lost. It scored 39 points against Minnesota. And lost. It scored 47 points (and gained 751 yards!) at Michigan. And lost.
Win just one of those games, and you’re 6-6 and headed to your first bowl since 2007 and second since 1993.
Well, this is a veteran team, and maybe the defense tightens up enough to put the Hoosiers over the hump. Because Kevin Wilson can coach offense. His guys averaged 38.4 points per game in 2013. That’s pretty good, folks.
Of course, averages can be deceiving. If you put one hand on a fire and the other hand inside a block of ice, the two hands will average total comfort. Indiana managed just three points at Wisconsin and 14 at Ohio State. But it had 73 against Indiana State.
Although Iowa and Indiana were in opposite divisions for the three years of Legends and Leaders (yes, the league’s divisions were actually called Legends and Leaders), last season was the first time the two didn’t meet since 2004. They’re still in opposite divisions (East and West), but they again play each other this fall.
From Iowa’s point of view, it’s better than facing Ohio State. Or Michigan State. Or probably Penn State or Michigan. But this is one of those games that people probably hang on the ‘W’ side of Iowa’s column with out contemplating that Indiana may not be an automatic ‘W’ even for the kingpins of the East.
From a compelling point of view, though — and that’s how we’re doing this countdown — I’ll need to see Indiana blast out of the gates before getting too excited about their October visit to Kinnick Stadium.
Somehow, Indiana is the rare team from a Power Five conference that has just six home games. It is playing at both Bowling Green and Missouri in September. The two were a combined 26-6 last season. If the Hoosiers can split those two games and defeat Maryland in Bloomington on Sept. 27, then the game in Iowa City will be a little more enticing.
Of course, IU also has to fend off Dan McCarney’s North Texas squad Oct. 4 in Bloomington. The last time the Hoosiers played the Mean Green was 2011 in Texas, and Indiana came home with one of its 11 losses that year.
Indiana football doesn’t have a national image or a national accomplishment. So no matter that this may be one of the five or six best teams Iowa will play this regular-season, it’s still just No. 8 on this countdown.