The Indiana Hoosiers were an explosive offensive team in 2015, and the play of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard helped make up for a porous defense.
While Indiana struggled for much of the Big Ten conference season, it still managed to make a bowl game but lost to Duke to finish under .500. The Hoosiers would love to build on that and pick up a bowl win for the first time since the early 1990s, but it will be an uphill battle with the departures of Sudfeld and Howard.
2015 Record: 6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS, 10-2-1 O/U
2016 Regular Season Win Total: 4.5
National Championship Odds: +20000
Big Ten Odds: +4000
Indiana started the 2015 season with a record of 4-0 and then pushed the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to the limit before succumbing, 34-27. That seemed to portend well for the rest of the season, but Indiana couldn’t get over the hump in the Big Ten, losing six straight to start conference play. The Hoosiers hung with top-15 teams Michigan and Iowa for most of the games but a lousy defense eventually allowed the Wolverines and Hawkeyes to pull out the wins.
Indiana’s offense averaged 36.5 points per game last season, which was the best in the conference and 24th in the nation. However, the defense gave up 37.6 points per contest, a truly awful number which was 118th out of 128 teams. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld was very good, throwing for 3,573 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while Jordan Howard added 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Devine Redding was another nice piece, running for more than 1,000 yards and also scoring nine times. SImmie Cobbs led the receiving core with 60 catches for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.
Marcus Oliver was the star of the defense with a team-best 112 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and six tackles for loss, but had little help around him. If Indiana’s defense was simply average it could have been a special season for the Hoosiers, but it resulted in another losing season instead.
The projected over-under win total for the Hoosiers sits at only 4.5 games despite some winnable home games. That’s because the offense has taken a big hit with the departure of quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard, both of whom were selected in the NFL draft. The Hoosiers feel OK at running back, as Devine Redding returns after playing well as the second banana in the backfield last season behind Howard. Redding ran for 227 yards on 35 carries in Indiana’s bowl game loss to Duke, and he would love to replicate that type of production in 2016.
The quarterback battle to replace Sudfeld is expected to feature former Oklahoma State walk-on Richard Lagow against Zander Diamont, with Lagow the favorite to start when the season begins. Whoever is the signal-caller will have a pair of nice weapons to get the ball to as Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones are both returning after nice seasons in 2015. The offense has to play well again for Indiana to have a shot at a bowl game.
The defense loses all four of its defensive linemen from last season, including Nick Mangieri, who finished his college career with a team-best 9.5 sacks in 2015. While safety Jonathan Crawford, cornerback Rashard Fant and linebacker Tegray Scales are back, the unit needs to improve greatly after being a sieve in 2015.
Indiana has some talented skill players returning, but with a new quarterback to break in and a defense with several question marks, a finish near the bottom of the Big Ten is expected in 2016.
Returning Starters Offense: 6
Running back Devine Redding returns after rushing the ball 226 times for 1,012 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015. He ran for 130, 144 and 227 yards over his final three games, which has resulted in high expectations heading into the season. However, the competition wasn’t great, and Redding will need to prove himself against the Big Ten’s best defenses.
Returning Starters Defense: 7
Safety Jonathan Crawford it the top returner after registering 76 tackles and a team-high four interceptions in 2015. However, the loss of leading tackle Marcus Oliver and top sack man Nick Mangieri takes away the two best players from a unit, which was poor in 2015.
Week 1: at FIU Golden Panthers, Thursday, September 1, 7:30 p.m. ET - ESPNU
Week 2: vs. Ball State Cardinals, Saturday, September 10, Noon ET - ESPNews
Week 3: OFF
Week 4: vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Saturday, September 24, TBD
Week 5: vs. Michigan State Spartans, Saturday, October 1, 8 p.m. ET - Big Ten Network
Week 6: at Ohio State Buckeyes, Saturday, October 8, TBD
Week 7: vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers, Saturday, October 15, 3:30 p.m. ET
Week 8: at Northwestern Wildcats, Saturday, October 22, 12 p.m. ET
Week 9: vs. Maryland Terrapins, Saturday, October 29, TBD
Week 10: at Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Saturday, November 5, TBD
Week 11: vs. Penn State Nittany Lions, Saturday, November 12, TBD
Week 12: at Michigan Wolverines, Saturday, November 19, TBD
Week 13: vs. Purdue Boilermakers, Saturday November 26, TBD
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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