Will this be the year Indiana climbs out of the Big Ten cellar?
Except for an awful performance by Penn State on the road in 2013, the Nittany Lions have completely owned the Indiana Hoosiers on the gridiron. Penn State has racked up 21 wins against just one loss to the Hoosiers. However, that doesn't mean that Indiana always represents an easy victory. A few of the games have been close, particularly the ones not played in Happy Valley. Penn State won 16-10 in 2011 and 33-28 last season in Bloomington.
This year's battle against the Hoosiers and the Nittany Lions will take place in Beaver Stadium, so that's a big boost for the home team.
Indiana began the 2018 season in great fashion, picking up three straight wins, including a solid victory over Virginia. Unfortunately, things went south in a big way when the Hoosiers hit Big Ten play. Their only conference wins came against Rutgers and Maryland, and they finished the year with an overall record of 5-7.
|Head Coach||Tom Allen (3rd full season with Indiana), 10-15 overall|
|2018 Record||5-7, 2-7 (6th B1G East)|
|Biggest Losses||LB Dameon Willis, S Jonathan Crawford, LB T.D. Roof,|
|Biggest Returnees||QB Peyton Ramsey, WR Nick Westbrook, RB Stevie Scott, DB Marcelino Ball, DB Bryant Fitzgerald|
|Summary||Indiana still has a lot of holes on the roster and a brutal schedule.|
|Matchup with PSU||While the fluke win and the close games all happened in Bloomington, the Hoosiers have struggled mightily inside of Beaver Stadium. Penn State is undefeated at home against Indiana, and that likely won't change this year.|
The Hoosiers struggled to score last year, putting up just 27 points per game. That's not going to get it done in the tough Big Ten East division. If there was a bright spot on offense though, it was the passing attack.
Indiana ranked 36th in the nation with an average of 258 yards per game. Peyton Ramsey completed 66% of his throws for 2,875 yards and 19 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was plagued by 13 interception.
Ramsey will be back this year and will look to improve upon his numbers.
Also back on offense will be leading rusher Stevie Scott (1,137 yards) and leading receiver Nick Westbrook (590 yards). Also returning is Donavan Hale, who led the Hoosiers with six touchdown receptions.
Just like the offense, the Indiana defense also had some problems last year. The Hoosiers allowed nearly 30 points a game and struggled to stop most opposing offenses, especially the passing game. Things may not be much better this year thanks to the fact that leading tacklers Jonathan Crawford and Dameon Willis are both gone.
Still, there was some improvement from past years, and there are nine starters returning for this season.
If there's a strength on Indiana's defense it will be the secondary.
Marcelino Ball plays the "husky" position - a hybrid safety/linebacker. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten a season ago and made 59 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Fellow defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald led the team with three interceptions as a redshirt freshman and could be one of the best defensive backs in the conference this year.
2019 Season Outlook
Just a few years back it looked like Indiana could be a program on the rise. However, that's not the current case. The Hoosiers are back to being one of the basement teams in the Big Ten East, and it doesn't appear that's going to change anytime soon.
Tom Allen has some talent and could put up enough points in some games to surprise some teams, but struggles on defense may prevent any big upsets.
After opening with two winnable game against Ball State and Eastern Illinois, the Hoosiers will have to face a brutal schedule that includes home games with Ohio State and Michigan and road games against Michigan State, Penn State, and Nebraska. Another five-win season looks to be in the cards for Indiana in 2019.