BLOOMINGTON – The Big Ten released its revised 2020 football schedule Saturday.
For Indiana, coming off its best season since 1993, the challenge is to sustain success after posting a 5-4 conference record and 8-5 overall record last season. With 17 starters back, including All-Big Ten senior wide receiver Whop Philyor and starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr., there is hope the Hoosiers can continue to take steps forward in a competitive conference.
Here’s a breakdown of IU’s 2020 upcoming schedule, forecasting each game (note specific dates and times of each game have yet to be determined):
Oct. 23-24, Penn State: A big question will be whether linebacker Micah Parsons will opt back in and play for the Nittany Lions. But Penn State’s offense, led by quarterback Sean Clifford and tight end Pat Freiermuth, remains loaded. The game will feature two new offensive coordinators, Penn State’s Kirk Ciarrocca and Indiana’s Nick Sheridan, calling their first games with their respective teams. So there could be some hiccups offensively for both teams. IU’s offensive line will need to keep Penn State pass-rushing specialist Shaka Toney away from Penix.
Prediction: Penn State 24, Indiana 20
Oct. 30-31, at Rutgers: The hiring of Greg Schiano gives Rutgers hope for the future, but summer workouts were put on pause for the Scarlet Knights due to COVID-19 outbreaks within the team. That can’t bode well for a team trying to learn a new system. Nebraska transfer quarterback Noah Vedral has been brought in to lead the offense, but there remains uncertainty on both sides of the ball. If Indiana plays mistake-free football, it should be able to pull out its first win on the road.
Prediction: Indiana 38, Rutgers 7
Nov. 6-7, Michigan: Departed Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson tore up IU’s defense in his best game of last season. But Jim Harbaugh’s team always packs a strong offensive punch, and the Wolverines may be more comfortable in second-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ scheme. Senior Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins is a tough cover for any defense.
Prediction: Michigan 28, Indiana 20
Nov. 13-14 at Michigan State: From a momentum standpoint, this is the game that could make or break IU’s season. Like Rutgers, Michigan State is adjusting to a first-year coach, Mel Tucker. Like Rutgers, Michigan State had offseason COVID-19 outbreaks that put workouts on hold. The Hoosiers came oh-so-close to pulling out a game in East Lansing last year, and if not for a handful of special teams and defensive breakdowns, would have pulled the game out. With Brian Lewerke gone at quarterback, the Spartans won’t have an experienced signal-caller to rally them back this time around.
Prediction: Indiana 27, Michigan State 21
Nov. 20-21 at Ohio State: J.K. Dobbins and Chase Young are gone, but Ohio State returns quarterback Justin Fields and another loaded roster. There may be no fans at the Horseshoe to contend with, but the talent and depth of the Buckeyes roster is still overwhelming. IU lost 51-10 to Ohio State at home last season. It won’t be that lopsided this season, but …
Prediction: Ohio Stare 45, Indiana 17
Nov. 27-28, Maryland: Head coach Mike Locksley has recruited well at Maryland, but the talent remains young. Plus, a COVID-19 outbreak in September within the team can’t help matters. Taulia Tagovailoa is eligible to play quarterback immediately for the Terrapins after transferring in from Alabama, but unless he’s the second coming of his older brother, Tua, expect more growing pains for Maryland this season.
Prediction: Indiana 28, Maryland 10
Dec. 4-5, at Wisconsin: Originally, the Hoosiers were supposed to open the season at Wisconsin, which could have worked to IU’s advantage facing a team adapting offensively to the loss of standout running back Jonathan Taylor. By Week 7, though, Wisconsin should have a better handle on being able to move the football. The Badgers are always big and tough on the line of scrimmage, and even with no fans at Camp Randall Stadium, expect Wisconsin to eventually wear IU down.
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Indiana 13
Dec. 11-12, Purdue: Indiana took back the Old Oaken Bucket with a thrilling 44-41 overtime win last season. This season, the Hoosiers are at home, though the crowd won’t make a difference. What will is IU’s offense facing a porous Purdue defense. It’s hard to expect new Purdue defensive coordinator Bob Diaco to work miracles overnight. If Rondale Moore comes back, Purdue’s offense could be explosive, but games are won on both sides of the football.
Prediction: Indiana 42, Purdue 30
Dec. 18-19: Big Ten Championship Game, Seeded Games, TBD