2021 IU Schedule Preview and Record Prediction

The 2020 rendition of the Indiana Hoosiers football squad will go down as one of the most successful teams on the field and having overcome some of the biggest hurdles.  Covid rocked the college landscape which led to some unique atmospheres, forfeits, and drama. Following that turbulent season, the Hoosiers come into 2021 with arguably the highest expectations it’s seen since the first Bush Administration.  In this schedule preview, TD Hunter and I will give a key or two for each game and take a shot at predicting IU’s record this season

@ Iowa

TD: IU kicks off its season with a big win over Big Ten rival Iowa and all eyes will be on the return of Michael Penix Jr. Assuming he comes back ready and healthy, the Hoosiers should boast one of the better offenses in the conference. IU tends to have a tough time against the Hawkeyes and playing at Kinnick Stadium presents its challenges but IU’s opportunistic defense should keep Iowa at bay and give the Hoosiers a big win to start the season. 

Prediction: IU wins 28-20 (1-0)

Jake: Iowa is always a weird matchup for the Hoosiers.  IU has historically had an explosive enough offense to prevent Iowa from doing what they do best and turn the game into a rock fight.  I fear that Penix will take just a little too long to knock the rust off and Iowa will be able to win both sides in the trenches.

Prediction: IU loses 27-24 (0-1)

vs Idaho

TD: In the first home game of the season, the Hoosiers host the Idaho Vandals in what should be a relatively easy game for IU. Indiana outclasses Idaho at virtually every position and there’s no reason to think this should be a close one, but anything is possible in football. There is a chance IU loses focus and begins to look at a big game a week ahead and Coach Allen must do everything he can to keep his hungry team zeroed in on the task at hand. If all goes well, the Hoosiers could put this one away by halftime. 

Prediction: IU wins 45-13 (2-0)

Jake:  This is one of two true trap games early in the season.  However, there is no reason that this IU team should lose to Idaho in Bloomington in the first home game with fans in well over a year.  Would love for the Hoosiers to get up big and give Jack Tuttle some run in the second half.

Prediction: IU wins 52-17 (1-1)

vs Cincinnati

TD: In a big matchup, Cincinnati heads to Bloomington in a showdown between two ranked teams. The Bearcats return many of their starters that took them to the Peach Bowl last season, including quarterback Desmond Ridder, and will be a tough test for an IU team still looking to prove that its own success last year was not a fluke. It should be an exciting game but the Bearcats are just too complete of a team to topple and hand IU its first loss of the season. 

Prediction: IU loses 31-21 (2-1)

Jake:  Last time I checked, there are only single tickets available for this game in Bloomington.  This will be peak IU Football atmospheres as the Hoosiers welcome the Bearcats.  Cincinnati is lead by NFL Draft prospect Desmond Ridder and are also coming off of a great season that saw them in a New Years 6 bowl game.  It’s hard to say what numbers will matter but if IU can get pressure on Ridder and force some poor decisions, IU can win this game.  Expect a close one worth watching!

Prediction: IU wins 34-31 (2-1)

@ Western Kentucky

TD: I may be in the minority but I believe that Western Kentucky isn’t a bad team. A slew of new transfers should boost the offense and a strong defensive front should give this team a fighting chance in most games. Any team playing Western Kentucky could find themselves in a game that’s a little close for comfort. IU could be reeling from an emotional loss the previous week and traveling to an opposing stadium is never easy. Still, IU is just too talented and while the game is close for three quarters, the Hoosiers begin to pull away in the fourth and bounce back from their loss to Cincinnati. 

Prediction: IU wins 31-14 (3-1)

Jake:  Oh look, another trap game.  Western Kentucky is almost always solid and nearly beat the Hoosiers in Bloomington in 2015.  By now, the hope is that the trenches on both sides of the ball are starting to stabilize and Penix has knocked off all of the rust.  I can’t imagine that Tom Allen lets his team come out so flat that it costs them a win.

Prediction: IU wins 38-24 (3-1)

@ Penn State

TD: A year after their stunning loss to IU, the Nittany Lions will be seeking vengeance in a big way. Penn State returns a majority of their starters from last year and they all remember the last second heart breaker against the Hoosiers that began their season’s tailspin. Quarterback Sean Clifford enters his third season as the starter and the players around him are just as experienced, giving this offense potentially dangerous cohesiveness. I believe this is a game that IU gets humbled and Penn State moves on from its big loss last year. 

Prediction: IU loses 38-21 (3-2)

Jake:  I think the Hoosiers will find a way to win one of the big road games this year, but I struggle deciding which one.  Penn State turned their season around slightly at the end of the year after a terrible start in 2020.  However, their QB is still Sean Clifford.  So while Penn State fans may argue that the Nittany Lions are the better team on paper, IU is superior at the most important position.  Can IU win? Of course.  Will they? Meh.

Prediction: IU loses 34-28 (3-2)

vs Michigan State

TD: When a team has a big question at quarterback and questions all along the offensive line, that tends to be a recipe for disaster. IU absolutely dominated Michigan State in every facet of the game last year and there’s little to suggest that will change this year. Michigan State is still facing those same big questions despite over twenty new transfers coming in. Coach Allen, meanwhile, has his Hoosiers focused and the team is really finding itself and figuring out who they are at this point in the season. There’s little to doubt that the result this season will be much different from last season and IU gets a convincing conference win. 

Prediction: IU wins 34-10 (4-2)

Jake: Last year in East Lansing IU dominated the Spartans in almost every fashion and won in shut-out fashion. IU is returning almost every key piece from that team and while the Spartans will hopefully be better, it won’t be enough

Prediction: IU wins 31-17 (4-2)

vs Ohio State

TD: In my opinion, this is one of the more underrated rivalries in the country. IU always seems to play Ohio State tough and that has made for some thrilling games but the result is usually the same with OU coming out on top. Last year, the Hoosiers gave the Buckeyes fits in a close win for Ohio State and that really helped to quiet several of IU’s doubters. This year will be another big game as IU looks to prove that it belongs at the top of the conference but Ohio State is just too talented to get around. Ohio State remains at the pinnacle of the Big Ten and beat the Hoosiers in yet another exciting, back and forth affair. 

Prediction: IU loses 35-31 (4-3)

Jake:  In sports, you often hear about teams being “due”.  It’s not a real thing or the Cubs wouldn’t have waited over 100 years and the city of San Diego would have seen a championship team by now.  IU hasn’t beaten Ohio State since the whoopin they threw the Buckeyes in 1988.  Any advantage the Hoosiers could hypothetically have thanks to OSU’s roster turnover is erased by the game being in the middle of the season.  However, if IU can force turnovers like it did last year in Columbus, maybe Penix has some magic in that left arm of his and can make things interesting.

Prediction: IU loses 38-28 (4-3)

@ Maryland

TD: Maryland is a tough team to gauge because they should be better than what they actually are. Taulia Tagovailoa makes Maryland exciting and helps to keep defenses honest. The Terps also boast one of the better secondaries in the country, with every starter returning. Maryland gave IU some fits last year and this has “trap game” written all over it. IU will have trouble with this game, especially since it’s at Maryland but they still take the victory. 

Prediction: IU wins 24-21 (5-3)

Jake: As TD said, this is a weird one to prognosticate.  If Tagovailoa has been able to continue progressing in the offseason, the Terps will certainly be a pesky team this season.  This is one of those games where I feel team chemistry and coaching matter, and I just think IU wins in both of those categories.  IU’s defense travels well and gives Maryland and Tagovailoa just enough of a fit to limp home with a victory in yet another trap game.

Prediction: IU wins 27-20 (5-3)

@ Michigan

TD: This is a big game for both programs. A matchup that is later in the season, a win for either team could swing crucial momentum towards the victor. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has lacked consistency during his tenure at Michigan and the cries of Wolverines fans to can the high priced coach are getting louder. The offense is a little more experienced than it was last year and the defense shows plenty of potential. IU matches up well with Michigan but this is a better Wolverines team than we’ve seen the last few years. Michigan takes a close one in a major Big Ten rivalry game. 

Prediction: IU loses 27-21 (5-4)

Jake:  As I said earlier, I think IU wins one of its big road games this year.  Why Michigan? Well, they have yet another new quarterback with Milton transferring to Tennessee. Is that it? Of course not! They also weren’t able to defend the pass last year and unless things just randomly happened to change in the offseason, I don’t expect them to be much better this season! Unlike my counterpart, I expect a bit of a barn burner in this one.

Prediction: IU wins 35-31 (6-3)

vs Rutgers

TD: If IU ever needed a pick me up game, this is it. Going 1-2 over the last three weeks isn’t ideal but a home game against conference rival Rutgers could be just what the doctor ordered. Rutgers showed significant improvement last year in Greg Schiano’s return to the team and the Scarlet Knights are bringing back 19 starters, making this unit a bit more cohesive. Still, Rutgers is not close to IU in terms of talent and the hungry Hoosiers take this one in a game that turns things around for the team. 

Prediction: IU wins 37-14 (6-4)

Jake: IU comes off of a huge win in Ann Arbor and Tom Allens focus for the team is to come out strong.  Schiano’s teams at Rutgers have always been hard nosed and seem to overachieve based on expectations.  Schiano has also been able to upgrade the recruiting level since his return and there is a nice influx of new talent on this roster, mixed with plenty of returning starters.  I expect IU to come out flat and then claw their way back to a victory in the second half thanks to superior talent.

Prediction: IU wins 30-21 (7-3)

vs Minnesota

TD: This should be an enticing matchup as IU’s defense looks to stop one of the Big Ten’s most thrilling players in running back Mohamed Ibrahim. Ibrahim averaged an astounding 153.7 yards per game last season and added 15 touchdowns on top of that. He’ll be running behind an excellent and experienced offensive line which suggests he should have a repeat performance in 2021. If the Gophers can get above average quarterback play, this offense could be lethal. The defense is still a big question mark, especially in the secondary, and IU can exploit that to their advantage. The defense can stack the box in order to slow Ibrahim down unless Tanner Morgan can show some improvement. This should be a fun game against an exciting player but one that IU should handle. 

Prediction: IU wins 38-17 (7-4)

Jake: After 2 straight emotionally draining wins, it doesn’t stop here on senior day.  If IU really has taken the next step as a program, this is almost a guaranteed win regardless how much rowing of boats Minnesota does.  But I have a bad feeling Tanner Morgan and Ibrahim come out and punch the Hoosiers in the mouth and they just don’t have enough left in the tank to pull this one out.

Prediction: IU loses 31-27 (7-4)

@ Purdue

TD: There’s nothing like a big rivalry game to wrap up the season. The game wasn’t played last year so it’s good to see the Old Oaken Bucket game return. The records between these two teams never matter as this is one of the biggest games IU plays all season. In-state bragging rights over rival Purdue is of the highest importance for the Crimson and Cream faithful and IU has the talent to win this one easily. The Boilermakers have a few highly talented players that should keep this game interesting for a bit but in the end, IU has their number and keeps the Old Oaken Bucket in Bloomington. 

Prediction: IU wins 45-21 (8-4)

Jake: No special insight here…it’s just a good old fashioned rivalry here.  Numbers and records don’t matter.  There’s also only one result I’ll ever predict!

Prediction: IU wins 41-28 (8-4)

Final thoughts

Final records: TD and Jake both have the Hoosiers going 8-4

Both of us feel an 8-4 record is well within reach, which would send the Hoosiers to their 5th bowl game in 7 years.  This would also give the Hoosiers arguably the best 3 year stretch in the program’s history with a combined record of 22-11.  If Michael Penix can stay healthy and can be more efficient, the dream of #9Windiana is still alive and well for the Hoosier faithful!

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Jake Stilwell

Follow me on twitter @hoosiers_atb and @Stilwater87

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