The Indiana Hoosiers might have pleasantly surprised a few people last year, finishing with a 5-7 record and an impressive home victory against Penn State.
However, their offense was (at times) able to mask their absolutely abysmal defense. They surrendered 38.8 points per game, which was 117th in the entire country.
Their defense probably won't be much better than it was a year ago. Unfortunately, their offense will probably take a step back.
Cody Latimer was one of the best kept secrets in the entire country a year ago. With 72 catches for almost 1,100 yards, he was one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the country. He was certainly the motor that powered Indiana's offense.
After losing Latimore to graduation, expect the Indiana offense to regress a little bit. When your defense gives up almost 40 points a game, you can't afford for your offense to take any steps back if you expect to win.
This looks like a recipe for a long season in Bloomington.
8/30 vs. Indiana State: W
The Hoosiers get their annual "gimme" to start off the season. Indiana State is an FCS team that went 1-11 a season ago. This should be a breeze for Indiana, and will give the Hoosiers a little big of swagger heading into an early bye week.
9/13 at Bowling Green: W
Two wins to start the season! I never thought that I would have this team starting 2-0 before I took a look at its schedule. A couple of bunnies to start the season is always a plus for a bad program looking towards a rough season. Last year, Bowling Green only managed 10 points against the Hoosiers. I can't believe that an FBS team couldn't roll out of bed and score a couple of touchdowns. Even though they're not as good as last year, they still should be good enough to get past the Falcons.
9/20 at Missouri: L
Things start to get dicey for the Hoosiers with a trip to Columbia on tap. Although Missouri has lost almost everybody from their top-15 offense a year ago, the experience Maty Mauk gained in James Franklin's absence a season ago should serve the Tigers well and make its transition a bit easier. They just have too much talent for a Latimore-less Hoosiers team to compete. Tigers win big.
9/27 vs. Maryland: L
The Terps were fortunate enough to draw a friendly matchup against the Hoosiers in their very first Big Ten competition. Now that he's finally healthy, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown should have a field day against this putrid defense. Hoosier running back Tevin Coleman will be able to pound the ball enough to keep it respectable, but Maryland should win without too much trouble.
10/4 vs. North Texas: L
Don't sleep on the Mean Green. They had a very quiet 9-4 season last year with a blowout win in the Heart of Dallas Bowl over UNLV, holding down the 8th-best defense in the country in 2013, and despite losing their starting quarterback and running back, anybody can put up points against Indiana. Some may look at this as an upset, but it really isn't. North Texas is a solid program, and they're good enough to beat a lowly Big Ten team.
10/11 at Iowa: L
Things continue to go downhill for the Hoosiers as they get into the heat of Big Ten play. A trip to Iowa will be the first in a stretch of several ugly games for Indiana. The Hawkeyes sported the 9th-best defense in the country a year ago, and they are still more than capable of slowing down Nate Sudfeld and company. Iowa wins this one easy.
10/18 vs. Michigan State: L
The ugliest of this ugly stretch comes with a visit from Sparty. Connor Cook throws for four touchdowns, Jeremy Langford runs for a couple more. The line for this game should be in the high 40s. Blowout win for Michigan State.
11/1 at Michigan: L
A visit to the Big House will turn into the third straight blowout defeat for the Hoosiers. Despite the uncertainty at quarterback, the Wolverines have enough playmakers to put up their fair share of points regardless of who's taking the snaps under center. I think it's another subpar season in Ann Arbor, by their standards at least, but this will be a bright spot in 2014. Michigan wins big.
11/8 vs. Penn St: L
Christian Hackenberg will probably be salivating the entire flight to Bloomington. Statistically, this will probably be his best game of the season. Four hundred yards and five touchdowns should be very sustainable with somebody of his talent level. Another huge loss for the Hoosiers.
11/15 at Rutgers: L
A game that the Hoosiers might actually have a chance to compete in! I think these are probably the two worst teams in the conference, and this will be the "fight" for the cellar in the Big Ten. There's really not much analysis to be done here, other than that Rutgers is at home. I give the Scarlet Knights the benefit of the doubt as the home team, and they win a close one.
11/22 at Ohio State: L
Just when the Hoosiers got accustomed to competitive football, they get to travel to Columbus. Life isn't fair. Braxton Miller gets to pad his stats and enhance his Heisman resume en route to an easy win over Indiana.
11/29 vs. Purdue: L
The second best chance that the Hoosiers have to win a Big Ten game, and I still don't think they pull it off. Purdue has Raheem Mostert on their side, one of the fastest and most explosive playmakers in the country. He can be a difference maker against a bad opponent like Indiana. I think he makes the big play in the fourth quarter that puts the Boilermakers on the top.
2014 Indiana Projected Record: 2-10 (0-8)