B1G Rule of Three: 2017 Indiana Hoosiers Edition

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The rule of three is an old writing premise that suggests everything is better in threes – that the number three helps engage the reader and helps them remember the story and connect to it.

The rule has stood the test of time. Think about all of the things that come in threes: little pigs, musketeers (the book and the candy bar), kings of Orient are, and original Star Wars movies.

So looking at this year’s Big Ten football season, we’re going to break down each B1G team with threes in mind – three things to remember (or forget) from last season, three things to look forward to this season, and three big games.

We are doing this in alphabetical order, starting with Illinois (which you can see here), and working our way to Wisconsin. Next in line is the Indiana Hoosiers. IU finished 6-7 a year ago, but couldn’t string together three wins in a row.

Three Things From 2016

1. Goodbye Kevin Wilson: The Hoosiers have a new head coach this season after the, um, departure of Kevin Wilson. The world may never know what led to the, um, departure of Kevin Wilson, but there was rampant speculation of player mistreatment that eventually forced Indiana officials to, um, tell Wilson to resign or be fired. Whatever happened couldn’t have been too awful, because within weeks Wilson found a new job running Ohio State’s offense.

2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: When you look at Indiana’s 2016 schedule it’s not hard to diagnose the Hoosiers with multiple personality disorder. Indiana would string together a couple wins, scoring a lot of points in the process, then lose a couple while putting few points on the board. A week after holding high-powered Northwestern (in a loss) to 24 points, IU turned around and gave up 36 points (in a win) to Maryland. They gave up 20 to Michigan (again, in a loss) and then 24 to Purdue of all teams (but managed to win). Time to strive for some consistency in 2017.

3. Going Bowling: Despite a year chocked full of injuries, most notably on the offensive side of the ball, the Hoosiers qualified for a bowl game – only its second in nearly a quarter century. That’s a big deal in Bloomington, especially since the Hoosiers almost pulled off the upset against Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl. It gave IU fans something to talk about besides how long it would take Tom Crean to get fired as hoops coach. In addition, it provided Indiana an opportunity to build some momentum moving forward.

Three Things for 2017

1. What Will Indiana Look Like?: Under Kevin Wilson, who is known for high-powered offenses, you knew Indiana was going to try to go up and down the field on teams. That could very easily change under the direction of new coach Tom Allen, who is very much a defensive-minded coach. Allen helped turn around the defense at South Florida, and has already made major strides at IU in just one year as defensive coordinator. As mentioned earlier, the Hoosiers gave up a lot of points in a lot of games, but one could expect that with the likes of Ohio State and Penn State on the schedule. The Hoosiers return a lot players in the secondary, and the front seven was staunch against the run last season. It will be interesting to see how much this defense improves, or doesn’t.

2. And the Offense Goes To…: Former Tennessee play-caller Mike DeBord was hired as Indiana’s new offensive coordinator. Many Volunteers fans weren’t heartbroken to see DeBord go. Indiana fans are a little leery about what DeBord’s hire will do to the high-octane offense they became accustomed to under Wilson. While Wilson loved to spread things out, DeBord’s resume involves mainly offensive line and tight end coaching. Will that mesh with what Indiana already has in-house? Richard Lagow has a mighty arm and some mighty good receivers to catch his passes. Lagow threw for more than 3,000 yards last year, but also threw 17 interceptions (including 5 in one game). A lack of run game didn’t help him, so maybe that’s the emphasis for DeBord and company for 2017 – to develop a run game that compliments the pass.

3. A Daunting Schedule: To use an old cliché, because that’s just fun, the schedule makers didn’t do Indiana any favors in 2017. While most schools tend to start off with a patsy to ease into the season, the Hoosiers’ first game is against… Ohio State. Yes, that Ohio State. It’s a rare conference opener and it comes against one of the best teams in the country (if you believe preseason polls). Indiana also has a lot of big games away from home. The Hoosiers are at Virginia, Penn State, Michigan State, Maryland, and Purdue. Yes, Purdue is awful but it’s still a rivalry game to close out the season with a possible bowl berth on the line. That’s a tough gauntlet to run through.

Three Big Games

1. At Michigan State (October 21): The Hoosiers win against Michigan State last season was a shock to many, but that was before we learned how incredibly mediocre the Spartans had become. A trip to East Lansing may be the ultimate test for Indiana and its quest to become more than just a basketball school. No one thinks IU is going to win the Big Ten East, but winning this game could separate Indiana from an afterthought to a threat in the B1G – and it could give Tom Allen his first signature win as a head coach.

2. At Maryland (October 28): No matter what happens at Michigan State, the Hoosiers turn around the following week and head to Maryland. The Terrapins are another team slowly rising among the ranks, and this will be another key game for Indiana when it comes to pecking order in the division. Win this game after beating the Spartans and that’s back-to-back road wins in one of the toughest conferences in college football. Even a split would be a pretty big deal. This two-week stretch will go a long way in showing the world what Indiana football is made of.

3. At Purdue (November 25): Ah, the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. Indiana has owned this rivalry recently, winning the last four meetings against its in-state rival. And, as mentioned previously, this game could determine whether the Hoosiers go bowling again this season. Or a win could propel IU up the Big Ten bowl pecking order. Either way, you can’t do a schedule analysis of Indiana football without including this feud that has taken place on the field every year since 1891.