Indiana’s biggest goal this season? Get back to a bowl game to prove that last year’s winless Big Ten season was only a 1-year deviation for an otherwise healthy football program.

The Hoosiers are off to a great start, having picked up a dramatic 23-20 come-from-behind victory in the season-opener vs. Illinois.

Now, the Hoosiers have Idaho coming to Bloomington for an 8 p.m. kick under the lights at Memorial Stadium. It represents a chance for IU to continue a quick start to the season.

Let’s list off the 5 most likely victories on the Hoosiers’ schedule this season as they seek to return to bowl eligibility.


Idaho might not represent the walk in the park that it was last season, when the Hoosiers busted up the FCS Vandals 56-14.

Why? Idaho looks improved under first-year coach Jason Eck, who was hired after 6 seasons as an assistant at FCS power North Dakota State. In his debut last week, Eck led the Vandals to a near-upset of a Power 5 program, losing at Washington State only when quarterback Gevani McCoy’s pass was picked off at the goal line with 12 seconds left. Idaho had started the game quickly, forcing fumbles on the Cougars’ first 2 possessions, returning the second for a touchdown.

The Hoosiers should be on alert. Twice already this season, an FCS school has beaten an FBS team, with William & Mary beating Charlotte and Delaware beating Navy. And 4 Power 5 teams lost such matchups last season.

But Indiana jumped all over Idaho last season, racing out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and pushing it to 35-7 by the half. The Hoosiers controlled the line of scrimmage, and should be able to do the same vs. the Vandals in Round 2.

Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky is 2-0 this season, but the wins came against 2 of the weakest opponents the Hilltoppers could schedule: Austin Peay and Hawaii.

A more true test for WKU won’t come until it travels to Indiana on Sept. 17 following a bye this weekend.

IU beat Western Kentucky in Bowling Green last season, hanging on for a 33-31 victory. As it turned out, the win was the Hoosiers’ last of the season. Coach Tyson Helton’s fast-paced attack will put some pressure on Indiana’s defense. But the Hoosiers have a talented, veteran secondary that should be able to come up with a turnover or 2 that will push the game to Indiana’s advantage.


The Hoosiers have a couple of huge games in the middle of October, hosting Maryland on Oct. 15 and then traveling to Rutgers the next weekend.

If IU can go 2-0 during the stretch, it’ll go a long ways toward getting the Hoosiers back into the postseason. The Terrapins are likely to be able to sling the ball all over the yard with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, but they’re prone to mistakes, as well. Even in Maryland’s opener, a 31-10 victory over Buffalo, Tagovailoa threw an interception — after having 11 last season.

IU nearly pulled off a win at Maryland last season in what was its closest Big Ten game, falling 38-35. Expect another close one, but turnovers — again — can make a difference for the Hoosiers.

At Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights were one of the surprise winners in Week 1 in college football, upsetting Boston College on the road after being a near-10-point underdog.

But their ability to maintain success this season is questionable, to say the least. And Indiana will have this one circled, after Rutgers came to Bloomington last season and embarrassed the Hoosiers, beating a listless IU team 38-3. Knights coach Greg Schiano is starting to put the pieces back together again in Piscataway, but that won’t be a short process.

The Oct. 22 game — Rutgers has a bye the week before — feels like a must-win for the Hoosiers.


Indiana will certainly have plenty of motivation for the matchup with the Boilermakers, especially if a victory is needed for a postseason trip.

The rivalry game is in Bloomington this season, after Purdue smoked IU 44-7 last season. But that Indiana team was reeling after enduring a long losing streak with multiple injuries, and it was playing a 4th-string walk-on quarterback. One would have to hope that IU is in better shape by Week 12 this season.

The Boilermakers might have position advantages, but some of that gets thrown out for the Old Oaken Bucket.