Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Prior to the 2015 season we went through the Indiana home football schedule to go through some games that should spark your interests for different reasons. We are doing it again in 2016. We'd like to point out that every IU football game carries its own story lines, whether you go to all the games or just one here is a list of our best games. Once again IU will play seven home games. While Ohio State and Michigan are not on the home slate this year, they do play host to two trophy games (Michigan State and Purdue), they welcome in Nebraska for the first time in forever, and host in-state foe Ball State. So grab your pen and date book or just open up the calendar app on your phones, here are our best IU football games this fall.
Best Chance to See a Win: Ball State September 10th
Not only is this the home opener, which is always special, it is a chance to get payback against a Cardinals program who have won the last three match-ups against the Hoosiers. Ball State is coming off a 3-9 year and will be breaking in a new coach. The Hoosiers will have a game under their belts and should be primed to get off to a hot start at home. The game comes early enough in the fall that the weather should be nice, even if this game is played under the lights (hopefully).
Best Chance to See an Upset: Michigan State October 1st
There was some debate when it came to picking the Hoosiers' best shot at an upset. The choices were Michigan State or Penn State. We decided to go with Michigan State mostly because they will probably be ranked and are still a very strong team despite losing Connor Cook as well as several other top players. The Spartans come into Bloomington to open up Big Ten play against a team that will be hungry to get over that hump they nearly conquered last season. Memorial Stadium should be in a frenzy as the Hoosiers look to reclaim to Old Brass Spittoon as well. IU could be 3-0 heading into the match-up as well.
Best Game For Fans of Offense: Nebraska October 15th
Shootouts are exciting. They keep fans engaged and on the edge of their seat, plus it means more fireworks. Indiana's offense should provide plenty of those, but our choice for the best chance to see a shootout is on October 15th as the Nebraska Cornhuskers come to Bloomington for the first time as members of the Big Ten. Nebraska's offense should be one of the top units in the Big Ten in 2016, while their defense is prone to a good passing attack. If you are a betting person, take the over. If you like seeing the scoreboard light up, this is the game for you.
Best Game for A Big Time Atmosphere: Nebraska October 15th
Again, there will be some debate here between three or four games: Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, and Purdue (I always will list Purdue). We settled on Nebraska for several reasons:
- They travel extremely well and they have not played in Bloomington yet as part of the Big Ten.
- IU could either be 4-1 or 3-2 heading into a key stretch of the season and have fans fired up to knock of a brand name who will be one of the better teams in the West Division.
- This could be the homecoming game (not an ideal opponent, but hey Rutgers was homecoming last year and we all know how that turned out)
These factors put this game above the other three. Michigan State doesn't travel all that well to Bloomington, Penn State may be facing a down season, and while Purdue is the rivalry for IU football, not having the students on campus and playing the Saturday after Thanksgiving takes a little luster off (Side note: The powers that be must fix this).
Best Chance To Catch The Hoosiers on The Road: Northwestern Oct. 22
Hoosier Nation has a large contingent in and around the Chicagoland area and getting a ticket to Northwestern football is usually easier, and cheaper, than trying to head to Ohio State or Michigan. Hoosier fans can make this a day trip or spend the weekend in the Windy City. Not to mention this is a big game for IU coming out of a stretch that features Michigan State, Ohio State, and Nebraska and precedes match-ups with Maryland and Rutgers.
There you have it Hoosier Nation. Mark your calendars, plan your tailgates and get ready for some football, because the season will be here before we know it.