The 2018 Indiana Football Schedule Has Many Twists and Turns, but Can the Hoosiers Navigate it?

The Indiana Hoosiers will have to navigate a tough October in 2018  Image: Sarah Miller Hoosier Huddle

The Indiana Hoosiers will have to navigate a tough October in 2018 Image: Sarah Miller Hoosier Huddle

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

The 2018 college football season is right around the corner and it is time to give fans a brief overview of the 2018 IU football schedule. We will give the date and location and a brief summary of how important the game is and recent series history.

September 1st at Florida International Golden Panthers

For the second time in three years the Hoosiers will start the season in south Florida. FIU probably overachieved a bit in Butch Davis’s first year going 8-5 with a Gasperella Bowl appearance. The Golden Panthers have to replace a ton of experience in 2018, so a step back could be expected.

The Hoosiers are 2-0 all-time against FIU (last year’s matchup was cancelled) and won 34-13 on their last trip to Miami. This game would be a little bit more dangerous if the Hoosiers did not land grad transfer quarterback Brandon Dawkins. For the 2018 season to get off to the start Hoosier Nation wants, IU needs to get this road victory against a Group of Five squad.

September 8th vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Home openers are always special and it gets kicked up a notch when the game is against a Power Five opponent. Virginia won six games a year ago and earned a Military Bowl bid. In last year’s matchup the Hoosiers cruised in the second half to a 34-17 road victory. This will be the fourth ever meeting between the Cavaliers and the Hoosiers with UVA holding a 2-1 advantage. Virginia defeated Bill Lynch’s squad in 2009 47-7 in Charlottesville and Kevin Wilson’s squad 34-31 in 2011 at Memorial Stadium.

Every non-conference game is vital for the Hoosiers since they play in the Big Ten East and will draw Iowa and Minnesota out of the West. This game is one of the many swing games on the 2018 schedule.

September 15th vs. Ball State Cardinals

The Hoosiers continue their three-game home stand when in-state MAC opponent Ball State comes to town in week three. The Cardinals are coming off a two-win season in 2017, but they dealt with a horrible injury luck. BSU returns running back James Gilbert and QB Riley Neal. While the Hoosiers lead the series 5-3, IU had lost three straight before a 30-20 win in 2016.

The Hoosiers need to close out the non-conference slate strong. Heading into Big Ten play 3-0 would ignite a fire under a fan base who needs a spark.

September 22nd vs. Michigan State

The Battle for the Old Brass Spittoon is always a big one for both teams. While the Spartans hold a 46-16-2 lead in the series, three of the last six match-ups have been decided by one score. The Hoosiers won the last match-up in Bloomington 24-21 in OT in 2016 but fell in East Lansing 17-9 last season.

The Spartans will likely come into this game ranked in the top-15, but that won’t scare off IU. IU has seven home games and need to start defending their home turf a bit better if they want to go bowling in 2018.

September 29th at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

This is a big game for the Hoosiers as they have won the last two against the Scarlet Knights, posting a 41-0 shutout in Bloomington last season. IU is 2-2 all-time against Rutgers. Rutgers proved to be on the upswing after posting three Big Ten wins last season and doubled their win total up from two in 2016 to four in 2017, so this will not be a push over.  With the Big Ten East as tough as it is already, this game is a must win for IU should they want to be bowl eligible in 2018.

October 6th at Ohio State Buckeyes

Arguably the toughest game on the 2018 schedule, the Hoosiers will try and get a win in the Shoe for the first time since 1987 (IU hasn’t beaten OSU since 1988). The Buckeyes will be breaking in a new quarterback and will have to replace a ton of talent that is now playing on Sundays in the NFL. While that may be a concern earlier in the year for Ohio State, Urban Meyer and company should have things figured out by the first Saturday in October. This is the first game of a grueling October slate.

October 13th vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hoosiers’ first West division crossover is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are coming off a season that featured a blowout of Ohio State, a Pinstripe Bowl victory over Boston College but also five losses. Iowa returns QB Nate Stanley and TE Noah Fant and one can bet their defense will be stout as always. Iowa does lose Akrum Wadley and Josey Jewel however and those players are tough to replace.

This is a monster game for IU. It could be the homecoming date for 2018, so a good crowd should be on hand and frankly we don’t know which Iowa will show up away from Kinnick Stadium. Iowa was 2-3 in true road games a year ago and will be coming off a road trip to Minnesota in a rivalry game.

October 20th vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

IU’s grueling October continues in Bloomington as they Hoosiers will welcome the Nittany Lions into town. IU is a woeful 1-20 against PSU all-time. Penn State will not have stud running back Saquon Barkley anymore, but QB Trace McSorley returns to run the offense. PSU is a contender in the East and will be coming off a home battle with Michigan State. Having played Ohio State and Michigan State prior to IU, don’t be shocked to see PSU in the top-five by the time this one rolls around. This is another chance for the Hoosiers to score a home upset against one of the big boys of the East and you can bet that Tom Allen wants to wash the taste of last year’s poor performance in Happy Valley out.

October 26th at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Welcome to Friday Night Football Hoosier Fans! IU’s first Big Ten Friday night game will be a road trip to the Twin Cities to take on the Gophers for the first time since 2013. Minnesota leads the all-time series 38-26-3, IU last beat the Gophers in 2007 40-20.

Another swing game on the schedule and this one comes on short rest. P.J. Fleck’s team rowed their way to just five wins in 2017, however four of those came at TCF Bank Field. Road games are tough. Road games against unfamiliar conference foes on short rest are tougher.

November 3rd OPEN

Finally, the Hoosiers get a rest and catch their breath before heading into the final three games of the year. There are plenty of good games around the country to get you through the weekend. I am most excited to see Notre Dame travel to Northwestern or Penn State try and win at the Big House.

November 10th vs. Maryland

This game proved to be a dagger to Indiana’s bowl hopes in 2017 as the undermanned Terrapins shell shocked the Hoosiers 42-39 in College Park. Guess what? This is another swing game for both squads. With IU leading the all-time series 4-2 (2-2 since Maryland joined the Big Ten), the Hoosiers have to defend their home turf. They’ll have an extra week to prepare. On the flip side rust could be an issue.

November 17th at Michigan

Indiana has won just nine times in 66 tries against Michigan and hasn’t walked out of the Big House with a win since 1967. However, the Hoosiers have played the Wolverines really tough the past three years as they took two games into overtime and lost a 20-10 slugfest that ended in blizzard like conditions. If the Hoosiers need this win to head to a bowl game, they may be in trouble.

November 23rd vs. Purdue

The Boilermakers punked the Hoosiers last year. Purdue came out ready (fans included) to go while IU just did not have the same fire. After winning four straight Bucket Games, the Hoosiers have felt momentum swing back north to West Lafayette as Jeff Brohm has righted the ship. It’s only May, but this is easily the most important game on the schedule for Tom Allen. Win and all is well in Hoosier land, lose and fans will be left scratching their heads as to what happened. Purdue leads the series 73-41-6, but has not won in Bloomington since 2011. Can the Hoosiers continue to defend their home turf and can the Hoosier faithful answer the bell like Purdue fans did in 2017? Only time will tell.

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