Indiana (3-2; 0-1)
For the Past few years, everybody has been saying "This is the year that IU makes it back to a bowl". nd the last few years, IU has come precariously close with tight losses in conference and out of conference keeping them from the elusive preseason. The hard thing to predict about these Hoosiers is which team will show up. IU seemingly gave away should be wins at Bowling Green (That was painful to watch) and never really showed up against Maryland just a week after stunning Mizzou. I hate talking about must win games in September, but in terms of Bowl hopes, those were both pretty devastating losses. All that said you can't change the past, so lets start looking to the future. IU has 7 games remaining and they need 3 wins. On paper you have to count the Michigan State game next week and the OSU game in November as losses. Similarly, I would chalk up Purdue as a win. Purdue is not nearly as dreadful as last year, but IU should* (depending on which team shows up) win. IU will then need to scratch out 2 wins in the other 4 games. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, all 4 of those games are conference games. So lets look at those 4 games in particular.
First up, this week, is a trip to Iowa. Iowa is 4-1 but there is record is a bit deceiving. While they have won 4 games, only 2 are against a power conference team and those are Pitt and Purdue. While they have played some decent none power conference teams (Norther Iowa, and Ball State) they haven't destroyed anybody (not even Purdue). There one loss is the Iowa State and it was close. This one is potentially winnable for the Hoosiers, but the fact that Iowa has found a way to win in 4 of their 5 games makes me nervouse , because that is something the Hoosiers have not been able to do constistantly in decades... and the game is on the road, typically makes things just a little more challenging. Next up after that is a Michigan team that looks to be in shambles. Before the season I would have marked that game up as a loss, but playing that game at home could result in a win for the Hoosiers... or a get right game for the Blue and Maize. Penn State and Rutgers are both a little tough to predict because they haven't beat anybody really good, but haven''t been upset either. I'm guessing Penn State will have revenge on their mind after last season, but it's a little hard to get a read on exactly how good those 2 teams are right now.
Prediction: IU are really hard to predict right now, but I am going to give the Hoosiers the benefit of the doubt and say they squeak in at 6-6 and get some bowl game we've never heard of.
Purdue (3-3; 1-1)
Good News from the Boilers season so far: They have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat. More Good news for the Boiler fans: They gave Notre Dame one of its few challenges this year. Here's the bad news: Purdue probably won't win another game in 2014. If the cards fell right, Purdue could concievably beat Minnesota or IU, but realistically the pieces aren't quite there yet. Appleby is looking like the QB everyone thought Ettling would be, but he'll be around for a couple more years. The Big Ten Win at Illinois was huge, and Purdue is definitely better than the abismal version from 2013, but the next few weeks might be rough for Boiler fans.
Prediction: They are still singing "Hail Purdue" and chanting "Boiler up" here in Lafayette, but the Boilers are still a couple years away from being relevant in the Bowl scene or the Big Ten. 3-9 for the Boilers this year.
Notre Dame (5-0)
Talking about the Irish is always difficult for me, because their is so much hype and tradition surrounding the Gold and Blue that it is hard to tell what's real and what's not. Here are the facts: Notre Dame is undefeated and has a marquee win against Stanford that they truly earned on a late drive. They also haven't played a true road game and they have 2 stiff challenges on the road before the season ends. I think the real tests will be back to back road games against Florida State and Navy. I think the Irish will drop one of the 2. Now, do I think the Midshipmen have any business hanging around with the Irish? Absolutely not... but that hasn't stopped them in the past. And if the Irish do manage to upset the 'Noles down in seminal country... well that game wedged between Arizona State (currently #20) and Florida State seems like an easy one to overlook.
Prediction: The Irish are a lock for being Bowl bound, but I don't think they get the undefeated mark. That said, 11-1 looks completely feasible for this team and making the playoff is not outside of the realm of possibility, especially if that only loss is to an undefeated Florida State team (needs to be a close loss though, no repeats of Bama from a few years back).
Ball State (1-4; 0-1)
The Cardinals look to be a shell of the team they were the last couple years. Losses to Indiana State and Army are pretty damaging whenever they come about. The tight losses to Toledo and Iowa aren't awful, but Ball State will need to rack up several MAC wins to have a shot at a Bowl at this point. UMass and Eastern Michigan figure to be gimme wins, but all of the rest of the teams are playing well enough that Ball State could have some trouble.
Prediction: BSU beats Army and Indiana State and I am a believer, but those losses are pretty damaging and while there isn't a ton of common opponents to compare off of, the rest of the league doesn't have those damaging losses hanging over their heads. 5-7 feels about right for these Cardinals
Thanks for reading and savor in the Colts win from last night.
-T.O. signing out