Indiana went only 4-8 in 2012, but for the first time in years, there is hope surrounding the program. Head coach Kevin Wilson has the Hoosiers recruiting better than they have in recent memory, and the program even caught a little national buzz after unveiling a new set of helmets. Eventually, though, Indiana needs to start winning football games. Let's take a look at its schedule to see how likely a step forward is in 2013.
2013 Indiana schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The good news for the Hoosiers is they have eight home games this season, and none of them are shopped out to neutral sites. If Indiana really is close to turning the corner as a program like some people think, playing in front of the home crowd can be the difference in close games. Speaking of close games, Indiana had horrible luck in them in 2012, going 1-4 in contests decided by less than a touchdown. The Hoosiers play all of their non-conference games at home, too, which means they don't leave the state of Indiana until Oct. 12. They also manage to miss Nebraska this year, a game that would almost assuredly be a loss.
That's the good news. The bad news is Indiana's four road games are at Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State. They have a three-week stretch in October where they play Penn State, at Michigan State, and at Michigan, and back-to-back games in November at Wisconsin and at Ohio State, after which they end their season against Purdue, who beat the Hoosiers for the Old Oaken Bucket, 56-35, in 2012. Indiana also faces a deceptively hard out-of-conference schedule and could enter the Big Ten slate with three home losses to Navy, Bowling Green and Missouri.
It's easy to see a scenario where the Hoosiers play better than they did last year but still finish with a 4-8 record. It's cold comfort to the Hoosier fans who have sat through a lot of losing football, but Wilson does appear to have the program heading down the right path. Staying on that path, however, is a much more difficult proposition.