How Indiana Hoosiers football can get back on track in 2024

Indiana v Purdue
Indiana v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Indiana’s out-of-conference slate is winnable to a fault

Of Indiana’s three non-conference dates, the toughest is its season-opener against FIU, a Conference USA team that went 4-8 last year—and it’s a home game. Yes, that’s the toughest. Beyond that are just two more home games against the Western Illinois Leathernecks (FCS team, went 0-11) and Charlotte (AAC team, went 3-9). If the Hoosiers don’t completely roll through that bunch, they ought as well disband the football program.

The second break Indiana football catches stems from those Big Ten newcomers I referenced just a moment ago, with one of them being its introduction to league play. On Sep. 14, in the middle of their unwatchable non-conference battles, the Hoosiers travel to Pasadena to take on UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

Especially with the Bruins having won eight or more games for three seasons straight, they look nothing like an easy win. There is one shining light though: UCLA’s new head coach.

While Indiana is sitting pretty with a proven Cignetti, the Bruins have DeShaun Foster, a former NFL running back who has no head coaching experience whatsoever. So even with the encounter still being an uphill battle, that is at least one layer of comfort the Hoosiers have in their corner, and it’s those kinds of advantages that will become increasingly common as we press on through today’s discussion.

Speaking of which, our next (and perhaps most extreme) example of changes in personnel altering the optics of a game is the second and final newcomer on Indiana’s slate—Washington.

We’d normally see Washington as all the bigger of a threat than UCLA, as the Huskies are coming off of a 14-1 run that was capped off with an appearance in the national championship, but that’s not the done deal it presents itself as.

Similarly to the Bruins, the Huskies are also breaking in a new head coach, though his (Jedd Fisch's) strong résumé for the job lessens the blow a bit. As a result, the worst part comes in with the roster instead, as its attempt to fill the last one's shoes has 2024 UW football looking like an absolute shell of its 2023 counterpart.

In short, Washington’s practically guaranteed plummet in competitiveness shouldn’t have the thought of facing the Hoosiers in Bloomington sitting right with a single Huskies fan.