As the 2024 college football season approaches, Ohio State fans are turning their attention to the competition in the Big Ten. One team that has undergone significant changes this offseason is the Indiana Hoosiers. With a new head coach and a roster overhaul, Indiana presents an interesting storyline for Buckeye fans. Here’s a detailed look at what to expect from the Hoosiers this season.

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New Leadership and Roster Overhaul

The most significant change for Indiana is the appointment of Curt Cignetti as the new head coach, replacing Tom Allen, who led the team for seven years. Cignetti comes from James Madison University, and with him comes a massive roster turnover. Indiana has added 53 new players, including recruits and transfers, while losing 38 players to the transfer portal. This level of change makes it feel like an entirely new squad.

Key Departures

The Hoosiers have seen some crucial players leave, particularly on the defensive line. Phillip Bleedy transferred out, and standout linebacker Aaron Casey graduated after a stellar season with 20 tackles for loss. Safety Lewis Moore also departed for Ole Miss, leaving gaps that need to be filled. Despite these losses, Indiana has brought in several promising players, including CJ West from Toledo, to bolster their defensive line.

Strengths and Weaknesses

For the first time in a while, Indiana’s offense might be its strength. The running back room has been revamped with the additions of Kalon Black, Elijah Green, and Justice Ellison. The offensive line, under the guidance of second-year coach Bob Bostad, is also looking stronger with key transfers like Trey Wettig and Nick Kidwell.

The wide receiver corps is deep and talented, featuring Donovan McCauley, Elijah Surratt, and former Clemson five-star EJ Williams. This group could be formidable if they find consistency.

On the flip side, depth remains a concern, especially on the defensive line and in the secondary. While the starting lineup has potential, injuries could expose a lack of experienced backups. The offensive line, though improved, also lacks depth beyond the first eight players.

Key Players to Watch

Several players are poised to make an impact this season:

  • Kurtis Rourke: The sixth-year senior quarterback from Ohio University brings experience and leadership.
  • Aiden Fisher: A linebacker from JMU, Fisher is expected to be a vocal leader on defense.
  • Donovan McCauley: A wide receiver who has the potential to be a standout in the Big Ten.

Indiana’s Schedule and Prospects

The Hoosiers have a favorable start to their schedule, with non-conference games against Florida International, Western Illinois, and Charlotte. Their first Big Ten game is on the road against UCLA, followed by home games against Maryland and Northwestern. Indiana has a chance to build early momentum, with realistic expectations of winning at least four of their first six games.

Prediction: Ceiling and Floor

Indiana’s season could go in several directions:

  • Ceiling: If everything clicks, the Hoosiers could start 6-0, setting themselves up for a strong season.
  • Floor: With so many new faces, there’s also the risk of early struggles and injuries. A realistic floor would be around 3-3 through the first six games.

For Ohio State fans, Indiana represents a team in transition with potential to surprise but also significant questions to answer. As the Buckeyes prepare for their own season, keeping an eye on how Indiana’s new-look squad performs will be key in assessing the competition within the Big Ten.