BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A few weeks ago Tom Allen talked about his vision of Indiana football winning the Top Ten Championship.
As new players arrive on campus and the majority of rookies continue to work off-the-beaten-track this season, it is the realistic expectation that Allen places on his team.
For the Hoosiers to prove they are the top team in the country, they need a schedule that will allow them to show it. Luckily for Indiana, their schedule is full of opportunities in 2021.
Indiana’s schedule was unveiled in early February, and although there are ways to go before it starts, we decided to take a look at the five most exciting and most exciting games for the Hoosiers in 2021.
5.) At Purdue, November 27
It doesn’t matter how good or bad Indiana and Purdue are in a given season, when the two teams meet it’s always a big problem.
The Old Oaken Bucket game will likely always be the top five game on the Indiana schedule. And if you take into account the games that were postponed last season due to COVID-19, the fight at the end of November will be the longest time since the two rivals fought on the football pitch.
There’s something about bragging rights between the two fan bases and it’s being the last game of the regular season that makes this game special.
4.) at Penn State, October 2
If you’re a Penn State fan, this game might actually be higher on the list if you rank the Nittany Lions schedule.
Undeniably one of the best games of 2020 was the season opener between these two teams, which resulted in a dramatic finish in overtime with Michael Penix Jr. dive for the pole with a two-point conversion. Some could argue that losing the game really thwarted Penn State for the rest of the season, and some argued that Penix didn’t hit the post, which means Penn State should have won the game.
Either way, assuming some fan capacity is allowed in the Top Ten games in 2021, it will be a very hostile environment for the Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium.
Both teams will likely be in the top 25 on October 2, and Indiana has never beaten Penn State on the road, so there will be a lot of build-up and anticipation for this rematch.
3.) in Iowa, September 4
You could argue that this game is potentially at the top of the list. These two teams haven’t played since 2018, but there will be many storylines leading up to this one.
First and foremost, it is the first game of the season. There is always a great level of excitement and anticipation when teams take to the pitch for the first time, and these two teams will likely be in the top 25 in the run-up to this season.
Then there’s Gary Barta, the Iowa athletic director who serves as the committee chair for the University Football Playoffs. Despite Indiana’s 6-1 conference record and top 10 ranking on the Associated Press, the Hoosiers did not make the New Years Six Bowls. Many were annoyed that Barta was no more defending Indiana, given that the Hoosiers represented the conference to which he was a member of the Army.
When Tom Allen was asked what he would say to Barta after Indiana was given the Outback Bowl, Allen said, “This is not the right time.”
Even as Indiana basketball beat Iowa twice this season, fans on social media said, “That’s for you, Gary Barta.” So, Hoosier loyalists will be excited for this one, and for those who know how Allen rolled over, Indiana will walk up to Kinnick Stadium with a chip on his shoulder.
2.) vs. Cincinnati, September 18
Who would have thought Indiana football would have a non-conference game that could potentially become one of the best games of the season?
Just like Indiana, Cincinnati has a historic season in 2020. The Bearcats won 9-1 that season and made a strong push to be considered in the University Football Playoffs. They finally came briefly to Georgia at the Peach Bowl.
But with one of the best coaches in college football at Luke Fickell and quarterback Desmond Ridder announcing his intention to return, the Bearcats should have another solid team in 2021.
These two teams will need to be in the top 25 at the time they meet, and there is a chance that they could both be in the top 10 as well in just three weeks into the season.
Indiana has its home opener against Idaho on September 11, but this Cincinnati game is only a week later. So once again, if fans are allowed this season, this game could be the first time Hoosier fans have packed a rock and created an energetic environment at Memorial Stadium.
1.) vs. Ohio State, October 23
It’s hard not to include Ohio State as the top game for this upcoming season. Minus Alabama at the National Championships, Indiana played the closest Ohio State in 2020, losing only to the Buckeyes 42-35 in Columbus.
When you think of the dense crowds for the Cincinnati game, imagine what it would be like when the State of Ohio came to Bloomington on October 23. This created a flashback to a game between the two in 2017, where Memorial Stadium was sold out.
There won’t be Justin Fields for Ohio State as he heads to the NFL, but the Buckeyes retained a large number of their star players from last season. With Ryan Day at the helm and the recruit the program can get, there was never any real concern that OSU would be experiencing a downturn.
They are the team to beat in the Top Ten, and in their pursuit of the Top Ten Championship in Indiana, the Hoosiers will have to get past the Buckeyes. Some fans will underestimate the Buckeyes too after the Top Ten changed the six-game minimum rule last season to allow OSU to play in the conference title game over Indiana.
Plus all that, as well as coming close to losing to last season, Indiana will be very confident and excited to play Ohio State in 2021.
Who said Gameday College won’t be in Bloomington next season?
- INDIAN SOCCER TO BE A DESIRED DESTINATION: Tom Allen has turned Indiana football into a place that coaches and players want. CLICK HERE
- MCCULLOUGH BRINGS CHAMPIONSHIP EDGE TO INDIANA: RB coach Deland McCullough spoke about what he hopes to achieve in Indiana. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA FOOTBALL 2021 SCHEDULE: For the complete Indiana 2021 schedule, CLICK HERE