Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Top Ten: Bowls I Expect IU to Go To This Year

It's not always easy to be an Indiana Hoosiers football fan.  We have suffered through plenty of heartbreak, and even though we tend to expect the team to overachieve each year (and bear in mind that overachieving for us is usually somewhere between 4 and 6 wins), our dreams are almost always shattered by injuries, untimely lapses in judgment, or porous defense.  But not this year.  

In case you aren't a die hard fan and, therefore, have no reason to know this, my beloved Hoosiers are 4-0 for the first time since 1990.  Running back Jordan Howard leads the nation in rushing yards, and wide receiver Ricky Jones, Jr. leads the Big Ten in receiving yards, with a ridiculous 22.8 yards-per-catch average.

Based on those odds, I may not have the ability to write a post like this again until I'm 62, so I'm going to go ahead and enjoy this moment, as the Hoosiers welcome #1 Ohio State to Memorial Stadium this Saturday (3:30 EST, ABC), with a chance to shock the world.  It's the first time IU and Ohio State are meeting when both teams are undefeated since 1942, when both teams were 1-0.

IU hasn't beaten O$U since 1988 -- a 41-7 trouncing in Bloomington to bring their record to 4-0-1, a year after the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes 31-10 in Columbus, causing Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce to declare it was "the darkest day in Ohio State football history."  Believe it or not, the Hoosiers were considered Rose Bowl contenders back then.  Of course, IU didn't go to the Rose Bowl that year, settling for the Liberty Bowl after finishing the regular season 7-3-1 and 5th in the Big Ten (with a final ranking of #20 to boot).

A win on Saturday would be program-defining, but I'm not holding my breath, even though the Hoosiers control their own destiny for the national championship.  A mere 11 more victories, and that Dr. Pepper trophy I see on those commercials every Saturday will be ours.  It's just that easy.

But seriously, the Hoosiers need two more wins to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007.  Looking at their schedule, they have 2 to 6 more winnable games, depending on how the football gods feel like treating them.  IU's 4-0 start has not gone unnoticed by the college football press, as the most recent bowl projections by a host of websites have the Hoosiers go bowling:

Heart of Dallas Bowl (Bleacher Report, USA Today)
Pinstripe Bowl (Jerry Palm of CBS Sports)
Quick Lane Bowl (Brett McMurphy of ESPN, SB Nation)
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Mark Schlabach of ESPN, Campus Insiders, Sporting News, College Football News)
Music City Bowl (Crimson Quarry)

I will be inconsolable if IU doesn't go to a bowl this year, but rest assured, I'll be going to any bowl the Hoosiers play in (okay, Jester?).  With that, here are the ten bowls I expect IU to go to at the end of this season, listing the bowl, location, and date:

10.  Orange Bowl (Miami, FL; December 31)
To get to the Orange Bowl, all the Hoosiers have to do is finish in the top four of the college football playoff standings.  That starts with a win over Buckeyes on Saturday.

9.  Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA; January 1)
The Hoosiers have only been to the Rose Bowl once, following the 1967 season, when they lost to future murderer OJ Simpson and USC.  To get to the Rose Bowl, all the Hoosiers have to do is win the Big Ten Championship game and not finish in the top four of the college football playoff standings.

8.  None (nowhere; never)
Based on my past heartbreaks, I have to expect the worst.

7.  Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL; January 1)
To make it to the Outback Bowl, IU would probably have to win 8 or 9 games, which would make this season one of the most successful in program history.

6.  National University Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA; December 30)
I would murder you to go to San Diego on December 30.  Also, the Holiday Bowl is the site of the Hoosiers' first bowl victory.  Lee Corso coached IU to a 1979 triumph over previously undefeated and #9-ranked BYU, after IU's Tim Wilbur returned a punt for a touchdown with less than 7 minutes left and the Cougars missed a field goal with 11 seconds left to give the Hoosiers a 38-37 win.

5.  Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN; December 30)
I've never been to Nashville, and from what I've been told, I would love it.  I would especially love it if my first trip there was to see the Hoosiers play in Nissan Stadium.

4.  New Era Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY; December 26)
Last year, Jester and I went to New York on New Years Day, so it would make sense for us to leave our children at home on Christmas Day this year.

3.  Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, CA; December 26)
A weekend in the Bay Area wouldn't be too bad, save for all the hippies.

2.  Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX; December 29)
Fort Worth is Dallas's bastard little brother, but I'm sure it will be warmer on December 29 than Chicago will be, and that's good enough for me.

1.  Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI; December 28)
Detroit in late December.  A guy can dream, can't he?

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