Date: Thursday, September 1
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: FIU Stadium, Miami, FL
Network: ESPNU & WatchESPN App
The Indiana Hoosiers start their 2016 campaign with a matchup against the Florida International University Golden Panthers Thursday night
In 2015, the Hoosiers started the season with four straight wins but finished the season with a 6-7 record overall. The program hopes they can replicate last season’s fast start, but they obviously want to focus on finishing the season better.
With this matchup against the Golden Panthers, the Hoosiers can get off to a hot start again. This is the second year in a row they will be facing FIU. The Hoosiers won last year’s contest 36-22 in Memorial Stadium.
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In order to win Thursday’s contest, the Hoosiers need their offense to play well against the Golden Panthers. In fact, they will probably need their offense to play well if they want any success in 2016.
The Hoosiers’ defense gave up 37.1 points per game (116th in the nation) in 2015. It is hard to see their defense making huge improvements in that category in one offseason.
The Hoosiers’ offense has undergone dramatic change this offseason. Specifically, last year’s starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and starting running back Jordan Howard are gone. Luckily, head coach Kevin Wilson has found their replacements.
Meanwhile, running back Devine Redding is returning for the Hoosiers. The junior running back ran for 1,012 yards in 2015 and should be the team’s leading back throughout the 2016 season.
It will be interesting to see how Lagow affects the Hoosiers’ offense. He will be asked to do the same thing as Sudfeld. That is a tough act to follow because Sudfeld is the school’s career record holder in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
However, Lagow was regarded as one of the top JUCO quarterbacks of this past recruiting period. He threw for over 4,500 passing yards and 38 touchdowns at Cisco College. He has the tools to replicate Sudfeld’s success.
As for FIU, they were 5-7 last season and kept the game close in their loss to the Hoosiers last season. In fact, the Golden Panthers lead 22-19 early in the fourth quarter. They have players that can help them challenge the Hoosiers again this Thursday.
Junior quarterback Alex McGough threw for 249 passing yards and three touchdowns against the Hoosiers last year. He returns as the Golden Panthers’ full-time starting quarterback for third season in a row.
This is a contest the Indiana Hoosiers should win. However, it is not going to be a cakewalk. They will need to make a couple of big plays in order to win this game comfortably.
Prediction: Indiana 38, FIU 24