Just for the record: I didn’t enjoy the last two minutes of the Indiana game any more than you did. But let’s be honest about this, we are only talking about two minutes of one game. That’s not to say that there aren’t big issues with the defense that have been evident since week one, because there certainly are.
But we are undefeated. It hasn’t always been pretty. It wasn’t always pretty in 2002 either, but for some reason Great Defense/Mediocre Offense is better than Great Offense/Mediocre Defense. If anyone can explain that to me without using the phrase “defense wins championships,” I’ll listen. Maybe if we finish the job and go 12-0, people will lay off of Fickell and the defensive performance. Probably not.
Aside from all that (and all that has been said here on the topic this week), would it kill us to give Indiana some credit? If this game had been against Michigan State or Wisconsin, no one would be complaining. We would be relieved that we got out with a win. But it was Indiana, the perennial Big Ten whipping boy, the proverbial Bye Week With Jerseys. The joke is always that no one knows what a “Hoosier” is. But when it comes to football, we all know.
But now, as is the theme of the Big Ten this year, everything we know is wrong.
Here are Indiana’s other three losses: Ball State kicked a field goal with six seconds left in the game to beat the Hoosiers. Michigan State was behind for the entire game until a mid-fourth quarter winning touchdown. Northwestern opened up a 27-0 lead but Indiana still managed to get back to within 8 points late in the game. Had a few plays gone their way, the Hoosiers could easily be a one-loss team right now. Heck, with another “recovered” onside kick, they could even be undefeated.
The Hoosiers just find a way to almost win.
Second-year head coach Kevin Wilson knows a little something about offensive football. He was Randy Walker’s offensive coordinator at Miami and Northwestern until 2001, a run that included this gem. He won the Broyles Award in 2008 as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, where he assisted or presided over the prolific Sooners offenses of the 2000s. His winning percentage as a head coach doesn’t reflect his talent. Yet.
If IU gives Wilson the time, I believe he can elevate this team to at least a Northwestern status in the Big Ten.
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Oregon at Arizona State: With two unbeatens in the North and two once-beatens in the South, the Pac-12 could get pretty interesting, especially if the 5-1 Sun Devils can knock off the 6-0 Ducks at home.
Michigan State at Michigan: The stage seems perfectly set for Denard Robinson and any other players that may be on the team to finally take back the mitten-shaped crown from Little Brother. The Wolverines have been successful so far this year under pressu–oh, wait…
South Carolina at Florida: The Gators can essentially lock up the SEC East with a win in the Swamp against the Gamecocks and a victory next week in The World’s Largest Outdoor
Cocktail Sweet Tea Party. Otherwise, things could get messy.
Kansas State at West Virginia: The Mountaineers need to bounce back after last week’s throttling at the hands of Texas Tech. Facing the Big 12’s top team isn’t necessarily the way to do that. KSU’s defense should help them replicate the Red Raiders’ success.
North Carolina at Duke: Both of these teams are 5-2. In football.