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Football down but not feeling out just yet

With 6 losses, IU hangs on to bowl eligibility



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IU quarterback Ben Chappell covers his face as he walks off the field after Saturday's loss to Central Michigan at Memorial Stadium. Crista Chapman Buy Photos



Junior linebacker Will Patterson was so perturbed by his team’s performance he somewhat called out them out following the game.

“We’ve got certain guys that go out and play like warriors every Saturday,” Patterson said. “Then you’ve got the few guys that just kind of do their own thing. It showed today and we’ll get it fixed.”

Three games left leaves the outside chance at IU becoming bowl eligible, but the road to .500 is going to be anything but easy.

In their remaining three weeks, the Hoosiers entertain a struggling Wisconsin team, travel to No. 3 Penn State and finish up at Purdue in Joe Tiller’s last game. Even if they win out to finish 6-6, IU with have to beat out many other Big Ten eligible will make it very difficult for the Hoosiers to play in the postseason.

“Our goal is still out there,” Patterson said. “All we need is six wins, and we still have three games left. To some, it might seem impossible but we’re going to come out and play our best.”

Following last year’s dream season that culminated with Austin Starr’s 49-yard field goal sending the Hoosiers to the Insight Bowl, everything has unraveled in 2008. Untimely injuries, a suspect defense and even the senior kicker’s struggles (7-of-14 and with two missed extra points) have plagued the Hoosiers throughout the year.

No, there is not a whole lot of magic to be found. Not when IU gives up 485 passing yards to a backup quarterback – third most against IU in its history. Or allowing Central Michigan to convert on 11-of-19 third downs. Not when the Hoosiers lose two games in a season against Mid-American Conference opponents for the first time in the program’s history.

“We played great football 75 percent of the time, and we played really bad football 25 percent of the time,” said junior defensive end Jammie Kirlew. “They took advantage of that 25 percent.”

The Hoosiers did have their bright spots on Saturday. The team recorded seven sacks on backup quarterback Brian Brunner - junior linebacker Matt Mayberry had four of them – and IU even gained 213 yards on the ground. The Hoosiers even limited Central Michigan to 37 yards rushing.

“We did a good job all day stopping the run,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “You’d like to make a team one-dimensional and we stopped the run but we just never did stop the pass.”

Not aiding the Hoosiers efforts late in the game were running backs senior Marcus Thigpen and junior Bryan Payton who both fell to undetermined injuries.

“I don’t know right now,” Lynch said to the extent of their injuries. “Obviously they were serious enough that they were taken out of the game.”

Even though the Hoosiers are floundering three games under .500, Lynch is not ready to admit this team has taken a step back from last year.

“At this point, I’m not concerned with that,” Lynch said. “I’m concerned with getting it right and getting it on with Wisconsin, at this point. ... We’ve got to get our team corrected and get it going in the right direction.”

Nor is Kirlew ready to give up on this year.

“I know we have a lot of talent on this team,” he said. “Though we have a few key guys out, we still should be able to go out and compete.”

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