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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Hoosiers face battle of wills

When the Hoosiers hit Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill., they’ll be looking in a proverbial mirror.

Akin to IU, the Northwestern Wildcats enter the weekend at 4-3 total and 1-2 in the conference, searching for a spot in the postseason picture.

Both teams boast their victories against sub-.500 D-1 teams, their statistical standings nearly identical. 

Each team is searching for a spot in the postseason, and Saturday will determine which of the two is more deserving. 

“Our kids are aware of the ramifications,” IU coach Bill Lynch said, “but if we keep talking about going to a bowl game and not worrying about today, we are never going to get there.”

Lynch and his team might not want to think about it, but there’s no ignoring the bowl implications hovering above their Week 8 contest. 

IU will need a minimum of six victories to even be considered for a bowl spot, and with its tie with Northwestern for eighth in the Big Ten, this weekend’s game becomes that much more vital to their postseason dreams.

The Hoosiers will face Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue to close out the season, and a guaranteed victory is nowhere to be found. 

Three of the four teams are currently in the BCS top 25, and Purdue, the lone opponent on the Hoosiers schedule that might not make a bowl game, did what IU couldn’t and upset Ohio State at home. 

It’s still unknown how they’ll handle that home stretch because it’s impossible to get a feel for the 2009 Hoosiers. 

It’s been a double-faced season for IU, as every game seems to end with a “but.” They started 2-0, but they nearly lost to both Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan. They lost the next two games, but they were games many expected them to drop. 

Now, they’ve beat up on Illinois, but Virginia embarrassed them just one week prior. 

The Hoosiers could desperately use a doubt-defying win, but the storybook style of motivation that worked for them on Oct. 17 is against them now. 

Last season, a faltering IU team brought Northwestern’s surprising top-25 season to a screeching halt with a 21-19 final in Bloomington. Just as IU had used their 2008 matchup with Illinois as inspiration, Northwestern will be looking to atone for last season’s upending in its homecoming game.

Still, a thirst for revenge can only go so far, and only execution, talent and desire will decide the game. 

When the Hoosiers stare into their purple-tinted reflection on Saturday, one question will undoubtedly be answered: Who wants this one most of all?

Prediction:

The Hoosiers are coming off their most convincing victory of the season against Illinois, as everything was clicking, both offensively and defensively. Now, they’ll face a more difficult opponent in Northwestern.

The Wildcats are seventh in the Big Ten in scoring offense and sixth in scoring defense, both several spots better than IU.

Two of Northwestern’s wins this year, however, have been against teams that are still winless. If junior quarterback Ben Chappell has half the game he had last week, the Hoosiers should be in prime position for a win.

IU 28 – NU 24

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