For the first time since September, the IU football team and its fans know what it is like to win.
The Hoosiers (3-5, 1-4) ended their five game losing streak on Homecoming, defeating Northwestern 21-19 after suffering a heartbreaking loss in Evanston, Ill., a year ago.
Sophomore quarterback Ben Chappell, starting in place for injured junior Kellen Lewis, led the Hoosiers by running and throwing for a touchdown. Chappell spread the ball around well but completed the majority of his passes to freshmen Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher.
How do the Hoosiers initiate change? Glad you asked.
The IU football team has been having a rough go at stopping opposing offenses lately.
The Hoosiers (2-5, 0-4) have let up an even 100 points in their last two games, and an average of 40 points per game on their current five-game skid.
“I think we got banged up a little bit mentally,” junior safety Nick Polk said. “But the guys have come together, and we have said we are going to stick together and pull through this.”
Slowing the landslide of points won’t get any easier this Homecoming weekend, when the Hoosiers welcome to Bloomington the Northwestern Wildcats, a team with two dynamic facets to its offensive attack.
The first head on the Wildcats’ offensive front is tailback Tyrell Sutton.
Sutton comes into Saturday’s contest averaging just shy of 100 yards on the ground per game. But Sutton also comes out of the backfield to make big catches for NU. The Akron, Ohio, native has 28 grabs for 262 yards so far this season, with two touchdowns.
Sutton is a smaller back – at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds – than the last two backs to run over the Hoosiers: Shonn Greene of Iowa and Jason Ford of Illinois. Greene had 115 yards and a score in Bloomington on Oct. 11, and Ford had 172 yards and three scores last weekend against IU.
But senior safety Austin Thomas warned Sutton is bigger in person than what paper shows.
“Wait till you see this guy’s legs,” Thomas said. “He’s a thick guy. He is a little quicker in space than Shonn Greene and Ford, who we played the other night. But he’s quick; he’s a good back.”
Sutton helps to distract defenses from quarterback C.J. Bachér, who is equally formidable.
After Bachér lit up opposing teams for 3,656 yards, seventh-most in Big Ten history, Sporting News named the California native the Big Ten’s “Best Player Under Pressure.”
In seven games, Bachér has tallied solid offensive numbers, including a 112.6 passing efficiency, 1,545 yards through the air with 10 touchdowns. Bachér can also run – he has two rushing scores and 180 net yards.
IU kicker Austin Starr used to be automatic.
Last season especially. Experts tabbed him as one of the nation’s top kickers. A 40-yarder, a chip shot, it didn’t matter. Every boot was destined to split the uprights.
This year, though, Starr’s golden foot has vanished.
How could a finalist for the Lou Groza award – given to college football’s top kicker – meld into a Mike Vanderjagt? It’s perplexing, I know.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The IU football team was outplayed in seemingly
every facet of a football game possible Saturday, as they dropped their
fifth straight contest.
This defeat came at the hands of border rivals Illinois (4-3, 2-2), a 55-13 drubbing.
The Hoosiers (2-5, 0-4) were outgained 563 total yards to 313.
It is the fourth time on the skid IU allowed more than 40 points, while it has scored only 29 total in their last three games.
The Hoosiers were without starting quarterback Kellen Lewis who suffered a high-ankle sprain against Iowa last weekend. Replacing him was sophomore Ben Chappell.
In his first collegiate start, Chappell was 12 for 29 with 172 yards and no scores. The Bloomington native was sacked 4 times.
A missed block, a missed assignment or pouncing for the ball at the wrong time. That’s how the option can kill you.
IU was on the losing end of that formula when the Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) played Illinois (3-3, 1-2) a year ago at the Bloomington version of Memorial Stadium. Rashard Mendenhall, quarterback Juice Williams and wide receiver Arrelious Benn thoroughly exposed the IU defense, running for 288 yards.
This time around, expect more of the same.
Halting the negative momentum a four-game losing streak carries will
not be easy for the IU football team (2-4). Making the task more
difficult will be the possible absence of the Hoosiers’ offensive
catalyst, Kellen Lewis.
During practices this week, Lewis wore a protective gray immobilizing boot around his right ankle, nursing what IU coach Bill Lynch called a high-ankle sprain.
“(We) went through halftime, got it re-taped and all that, and we thought that it would loosen up and we’d get him going in the second half, and it never loosened up," Lynch said of Lewis' injury sustained against Iowa. “Some athletes bounce back pretty quickly. He really hasn’t been hurt much, so we haven’t really been through this in terms of how quickly he can bounce back. Certainly, we’re hopeful that a guy like that can bounce back quicker than our 300-pound guys, just because of his body type.”
It was all beginning to unfold – the Iowa game, the season, everything.
One blow and the Hoosiers’ defense is down, lying flat on the canvas. In more cases than one, it’s unable to gain consciousness before the 60 minutes expire.
Saying IU has trouble recovering from its opponent’s punches is an understatement. Whether it’s a run up the gut or a play-action pass, the Cream and Crimson’s corner is often on the losing side. We saw it especially against Ball State, Michigan State and Iowa.
It was barely into the third quarter during Saturday’s game against Iowa when the “boos” started coming down.
Eventually losing 45-9, the IU football team felt its fans show their displeasure simply by leaving, making the student section as empty as the North End Zone Project. For IU student junior Rich Lesser, the 2008 football season has shown the Hoosiers are once again comfortable at the bottom of the Big Ten.
“It’s what I expected,” Lesser said. “I didn’t think we’d be as good as last year, but I thought we may have a chance to be as good as last year. As of now, it doesn’t look too good.”
With a lack of support in the student section throughout their current four game losing streak, IU coach Bill Lynch urged the fan base during his weekly press conference Tuesday to continue to give the Hoosiers support regardless of the team’s 2-4 record.
For the fourth straight week, the IU football team found itself leaving
the gridiron on a sour note as the Iowa Hawkeyes stormed into
Bloomington and downed the Hoosiers with ease.
Last year, playing a team like Iowa was business as usual. But as evidenced by the half-empty Memorial Stadium in the third quarter, the deflated IU sideline and the 45-9 loss, the promise Lynch instilled in the program last year continues to slowly fade away.
MUNCIE – Ball State receiver Dante Love has made great progress in his
recovery from a career-ending spinal injury and might be released from
a rehabilitation center this week, coach Brady Hoke said.
Love, who took a head-on hit during the Cardinals’ 42-20 win against IU on Sept. 20, underwent surgery one day after the game.
MINNEAPOLIS – Converting on only one of 10 third downs and recording
just a single score, the IU football team’s offense sputtered to a 16-7
defeat on the road at Minnesota.
The loss shoots IU’s record below .500 at 2-3, and marks the team’s second straight Big Ten loss to open conference play at 0-2.
MINNEAPOLIS – Coming into Saturday’s matchup against Minnesota, it
looked as though the IU football team’s offense might be able to score
big against the host Golden Gophers.
The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) came into Saturday’s game ranked second in the conference in both total offense and rushing offense.
By contrast, Minnesota entered the contest ranked ninth in both total defense and rushing defense. Statistics aren’t always what they appear to be.
Despite the difference in rankings, the Gophers prevailed to defeat the Hoosiers, 16-7.
In the first half, the Hoosiers only held the ball for 9:27, and out of their seven possessions in that frame, the visitors from Bloomington went three-and-out four times, and none lasted more than three plays.
As a result, the Hoosiers were limited to 17 first-half plays as opposed to the 40 plays the Golden Gophers ran.