Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hoosier Game Day

IU is in Kalamazoo, Mich. today for an evening game against Western Michigan. This is an important game. It is a chance for the Hoosiers to show the Big Ten they are not a doormat this year. Western Michigan is a tough team, even though they don't play in a BCS conference. And don't be fooled by last week's score -- West Virginia beat the Broncos 62-24 -- this team has some talent and can score points. They were 8-5 last year and have 15 seniors.

My concern, like those who cover IU football day-to-day, is the defense. The odds-makers are expecting a lot of scoring, and it is going to fall on the defense to get some stops late. This game may end up similar to an Arena Football game, where one stop will be enough to win the game. Case in point? Last week. Western Michigan ran up 277 total yards on the road against a top 5 team. Nearly all of those yards, 245, came through the air. Receiver Jamarko Simmons had 145 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The IU secondary will have some work to do.

But the Hoosier offense, clearly its strength, should flourish. West Virginia ran up 542 yards of total offense against the Broncos, including 316 yards rushing, an average of 7 yards per rush. Heisman candidate Steve Slaton had 109 of those yards and three touchdowns. West Virginia QB Pat White, another Heisman candidate, rushed for 97 yards and threw for 192. IU quarterback Kellen Lewis, receiver James Hardy and the core of running backs should have room to run.

I think the game will be close, but I think IU can pull this one out. IU will win it 35-31.

Some other previews are here, here and here.

The game begins at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. That's another channel I don't get on my cable, so I'll be next to my radio with the computer gamecasts on my screen. And of course, live blogging.

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