Hoosier fans were waiting for a measuring stick of how good this year's team is and we got it. Instead of taking a step forward by beating a quality team, they took two back with an embarrassing loss to Ball State 42-20.
Ball State is undefeated, but there was no reason the Hoosiers should not have won this game. The Cardinals, a pass-happy team running the spread offense, ran the ball all over the lot, amassing 224 yards. And they also put up 239 yards passing. The Hoosier offense couldn't keep up and didn't score in the second half.
The worst part of this game may be that 41,349 people were in the stadium to see it. IU football boosters, me included, have been crying for more fans to show up and watch this team as it has improved. We could win even more games and recruit better players if the fans created a better home field advantage. But who wants to play for IU after this game? And how many IU fans left Memorial Stadium Saturday night saying this team was no better than previous incarnations. How many left thinking last year was a fluke?
I said before the season started IU needed to beat one of the Big Ten's elite to take the next step. But that step also means winning games its supposed to win. The Hoosiers won't be taken seriously until they can do those two things.
Up next: Michigan State next Saturday. After this defensive performance, a win next week is becoming less likely.