Saturday, October 10, 2009

Unfamiliar territory: Indiana-Virginia pre-game

The Hoosiers, and their fans, find themselves in an awkward position awaiting the 3:30 p.m. kick-off against Virginia. This match-up has become a must-win.

It's awkward because the Hoosiers haven't been in too many must-win games in the last 15 years. The last one came in 2007, when IU had to beat Purdue to secure a bowl bid.

This game became important when the Hoosiers won their first three games and nearly beat Michigan in week 4. All the sudden, the talk of post-season berth began, which just about everyone laughed about before the season started.

IU has been dismissed as irrelevant week after week despite its decent play. Again this week, they find themselves a road underdog. The spread is seven points, which astonishes me. Virginia lost to William and Mary and then No. 16 TCU at home, and Southern Mississippi on the road. They upset North Carolina on the road last week to get their first win, but I think IU again is underrated.

If home-field advantage is worth a field goal, I don't think Virginia is four points better than Indiana. Virginia has been outscored 78-96 on the season, while IU has outscored its opponents 127-122. The Cavaliers offense also has passed for 717 yards and rushed for 372 through four games, an average of 179 and 93 yards passing and rushing, respectively, per game.

The Hoosiers offense has been much more productive, averaging 233 and 131 yards passing and rushing, respectively, per game. And that has been against arguably better competition.

ESPN's Lee Corso, a former IU football coach, said Virginia should be on upset alert this week. I think IU will open some more eyes and show this win should not be considered an upset. They don't blow out Virginia, but remain in control of the game throughout.

Quarterback Ben Chappell and wide receiver Tandon Doss put points on the board and running back Demetrius McCray grinds out the clock. IU overcomes the Cavaliers' new confidence and their quarterback Jameel Sewell.

The Hoosiers move to 4-2 and complete a perfect non-conference season. IU wins 31-17.

The game is not on TV, but is available on I'm going to try to watch it on my computer, but absent that, I will be listening to the radio call and giving updates on Twitter.

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