Saturday, October 10, 2009

Total, complete breakdown

The IU athletic department may be wishing it didn't have to pay the travel expenses to Charlottesville, Va. The Hoosiers didn't play like they deserved the trip, losing 44-0 to Virginia heading into the fourth quarter.

I look like an idiot for predicting a convincing IU win. The Hoosiers lost the game on the first drive, when, after five plays, they turned the ball over. Virginia turned it into a touchdown four plays later. Virginia rolled up 337 yards 30 points in the first half.

Indiana never appeared a part of this game. And the defense appeared totally unprepared or unable to handle the UVA offense. Every Virginia receiver caught a pass with no defenders in the area and every running back had wide holes to run through. Simple plays went for big yards every time.

Meanwhile, every IU receiver caught a pass with five defenders ready to tackle him and every running back struggled to gain more than a yard. Quarterback Ben Chappell did not have much time to throw because on nearly every play defenders were running at him untouched.

This was a clunker at a time when the Hoosiers could not afford one. I'm afraid the Hoosiers may already have peaked this year and now are declining to the finish. This level of play will not win another game this season.

Maybe the talent levels are finally settling out for the season. IU was playing above their level the first five weeks, while Virginia was playing below it.

Next game: against Illinois 7 p.m. Oct. 17.

Update: Final score: UVA wins 47-7. Total yards: UVA-536, IU-267.

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.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back to reality

After watching Ohio State beat the Hoosiers thanks to only one player, I have mixed emotions.

Quarterback Terrell Pryor accounted for four touchdowns, three throwing and one rushing, which was more than enough to stop the Hoosiers. IU lost 33-14, but did not close to within 19 points until the last few seconds, when the offense scored a meaningless touchdown.

IU had to play a near-perfect game to upset the No. 9 Buckeyes and did not. Far from it. Two interceptions and a fumble killed three drives. IU was hanging around in the first half, thanks to OSU mistakes. The Buckeyes were up 10-0 quickly, but missed two field goals, which would have put the game out of reach. IU put together an impressive touchdown drive to close to within 10-7, but Ohio State scored a TD three plays later to push the lead back to 10. A Buckeye touchdown late in the second quarter off an interception probably was the knock-out blow.

I wish the team that pushed Michigan to the brink last week had showed up for this game. Last week's Hoosiers made 1.5 mistakes -- a missed field goal and the questionable interception late in the fourth quarter -- and proved their best game was good enough to win. I think if IU played OSU the same way, with few mistakes, the game would have been a lot closer.

I was eager to see what the Hoosiers' best game could do against Ohio State. And while an upset was unlikely, the Buckeye offense was not overpowering, at least not at first. Who knows what would have happened if IU had not committed the turnovers in the first half.

The good news is the toughest part of the schedule is over. IU travels to Virginia Oct. 10 for its final non-conference game of the year. The Cavaliers upset North Carolina on the road last week, but have several problems. The Hoosiers still have a good chance to win and move to 4-2.

The 3:30 p.m. game will be broadcast on It's probably safe to call the game a must-win if IU expects to play in a bowl game. The team that played against Michigan will have to make the trip east. The team that played Ohio State will lose.