Monday, December 31, 2007

Disappointing return to the post-season

I'm not satisfied with just getting to a bowl game. Frankly, I was disgusted with IU's play in the first half. While the offense played better in the second half against a Cowboys team that was losing interest, there really wasn't much to take away from it.

The Hoosiers continue to have the same problem: if the defense could at least keep the score under control, there is a chance to win. That didn't happen tonight, and IU lost.

I would even argue, the Hoosiers should be somewhat embarrassed. The Cowboys flat-out torched IU in the first half. All the drives were long and took almost no time. OK St.'s first four touchdown drives each took less than 3 minutes. The IU defense was never dominating, but at least make the other team work for it. They gave up yards in bunches and could never figure out how to stop the OK St. option attack.

This is a downer after the big win against Purdue, but it could indicate better things to come next year. Hopefully that will include some improved defense.

Happy New Year.

IU will try an onside kick...

But IU doesn't get it. First down Cowboys. The hand-off gains five. Second down hand-off gains a few more. Third down and IU calls timeout with 2:10 to go.

Auburn scores a touchdown in third quarter to take a 10-7 lead on Clemson.

The third down pass is caught at the 3. It's almost intercepted. The QB fumbles trying to score, but the Cowboys recover. Second and goal. Another hand-off, but no gain. IU calls timeout. The radio guys are happy IU outscored OK St. 17-7 in the second half, but that means nothing to me. Most of the points came when OK St. was in a prevent and trying to run the clock out.

Third and goal. The option play goes for a gain of only three to the 1. Fourth and goal and IU calls its last timeout. Finally the hand-off and the TD. That wasn't really necessary, but IU was using timeouts so I suppose OK St. had to do it. The Cowboys still had the starters in, and they were throwing the ball on the last drive up 15 with less than 2 minutes left.

The extra point is good. OK St. leads 49-27.

IU takes the kick-off to the 47. 41 seconds left. Lewis throws to Means over the middle for an nine-yard gain. Lewis throws to Hardy, who runs for a first down to the 30. 12 seconds left. Lewis throws to Bailey, who catches it for a TOUCHDOWN!! IU goes for a two point conversion and it's no good. OK St. leads 49-33. 1 second left.

Was that really necessary? IU still has to kick off. It's fielded and that's it. Final score: OK St. wins 49-33.

Another offensive possession

First down. 18 points down. 5 minutes left.

Lewis throws to Means for five yards. James Bailey makes a catch on second down for another five yards to get the first down. Lewis gives to Thigpen who runs all the way to the 25. Lewis gives to Payton, who is dropped for no gain. Second and 10. Lewis throws incomplete. Third and 10. Lewis runs it to the 14 for a first down. IU is called for illegal procedure. A five-yard penalty. 3:31 to go. First and 15 at the 19. Lewis throws for Hardy and its incomplete. Second and 15. Lewis throws incomplete again. Third and 15. Lewis throws incomplete. Fourth and 15. Field goal attempt coming. Kick is good. It's 42-27 Cowboys.

It's a two-score game with 3:08 to go.

End the agony

There is 7:02 to go. IU is down by three scores.

OK St. runs the kick to the 32 after the return man falls. The Cowboys are flagged for blocking in the back, taking the ball back to the 21. First down is a run for a half-yard loss. Second and 11, but the clock is running. Another run for a gain of four. Third and seven. Another run for a gain of six. Fourth down and another punt. 5:11 to go.

IU gets the punt at the IU 34. The snap was high and the punter was bumped, but no call.

Make it respectable

A score would be nice, but IU likely doesn't have enough time to tie the game. At least try to make it close...

First and 10 from the 20. Thigpen runs for a three-yard loss. Second and 13. Are they running the clock out? Lewis throws incomplete. Third and 13. Lewis runs up the sideline for the first down and goes out of bounds at the 38. I actually saw a highlight of the game on ESPN. The 15 seconds are all OK St.

Payton runs for seven yards on first down. Payton runs for a first down near the OK St. 40. It's a gain of 14. Means throws to Lewis after a reverse and it's a gain of 16. Another first down. Lewis runs to the 20 for a gain of five. 7:45 to go. Second down. Lewis tries to hit Hardy, but he can't catch it. Radio guys say the defenders have hands all over him, but the officials won't call it. Third down. Lewis throws to Means, who can't catch it, but a flag comes out. Pass interference on OK St. First and goal at the Cowboy 5. Lewis gives to Josiah Sears who runs for the TOUCHDOWN!! Extra point is good. OK St. leads 42-24. IU is flagged for celebration in the endzone and must kick from the 15 yard line.

Time is running out

I think IU just doesn't have it today. Not only are they overmatched, but they aren't playing very well either. There has been nothing consistent about either the offense or the defense.

First and 10 OK St. at their 43 yard line. First down is a run for a gain of one. Second and nine. The pass is incomplete. Third and nine. The pass is complete for a gain of 10. Wouldn't the corners want to get a little aggressive here since they are so far behind?

On first down, another completion, but OK St. is flagged for delay of game for throwing the ball after the catch. Second and 18. The hand-off goes for a gain of four. Third and 15. The pass is a screen, but IU reads it perfectly. It's fourth and 15 and the Cowboys punt. It goes into the endzone. 10:31 to go.

I suppose IU could score 25 in this quarter

Teams have scored four times in one quarter before. Can IU stage a miracle comeback?

It's third and nine. The pass is complete, but he fumbles. IU recovers. First down Hoosiers. Lewis is sacked before he can throw. Second and 20. Payton runs for a gain of 10. Third and 10 at the IU 27. Lewis rolls left and throws incomplete. IU punts. It goes out of bounds near the 41.

Cowboys have the ball again

First and 10 OK St. at the 29. A run ends with a fumble, but the Cowboys recover. It went forward and now it's second and three. Another bad break. The pitch on second down gets the first down. IU can't defend the option at all.

First down and the hand-off gains three to the 47. Second and seven. Hand-off for a gain of five. Third and two. It's a pass that's incomplete. Fourth down and OK St. punts. Flag down as the punt is fair caught at the 15. IU is offsides. First down OK St. Radio guys get it right ... inexcusable. If the Cowboys score here, the game may be over.

First and 10. The pass is incomplete. Second and 10. Hand-off goes for 10 yards and a first down at the IU 33. The next QB run is a gain of three even though IU is close to a sack. Second and seven. Hand-off again goes to the 4. Flag is down ... holding on the Cowboys. Second and eight now. Another run, but IU stops them for a loss. Third and nine. The third quarter ends. OK St. 42-IU 17.

Trading touchdowns doesn't help

The IU offense gets the ball back after the Cowboys score in just over 4:13. That was their longest drive of the game in terms of time. So much for forcing a three-and-out.

They squib kick and IU returns it to the 32. First and 10. Lewis throws to Fisher on the sideline for a gain of two. Second and eight. Thigpen runs for six to the 40. Third and two. Lewis throws incomplete from the shotgun. That sounds like what happened in the first half. The punt goes to the OK St. 28 yard line, 4:38 to go in the third quarter.

Another stop and IU is back in business

Did I speak too soon again? If the IU defense can get a quick three and out and score again, we'll have a game again.

Kick-off goes to the 20. OK St.'s offense is back on the field. First down is a run up the middle for two yards. Second and eight. It's a throw to the sidelines for a first down at the 32. Another pass is caught at the IU 28. It was a great catch for a 39-yard gain. Another throw to the sideline and it's almost picked off again. Second and 10. A run for another six yards. Third and four. QB run is for two, bringing up fourth down. No field goal attempt here. Fourth and two. A throw to the tight end for a first down at the 14. A hand-off goes to the 9. Second and five. Another inside hand-off, but this time it's a two-yard loss. Third and seven. A throw to the endzone for a touchdown. More bad coverage combined with a perfect throw.

Extra point is good. OK St. leads 42-17. There goes the momentum.

Attendance is 48,892, almost a sell-out.

IU offense on the field

A really short field for the Hoosier offense this time. That was the first Cowboy punt.

First and 10. Lewis gives to Thigpen who runs left on a sweep to the 12, a gain of 13. First down. Lewis gives to Thigpen again, who gets another three yards to the 9. Second and seven. Lewis throws to Payton, but it's incomplete. Third and seven. IU needs a touchdown.

Lewis throws to Hardy on a sideline pass. He loses a yard. Field goal attempt ... It's a fake! Lewis takes the snap and throws to the kicker, Austin Starr, who runs to the 1 yard line. He made two great moves to get the first down. First and goal. Lewis gives to Payton who gets to the one-foot line. Second down and inches. Lewis scores on the QB sneak. TOUCHDOWN!! OK St. was offsides, but that doesn't matter. Extra point is good. OK St. leads 35-17.

Cowboys have it to start the half

OK St. gets a good return, but is called for an illegal block in the back and must start at the 16 yard line. First down is a run for about three yards. Second down is a pitch for a big gain, but another penalty for a block in the back against OK St. That makes it second and 14 from the 12. Inside hand-off goes for a gain of one. Third and 13. Signs of life maybe?

The third down pass is almost intercepted. It's incomplete and OK St. must punt from the endzone. Another flag for an OK St. false start. The ball is on the 7. The punt is shanked and goes out of bounds at the OK St. 26. Awesome field position!

My kingdom for some defense...

It's really hard to say the IU defense was tired going into the locker room, because they weren't on the field very long. OK St.'s scoring drives lasted 2:16, 2:33, 2:05, 2:54, and 3:07. The Cowboys gained yards in huge chucks the entire half. There was nothing really to speak of for the Hoosier defense except the interception at the end of the half.

It was downright ugly. I'm trying to remain upbeat.

IU kicks off to start the half.

Hoosiers may be overmatched

The Cowboys look a lot better than their 6-6 record. Or IU looks a lot worse than its 7-5 record. OK St. scored TDs on each of their possessions in the first half.

Lewis throws to Hardy for about six yards on first down. It goes to the 26 yard line. Lewis hits Means for seven more and a first down. Under 2 minutes to go. Lewis throws incomplete and for a bonus, IU gets called for holding. First and 20. Lewis throws deep to James Bailey but its incomplete after a big hit. Second and 20, 1:31 to go. Lewis throws incomplete looking for Hardy. Third down and 20. Lewis hits Means for 10. But it's still fourth and 10 with 1:03 to go. OK St. calls timeout to stop the clock.

The punt goes to the OK St. 26. First down is a run for nine yards. Second down is a QB option run for the first down. First down again and its a throw to the IU 41. Another first down with 21 seconds left. The next throw is intercepted!! The defense hasn't quit yet.

IU takes a knee with 10 seconds to go. Halftime -- Oklahoma State 25, Indiana 10.

Better, but IU needs a stop

Where was that drive in the first quarter?

OK St. starts at the 36 yard line. On first down, the Cowboys throw a pass to the IU 40. The next play is a seven-yard run. Quick snap again and they run for a first down to the 25 yard line. Another QB run to the 20. The defense can't maintain the momentum. It seems I'm typing the same thing every time the Cowboys get the ball.

Another few plays and an IU penalty gets the ball to the IU 2 for first and goal. A QB sneak goes to the 1. First half is almost over. QB sneak again for the TD. The officials review the play and it's upheld. Extra point is good. Cowboys lead 35-10.

This one may be out of reach. You can't make any adjustments for what OK St. is doing.

Somebody needs to make a play

Right now they're getting dominated in all phases of the game. It could be over by halftime unless the Hoosiers start to score.

Kick off is run to the 20. 10:07 to go in the first half. First and 10 and Lewis throws incomplete. Second down and IU is called for delay of game. Second and 15. Lewis runs up field to about the 21. A gain of six brings third and nine. Lewis throws to James Bailey, who runs passed mid-field. First and 10 at the OK St. 48. A hand-off to Thigpen for three yards on first down. Second and seven. Lewis run to the 41, but a flag is down. It's holding against IU. Second and 17 from the IU 45. Lewis throws to Fisher who gets to the OK St. 43. Another flag is down...personal foul against the Cowboys. The 15-yard penalty takes the ball inside the OK St. 30.

First down from the 27. Lewis drops the ball, picks it up, throws complete to Payton, who loses three yards. Second and 13. Lewis rolls left and throws incomplete. Third and 13. What happened to James Hardy? Only one catch for 14 yards. It came on the first drive.

Third and long. IU calls timeout. They're in field goal range, but the Hoosiers need touchdowns. Lewis is leading the team in two major offensive categories: 91 yards passing, 59 yards rushing.

Lewis throws to Hardy who gets the first down inside the 15. Finally, the big guy gets a pass.

First and 10 at the 13. Hand-off to Payton goes to the 2 yard line. First and goal. Lewis gives to Payton who goes nowhere. Second and goal from the 4. Lewis in the shotgun. He throws incomplete, looking for Hardy. Third and goal. Lewis throws to Thigpen in the flat who gets in...TOUCHDOWN!!! Extra point is good. OK St. leads 28-10, 5:35 to go in the half.

Cowboys have a short field again

Why didn't Lewis or another back run on fourth down? A pass seems unnecesary when you need less than a yard. It's another bad break.

First down at their 43 yard line. A pitch to the outside is a gain of two. Second and eight. IU intercepts the pass, but they're offside, so it doesn't count. Second and three. Good news, Tracy Porter is back in the game.

The second and three pass is incomplete. IU got some pressure on the OK St. QB. Third and three. They need a stop here...

It's an option run by the QB for a first down to the IU 36. Still no defense...

On first and 10, OK St. its a pass to the sideline for a good gain. But a flag is down. OK St. is called for holding. First and 14 from the 40. A throw for a first down on a gain of 15. First down at the 25. A run goes for a loss of six after the running back tries to cut back. But another flag. It was picked up. Second and 16. Sideline pass for 11 to the 20. These are all short passes that are going for long runs. Third down. Another throw to the sideline for a first down to the IU 14.

First down and nearing another TD. They throw into the endzone, but the receiver is out of bounds. Second and 10. Another throw into the endzone and its incomplete. Third and 10. Throw into the endzone for a TD. The receiver wasn't covered. Now its 28-3 after the extra point.

Second quarter begins...

Time to start over. OK St. started strong, but the Hoosiers can make up for it. A good drive here is needed. And I though the Cowboy defense was lousy...

Second and 10. Lewis runs up the sideline to the IU 48. Nice play there after the pressure was on again. First down. Ray Lewis runs and loses a ton to the 40. Second and 18. Lewis rolls right, avoid a couple tackles and goes down for maybe a gain of one. Third and a mile. Lewis throws to Andrew Means, who dives for the first down. A gain of 17 on the pass into the flat.

After a timeout, a first down play. But OK St. is challenging the spot. They don't think it's a first down. The officials' review takes a while, and the call is reversed. It's fourth and less than one at the 43. IU goes for it. Lewis from the shotgun throws incomplete. Turnover.

The rout is on...

The radio guys have said the 40-some day layoff is to blame for some of the defensive mistakes. I don't believe that. The Hoosiers had trouble defending the option against Illinois and pretty much defending anything all year. Today, they're being exposed again. Are the nerves getting to them?

The last OK St. drive lasted less than 2 minutes.

Kick off is taken from the endzone to the 16. First down is a run by Thigpen for a loss of about a half yard. Second and 10. Lewis throws incomplete on a sideline pass for Thigpen. Third and 10. Lewis from the shotgun runs for the first down to the 29 yard line. A gain of 14.

On first down, Thigpen runs for no gain again. End of the first quarter.

Some defense? No.

First down and the Cowboys get four yards on a running play. IU is called for offsides and now it's first and five from the IU 49. A run to the left goes for six yards and a first down. Shotgun. A screen pass goes all the way to the IU 19. Radio guys say there were two or three missed tackles.

First down. Cowboys get seven yards on a short pass. Second and three is a run for about two, just short of the first down. Third down is a QB sneak for a first down. First down is another QB run for a touchdown. Now its 21-3 Cowboys after the extra point.

I spoke too soon

Even when the Hoosiers get a break, it goes against them. OK St. saw something on film that shows IU is vulnerable to the pass. All the previews said the Cowboys ran the ball better than most. So far today, they are throwing the ball all over the lot. And both drives have been quick -- each have been about 2 minutes.

4:38 to go in the first quarter.

Kick off is taken in the endzone. IU starts from the 20. First down and Payton runs it to the 23. Second and seven. Porter has a head injury and is questionable. Lewis throws long to James Hardy, who can't catch it. Third and seven. The crowd groaned like there was interference, but the radio guys don't think so. Lewis throws incomplete again. Another punt.

OK St. takes the punt to about their 46.

How 'bout some defense

The IU defense has to step up here. The last thing we need is to get behind early.

First down and OK St. throws incomplete down field. Second and 10. Quick throw to the sideline for a first down at the IU 43. Good play by the IU defense on first down. They stop the QB run for a loss of two. Second and 12. Throw for another first down to the tight end. It's a gain of 19. First down. Option run for a gain to the IU 20. Corner Tracy Porter is down and that's bad. He took a shot to the head from another IU defender, according to the radio guys.

So far the Cowboys have done pretty much whatever they have wanted. The IU defense has offered little resistance. OK St. has more yards passing than rushing 52-37. Porter walked off the field with an arm around one of the coaches.

Second and three at the 20. A run outside to the IU 10. First down. A run inside to the nine yard line. Flag is down...personal foul for a late hit against OK St. Finally, a break. Second down and goal from the 25. Pass into the endzone for a TD. Extra point is good. 14-3.

So far no defense

This could turn into an Arena Football game really quick. IU's defense stayed on the sideline for most of that drive. Even the one good play was marred by a penalty. The offense has to keep putting points on the board.

The shortest play on that drive was a gain of three yards. UGH!!

The kick-off is a touchback. IU will start at the 20. On first down, Lewis throws it away. On second down, Lewis throws it to Thigpen out of the backfield for no gain. Third and 10. Pass is incomplete. IU will punt. OK St. takes the punt to the 47 yard line.

A decent first drive, but...

The IU offense has to do something about the pressure. OK St. put some heat on Kellen Lewis on a couple occasions. For the most part they looked good. I would like to see some more of the running game, too.

Kick-off is taken to the OK St. 33 yard line. First down is an option play for a gain of seven. There's a surprise, all the Cowboys do is run the ball. Second down is the option again to IU 48 for a first down. The next play is a pass for a gain of three. Second and seven. A run for a loss, but IU is flagged for a face mask. Its the 15-yard variety and takes the ball to the IU . On first down, a pass to the tight-end gets a first down inside the 30. Another run and this time, the Cowboys get to the IU 3 for a gain of 14.

First and goal on the quick snap and its a touchdown. The extra point is good. 7-3 OK St.

First drive

Oregon has hung more than half a hundred on South Florida. Oh, how the once mighty have fallen.

OK St. is the home team, wearing the orange jerseys. IU is wearing the road whites with red pants. The Cowboys won the toss and deferred.

IU takes the opening kick. IU loses three yards on the first play, a hand-off to Marcus Thigpen. James Hardy gets a first down near the 35 on a second and long pass from Kellen Lewis. Lewis hits Nick Sexton near the 41 for a gain of about seven on first down. On second down, Lewis is flushed out of the pocket, but runs for 14 yards. It's first down again, and Thigpen takes the hand-off for three yards. On second and seven, Lewis throws it to Ray Fisher for a gain of five to the OK St. 37 yard line. Third and two. Bryan Payton makes the catch at the 31 to get the first down.

First down. Fisher gets it on an end-around for a gain of three. The defense contained well on that play. Second and seven. Lewis hands to Thigpen, who gets another three or so. It's third and four at the OK St. 25. Lewis throws incomplete with the pressure coming.

Field goal attempt coming...its GOOD!! IU leads 3-0 with 10:41 to go in the first quarter.

Welcome to post-season football

Hey Hoosier fans. Today is the day. For the first time in 14 years, IU is playing in a bowl game. The Oklahoma State Cowboys await in the Insight Bowl.

Kick-off is coming in a few minutes. Since my wife is sick, I'm spending New Year's Eve in the man cave, listening to the radio call while watching a littany of other bowl games.

The CBS Sportsline gamecast is available here. ESPN is here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

College football playoffs semi-finals

After the opening round of the Illinois Hoosier playoff provided some great games, we move to the semi-finals. These games are played on neutral fields in BCS bowl stadiums.

Game 5 (scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Sugar Bowl)

(1) Ohio State v. (5) Georgia

The Buckeyes come into the Super Dome in New Orleans on a high after beating Kansas, the feel-good story of the season. Meanwhile, Georgia went down to the wire in Norman, Okla. to advance. This is where Georgia fans traditionally hope to be playing on Jan. 1.

It may seem like a home game for Georgia, but Ohio State may be good enough to overcome it. The OSU defense will contain Georgia's running game, and the Bulldogs are not playing the spread offense that gave them fits against Illinois. Georgia hangs in there, but the Buckeyes win 24-17 and advance to the Orange Bowl and the national championship.

Game 6 (scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Fiesta Bowl)

(7) USC v. (3) Virginia Tech

The Hokies are the home team in this match-up because of the higher seed. But the Trojans will bring more fans to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. USC also has all pistons firing at this point. A healthy offense and nasty defense will give Tech fits. The Tech offense was never that impressive throughout the year, leaving them susceptible.

USC looks like a No. 1 team and stomps Virginia Tech 28-7.

The national championship game is set: (7) USC v. (1) Ohio State at 8 p.m. Jan. 1.

See how easy that was? The remaining bowl games will go on as scheduled throughout December and on New Year's Day. The number of teams in the big games does not change and the number of teams in the lesser games doesn't change.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Let the college football playoffs begin...

Welcome to the first annual Illinois Hoosier college football playoff with the theme: Because I don't like being part of the bowl subdivision.

The rules are simple: The top eight teams in the final BCS standings qualify. First round games are played at the higher seed's home field. Semi-final and final games are played in two BCS bowl stadiums. This year, the semi-finals will be at the Sugar and Fiesta bowls and the championship at the Orange Bowl. The Rose Bowl chose to stay out of the Ill. Hoosier system (according to my imagination) and preserve the traditional match-up.

Here are the match-ups for round one in bracket order (Bear with me on game dates):

--No. 1 Ohio State v. No. 8 Kansas in Columbus, Ohio
--No. 4 Oklahoma v. No. 5 Georgia in Norman, Okla.

--No. 3 Virginia Tech v. No. 6 Missouri in Blacksburg, Va.
--No. 2 LSU v. No. 7 USC in Baton Rouge, La.

Notable: The Rose Bowl chooses not to participate and preserves the Big Ten-Pac 10 match-up, inviting Arizona State and Illinois, who finished 11 and 13, respectively, in the BCS standings.

Game 1 (scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 7)

A rare Friday night match-up. Virginia Tech welcomes Missouri and looks to continue its season in tribute to the fallen students in last spring's shootings. Missouri is coming off its Big 12 title game loss to Oklahoma, while Virginia Tech beat Boston College for the ACC championship.

Missouri's spread offense can score, but defense wins championships. Virginia Tech puts the focus on defense and special teams and can back it up. The Hokies are on a roll and winners of five in a row. They will run the ball and keep the Mizzou spread offense on the sidelines. The tigers score some points, but the home field advantage and some big plays on special teams help Tech move on to the semi-finals. Va. Tech wins 21-17.

Game 2 (scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 8)

The Ohio State band dots the I for the first time in recent memory at home in December as the Buckeyes welcome Kansas, a team no one expected to get this far. Ohio State is very tough to beat at home, but KU has an offense that can score points. OSU hasn't played many, if any, top tier opponents. But other than their loss to Illinois, which came at home, they have crushed everyone. Their defense totally destroyed the Michigan offense in their last regular season game.

Kansas on the other hand can put points on the board. Their lack of big game experience will be their downfall here. The Jayhawks' only loss came against Missouri, which kept them out of the Big 12 title game. That was a game on the biggest of stages and the high-powered offense could not get it done. Ohio State wins this one 24-13.

Game 3 (scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Dec. 8)

Georgia, one of the hottest teams in the country at the end of the season, heads to Big 12 champion Oklahoma. These two teams appear almost evenly matched. Both offenses are tough, as are both defenses. Oklahoma has lost corner and punt returner Reggie Smith to a broken toe. The Sooners will have to stop running back Knowshon Moreno, who has more than 1,200 yards for the Bulldogs.

Because this game is so closely matched, it could be ripe for an upset. Georgia, winners of six in a row, moves on to the semis with a late field goal. Bulldogs win 24-21.

Game 4 (scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 8)

Many predicted LSU v. USC would play for the national championship at the beginning of the season. But key losses by both teams made this an opening round game. LSU is tough to beat at home and the team has some momentum after winning the SEC championship. But USC is healthy again and not up against a spread offense like the one Oregon runs. The USC defense shuts down LSU's offense and scores the mild upset, 35-21.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's official

The Hoosiers are going to the Insight Bowl! They will face the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are 6-6.

Ticket information is here.

Congrats to the Hoosier football team. It's about time.

The day is here...

The Hoosiers may find out in a couple hours which (I prefer optimism) bowl game it will play in later this month. The final BCS standings are due out at about 8 p.m. Eastern time. They will be released on Fox following the station's NFL coverage.

CBS Sportsline already is projecting Ohio State will play LSU in the national championship game, based on the latest AP poll that already has been released.

Big Ten teams Penn State and Wisconsin already have accepted bids to the Alamo and Outback bowls, respectively. But the rest of the Big Ten's slots may be determined by the fate of Illinois. With Ohio State likely going to the National Championship, that leaves an opening for the Rose Bowl to fill. The Rose Bowl committee likes to preserve the traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 match-up and USC already should be there after winning the Pac 10 title. Several pundits have wondered whether Illinois will get the nod so there is a Big Ten-Pac 10 game. Others have speculated Georgia could get there as well.

Only a few hours to go...

Note: Once the BCS standings are released, I will begin the first annual Illinois Hoosier college football playoffs. This year's theme -- Because I don't like being part of the bowl subdivision.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More bowl projections has updated its bowl projections. Two ESPN college football analysts are giving their opinions. One has IU in the Insight bowl and the other has them in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The Insight Bowl projection has the Hoosiers taking on Texas A&M. The Las Vegas Bowl slot has them facing BYU.

The Las Vegas Bowl slot is different from all the other projections. That indicates the analyst, in this case Ivan Maisel, believes IU will not get into a bowl tied to the Big Ten. The Las Vegas Bowl pits the Mountain West Conference champ against the Pac 10's fourth or fifth team. IU would get the slot because the Pac 10 would not have enough bowl eligible teams.

Maisel predicted Purdue would get the Insight Bowl slot. The writer who put IU in the Insight Bowl, Mark Schlabach, has Purdue in the Texas Bowl.

Monday, November 26, 2007

IU locks up its head coach

IU announced today head football coach Bill Lynch will be staying after this season. He signed a four-year deal that AP reported included a $250,000 base salary and about $300,000 in additional payments for promotional activities.

Lynch took over in the worst of circumstances last summer and performed admirably. He led the team to its best season since 1993 and is almost certainly heading to a bowl game. The question remains whether Lynch can continue to win games. This team was recruited by Coach Hep and now Lynch must begin getting his own players.

The future looks bright, we'll see if Bill Lynch can continue the momentum.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hoosiers going west for New Years?

Projections indicate the IU football team should be playing in Arizona on New Year's Eve.

The Hoosiers' first bowl berth in 14 years is expected to come from the Insight Bowl. The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The game pits the sixth Big Ten team against the sixth team from the Big 12. Both and have predicted IU will play Oklahoma State in the game. Links to both are here and here. A poll on the Insight Bowl Web site shows the overwhelming majority (about 66 percent) of more than 1,000 voters want Michigan State in the game. Indiana has received the second most votes, with about 17 percent. Both sites predict MSU will play in the Motor City Bowl, which is in Detroit and a short drive from East Lansing.

Oklahoma State's season is over. The Cowboys are 6-6 and coming off a thumping by Oklahoma, 49-17. Last year, Texas Tech won the Insight Bowl 44-41 in overtime over Minnesota.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bowl info from IU

Here is a Q&A posted by the IU Athletics Department giving some basic information about the prospects of IU getting a bowl bid.

Among the highlights:

  • • No decision from the bowl committees is expected until after Dec. 2, when the other conference championships have been decided. (Another reason the Big Ten should stretch its schedule through Thanksgiving.)
  • • The Big Ten has seven contracted bowl slots and eight teams with a record of 7-5 or better.
  • • The bowl committees have no obligation to select a team based on order of finish. The Rose Bowl gets the Big Ten champion (Ohio State). The other six bowls pick teams in the following order: Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight and Motor City.

It appears the Hoosiers have at least another two more nervous weeks before learning their fate.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How big is a bowl bid for IU football?

What would it mean for IU football to receive a bowl bid this season? My thinking is it could be the second-most important post-season berth in school history.

The first would be the 1967 Rose Bowl, which IU honored this season.
IU has a history and reputation of not being competitive in Big Ten football. The Hoosiers helped perpetuate the stereotype that the Big Ten is the big two (Ohio State and Michigan) and the little nine. The team has been a consistent doormat, in many cases a power-puff opponent for Homecoming or an easy game before a tough one. The '67 Rose Bowl team proved IU could play big time football, but the following 40 years proved the team was inconsistent at best. While Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Iowa and even Northwestern were winning Rose Bowl and other bowl berths, IU was languishing. A win in the 1979 Holiday Bowl was a highlight, along with Bill Mallory's run of bowl appearances in the 1980s. But there never really was a reason for a blue chip player to pick IU over, say, Michigan or Purdue.

This season proves the IU program is turning around and moving toward competitiveness. Even the majority of IU's losses this year were close. You could easily argue the Hoosiers could have eight or nine wins -- close games at Northwestern and against Penn State come to mind.I think high school football players around the Midwest are paying more attention to Indiana football this year. Kellen Lewis is becoming a marquee player and James Hardy already has achieved that status despite relative obscurity. Their offense can score a lot of points, when taking care of the ball, which will spark the interest of blue chip offensive players. A television appearance in December also will help.More importantly, this season can be the building block of several years of good football in Bloomington. IU does not have to be the doormat. Northwestern has ended its decades of doormat status.

What IU must do is maintain the momentum -- prove this is not a fluke.Someday, maybe next season, I would like to see IU go to a place like Michigan Stadium and win a game. There's no doubt the team would be an underdog, but they are good enough to make some breaks and do something no one expects. It would be Coach Bill Lynch's biggest win ever and may bring Indiana University some national attention. Case in point: Illinois. A win at Ohio State and all the sudden the Illini are the next great Big Ten team. Look at Kansas -- undefeated and surprising all the Big 12 powerhouses.

It's not as unlikely as it sounds. IU fans are just too used to failure in football. We demand excellence in Assembly Hall, why not in Memorial Stadium?What do you think? How will 2007 figure into the health of IU football?

Here is a link to the IU athletic department photo gallery from the IU-Purdue game.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


The Hoosiers got the job done today, beating Purdue 27-24. IU finishes the year 7-5 and in position for its first bowl invitation since 1993.

The game was not without its tense moments. IU began the fourth quarter with a 24-10 lead after Purdue scored its first touchdown of the game with a couple minutes left in the third quarter. Then as the fourth quarter unfolded, IU nearly pulled off a collapse of Biblical proportions. With about four minutes to go, Purdue scored the tying touchdown, following an IU fumble. The previous two scores came after the IU offense could not get much done at all.

But the Hoosiers picked themselves up off the mat with the game on the line and converted a couple big third downs with the clock running down to set up a 49-yard field goal attempt. Austin Starr's kick, a career-long, was good and the Hoosiers had the lead with 30 seconds to go. Purdue could not get anything going and the game ended with the students rushing the field.

This is a milestone victory for IU football. After being destitute for more than a decade, they finally have something positive to talk about. The Cream and Crimson are almost certainly going to be on TV next month in a post-season game. This one's for Hep, the IU fans who withstood so much misery, and the players, who deserve it after such a tough offseason. Congrats.

The win moved IU into a tie for seventh with a 3-5 Big Ten record. Iowa finishes ahead of them in the standings, but the Hawkeyes overall record is 6-6. Bowl rules state all 7-5 teams must be selected for bowl games before any 6-6 teams may go.

Photos are available here and final stats are here.

Another alma mater has a big game

My beloved high school, Carmel High School in Mundelein, Ill., has another chance to get to the Illinois state football finals tonight. They play Lake Zurich High School at 7 p.m. in Mundelein. Ironically, I would have gone to LZ if I didn't go to Carmel. My family lives in the Lake Zurich district and I went to Lake Zurich Junior High School.

Carmel is 11-2 and coming off a quarterfinal shut-out of De La Salle. It is the third semi-final appearance for the Corsairs. Carmel is 1-1 in those games. The win came in 2003, when Carmel won its first football state championship.

Good luck tonight Coach Bitto. A win and Carmel plays for the 7A state championship at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.

Clear purpose today

There's not much to talk about today when Indiana plays Purdue for the Old Oaken Bucket. Beat the Boilers, get a bowl bid.

Of course that is much easier written than done. Purdue can scores lots of points and the IU defense is not the shut-down type the Pittsburgh Steelers employ in the NFL. The Hoosiers will have to bend, but refuse to break and try to keep the score at a manageable level. That will let the offense play its game. Keep the turnovers to a minimum and the Hoosiers should be in it.

It would be a great victory, especially in Bloomington. IU wants very badly to have something to cheer for in the fall and this year could attract the fans they need to re-establish the football program.

IU will be honoring the 1967 Rose Bowl team, the only Hoosier team to ever get there, and wearing throw-back uniforms (pictured). The photo is from

Win it for Hep ... win it for 13 ... win it for the bucket ... win it because it's Purdue. IU has won the bucket only once in the last 10 years.

Side note: IU should be rooting for Michigan to beat Ohio State this weekend. That may be the best scenario for a bowl, especially if IU can't get win number seven. A Michigan win puts the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl and OSU may still be able to slip into a BCS game with two loses. That leaves an extra bowl bid for the Hoosiers to grab. It may be unlikely, but if OSU wins, Michigan definately is going to the Capital One Bowl and IU will have to battle for the remaining spots.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Reflections on the Ball State victory

I took the picture in the previous post from the Club Level at Memorial Stadium. Thanks to my wife, who procured the tickets, we were able to make the trip back to B-town for the game. I must say the press box is an impressive place to watch a football game.

Not only is it enclosed, but has plush seats much more suitable than the benches in the grandstand and a free food buffet. There were several TVs in our section, one showing essentially what appears on the scoreboard video screen, another showing ESPN and a third showing Big Ten Network. And speakers posted at several places allowed us to listen to the IU football radio call.

They were not luxury boxes, but I preferred this set-up to a luxury box.

My only complaint was that I felt separated from the rest of the fans. It didn't seem polite to clap along with IU fight song and it was difficult to hear the band when they played. There were cheers for touchdowns and defensive stops, but it didn't seem the same as when I used to sit outside in the student section.

It still was a wonderful experience. I would highly recommend it.

Note: The picture above is of the construction project at Memorial Stadium, which will enclose the north end of the grandstand. I took this one as well.

IU football turning the corner

The Indiana Hoosiers play Northwestern Saturday in Evanston, Ill. For the first time in many years, an IU football game in November will have significant meaning. Check out this interesting story that marries the importance of the game with the heartache both teams have shouldered.

A lot is on the line for both teams. The Hoosiers (6-4) became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 last weekend. They beat Ball State 38-20 in Bloomington to guarantee at least a .500 record. In '94, the team beat Purdue on the last week of the season to finish 6-5, but received no bowl bid. A win against the Wildcats would guarantee a 7-5 record, which puts them in much better position for that 13th game.

The Wildcats also are looking to get bowl eligible. At 5-5, the team needs to win their last two games to get to 7-5. Ten of the 11 Big Ten teams are .500 or better, meaning they all have a chance to become bowl eligible. The Big Ten has only seven bowl tie-ins and once those are gone, it is probably just dumb luck if a Big Ten team gets a bid.

This is the week for the Hoosiers to get win seven. I wouldn't want to go into the Bucket game with the additional pressure of needing a win to get a bowl bid. Northwestern is coming off two loses in a row, at Purdue and against Iowa. They beat Michigan State by two in East Lansing and Minnesota by one at home.

Northwestern has given up more points than it has scored overall this season. They score about 26 points per game and give up slightly more than 30. If the Hoosiers can get the offense going, especially early, they should have a good chance of winning, even though the game is on the road. IU averages more than 32 points per game and has given up about 27 a game.

Once again the key will be turnovers. Against Ball State IU started slow and got behind quickly because of two turnovers, including an interception on the first play of the game.

The IU defense has been playing well lately. They shut down Ball State after the early turnovers, only giving up 10 points in the first quarter while the IU offense got into rhythm. Then in the second quarter, the defense shut out the Cardinals, while the Hoosiers scored 21 points and took control.

In their six wins, the Hoosiers are giving up less than 20 points a game and scoring more than 41. However, in their four loses, the average is reversed -- the Hoosiers give up 37 points per game and score only less than 19. Minimal mistakes from Kellen Lewis and James Hardy and some quality defense should go a long way to get IU win number seven. That would be the most since 1993, when the team was 8-3 and lost in the Independence Bowl.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Interesting reading

For those who read this blog (all two of you), you all know that I'm a reporter. As it is my craft, I enjoy reading newspapers. Today's Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette had an interesting story by my friend Dan Stockman. He interviewed a convicted murderer in jail in Michigan City and wrote this, which ran today.

It was an impressive piece that reflected the research and all the work Stockman did. Give it a read, it is divided into several short chapters that make it much more readable.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Is my wife a football widow?

If you have read this blog on more than one occasion, you probably know that I like football. Especially the brand played by the Indiana Hoosiers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears. I watch a lot of of football. I pace. I scream at the television. I read newspaper sports pages and Internet sites. I discuss the game with friends and colleagues.

My wife of four weeks likes football, too. She follows the University of Michigan and the New England Patriots. Having attended Michigan, she knows how passionate football fans can be and what it means to live and die with a team. But she doesn't take it to that extreme.

Usually on Sundays if I'm watching either the Steelers or the Bears, she spends the afternoon in another room. Most of the time it is watching another TV show or reading. Today she let me stay home and watch the end of the Bears loss to the Lions while she did the grocery shopping. But I spent that time completing household chores while watching the game.

Have I made my wife a football widow? Is it wrong that I'm passionate about my teams and show it? I would contend the answer is No. I don't completely ignore my wife on Sundays or during Saturday college games. We still talk while I am watching the games. I don't invite friends over to our place, nor do I go to bars, to watch games. And I rarely attend games in person. I just like to watch football, like millions of Americans. My wife does not appear to be annoyed by our routine and I don't feel like I'm as wrapped up in the game as I could be. Have I made her a football widow?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

They're storming the field?

This has come up several times during the past few years. When is it acceptable to storm the field or court?

Iowa fans just stormed the field after
beating Michigan State in double overtime 34-27. The Hawkeyes moved their record to 4-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten. That is not a reason to rush the field and celebrate if you ask me.

If Indiana finally wins its sixth game next week and becomes bowl eligible, I would allow the students to rush the field. Beat the number one team in the country, you can rush the field or court.

Other scenarios where storming the field or court is acceptable:
  1. Win the national championship
  2. Break a losing streak that stretches over many years
  3. Win a conference tournament to gain a berth in the NCAA basketball tournament
  4. Go to the Final Four

Any other acceptable situations?

It's finally over...

Wisconsin decided to run up the score. They put another into the end zone to make it 33-3 with less than 1 minute to go.

Lewis threw another interception just as the clock was running out, raising the turnover total to 5. Hardy also made another catch to bring his total to four catches for 17 yards. Maybe a game in Bloomington will help get the team back on track. The losing streak now is three.

Another disappointment

The Hoosiers didn't look much like a bowl team again today. The Wisconsin Badgers didn't appear all that dominant either, but IU kept making mistakes. After 4 turnovers, the latest coming early in the fourth quarter, IU found itself down 21. During my days as an IU student, that was our cue to leave.

Once again, the defense kept them in the game, but the offense could not get anything going. At the start of the fourth, IU made its deepest penetration of the game, to the Wisconsin 26 yard line. And the next play, Kellen Lewis fumbled the ball. They had the same problem against Penn State -- every time the offense seemed to get something going, it would be abruptly halted by a turnover.

With just under 10 minutes left, it's still 24-3. IU has 196 total yards. Lewis has thrown for only 96 yards and James Hardy has three catches for 9 yards. That is not going to get it done against anybody. Here's a link to a photo on, which is from AP.

It looks like we'll be waiting a full month to get bowl eligible. The next attempt will be at home against Ball State.

Update: Wisconsin just kicked another field goal -- it's 27-3 now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Atmosphere is part of the game

The World Series is moving to Denver, where it will probably end. The Red Sox won the first two games in Boston this week, showing the American League was much better than the entire National League this year. Playing the Red Sox is very different from beating the Phillies and D-Backs. Youth doesn't always win championships.

I was lucky enough to be in Boston this summer for a few days. Jenni and I did the Fenway Park tour while we were there. It was fun, especially with our tour guide, who knew everything about the team and the stadium, and maybe even witnessed a lot of the events he was telling stories about.

I took this picture during the tour while sitting in the some of the most expensive seats in the house. It's a nice view of the stadium and behind us was the club lounge, available only the those with tickets in that section.

My only complaint about the tour was we didn't get to walk on the field or around the dugouts. But it looked like the grounds crew was working that day.

The real season is about to begin

Even though the college football season is life just about everywhere in the Big Ten, many Hoosier fans still use it as a attention-holder until November, when we begin heading to Assembly Hall instead of Memorial Stadium.

The first ESPN Coaches basketball poll was released today and IU is number 9, just behind Michigan State. North Carolina was number 1, but UCLA received two more first place votes.

If phone-gate doesn't bring the team down, it is going to be the D.J. White show. White is a senior, an pre-season All-American, and the unquestioned leader of the team. Eric Gordon is going to be a big focus, but it is White who must shoulder the load.

A.J. Ratliff and Lance Stemler also must play consistently throughout the season. The first exhibition game is a week from Sunday (Nov. 4) against North Alabama.

The season begins Nov. 12 against Chattanooga, followed by the Chicago Invitational Challenge around Thanksgiving and then the Big Ten-ACC challenge against Georgia Tech.

Of course, for all us non-satellite subscribers ... will we see any of these games? Big Ten Network and Comcast still don't have a deal.

For those two people who actually read this blog -- is IU ranked correctly? Too high or too low ... What do you think?

I'm back...let's go IU

After several weeks dealing with wedding and honeymoon issues, I'm back. And upon my return to the U.S. after missing two weeks, I find the Hoosiers still are one game from being bowl eligible, although at least one reporter thinks 7-5 would give the team a much better chance to play 13 than 6-6.

IU travels to Wisconsin this week to play a Badgers team that has been overrated and has trouble stopping high-powered offenses. Illinois beat them 31-26 even though Wisconsin ran up 519 total yards and Penn State white-washed them 38-7. The Badgers also had trouble with UNLV, gave up 31 points to the Citadel, and gave up 34 to Michigan State. They are coming off a thumping of Northern Illinois, which probably was more of a vacation than a football game.

The Hoosiers have played well against Wisconsin in the past and certainly have a good chance to win this game. It's going to come down to turnovers and Kellen Lewis. If Lewis can hang on to the ball and make some good throws, particularly to James Hardy, the Hoosiers should hang around. Lewis and Hardy had Penn State beat if not for the field goals the offense gave away with second half turnovers.

Defense also will be a big issue. At some point, the Hoosiers are going to have to stop somebody if they are going to win a big game.

This is the "statement" game that can show the pundits, and bowl committees the Hoosiers are for real.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big disappointment

IU may have been the underdog, but they easily could have won this game. Turnovers killed almost every promising drive in the game. The offense never got off the mat in the first half. This was one of the games IU had to win to get bowl eligible.

The Hoosiers are 3-1 now, 0-1 in the Big Ten. They had 403 total yards. But if you keep giving Illinois a short field, the points will be scored without having to move the ball a whole lot.

The schedule does not get any easier. Next week, IU travels to Iowa and then plays Minnesota in Bloomington. And now the Ball State game doesn't look like a layup, given their performance today against Nebraska in Lincoln. Amazing how one loss can change your tune. But I will try to remain hopefull they can bounce back.

Two scores down

Lewis runs on first down to the 5. It's a first down and the clock stops. IU lines up and Lewis spikes the ball. 1:17 left.

Lewis throws into the end zone and its intercepted. Game over.

Illinois has the ball again

They are trying to run the clock. First down is a run for a couple yards. 4:20 to go.

Second and 8, its a short gain. Third down and 4. IU calls time out. The defense stops them. Punt upcoming, but the clock is running...

The punt goes out of bounds at the 20. First down Indiana. Lewis throws to Walker-Roby for a gain of 7. Lewis throws to Payton for a first down. He stepped out of bounds. First down. Lewis throws incomplete. Second and 10 from the 31. Lewis throws incomplete again. Third and 10. Lewis throws incomplete. Fourth down. 2:41 to go. Lewis runs for the first down and is tackled near midfield.

On first down Lewis throws incomplete. Second and 10. Lewis throws deep and incomplete. Third down. Lewis hits Sears for the first down near the Illinois 38. He got out of bounds. About 2 minutes to go. On first down, Thigpen runs for a few yards up the middle. Lewis throws to Bailey for a first down again at the 25. 1:41 to go.

Lewis throws to Hardy for a 9-yard completion and IU calls time out. They are at the Illinois 25 now.

Nebraska has closed to 37-35.

More IU offense

The ball is at the IU 38. First and 10 after Illinois' third turnover. 5:24 to go. IU has three timeouts.

Lewis throws to Brandon Walker-Roby, who gets into Illinois territory. From the Illinois 40, Lewis throws incomplete on first down. Second and 10. Lewis rolls right and fumbles, but IU keeps the ball. It's a loss back to the Illinois 47. Third and 17. Under 5 minutes. Lewis throws incomplete, bringing up fourth and long.

They have to go for it. Lewis throws incomplete. Turnover on downs. That may do it, barring a miracle.

Where was that in the third quarter?

IU doesn't try the on-side kick. It goes into the end zone. First down for Illinois at the 20. Williams keeps and is stopped for no gain. Second down is a pitch for a big gain into IU territory. A 39-yard gain on an option play. We've seen that before...

On first down, another run for 3 yards. Clock is running. Second down is a QB keeper for 2 more. Third and 5. The defense forces a fumble and recovers. Some life now?

Ball St. leads Nebraska 37-28 in the fourth quarter now.

After a good return

IU is trying to move the ball. It's inside the Illinois 30 now. Second down after a loss on a running play. Lewis throws incomplete in the end zone. Third down and 10. Lewis throws to James Bailey who dives into the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN!. With the extra point, Illinois leads 27-14. Under 8 minutes to go.

Hope now with the defense

The defense may need to get a turnover for a touchdown to keep IU in the game.11:44 to go.

On first down, Illinois gets no gain. Second and 10. Another hand-off is a loss of 4. Third and long. The gain is only a few. Illinois will punt. Can the offense get something going?

Ball State took the lead against Nebraska again: 31-28.

Need a score right now

For any chance, IU has to score on this drive. There's less than 13 minutes to go in the game and IU is down 3 scores.

IU will start from the 31 yard line. Lewis throws incomplete on first down. Lewis throws incomplete again. Third down. Illinois is really trying to pressure Lewis now. He has had defensive guys in his face all day. Lewis is sacked. Fourth down. The punt is taken near the 30.

IU with the ball to start the fourth quarter

Nebraska just took the lead over Ball State with a touchdown.

Meanwhile, IU has the ball, first and 10 on its own 18. We're getting close to must-score time.

Lewis runs, but only gets 2. Second and 8. Lewis throws to Hardy, who catches it and fumbles. Illinois recovers the fumble. Hope is fading here. IU has 4 turnovers.

Illinois has the ball at the IU 27. One more score and it may be over. The first down play is a hand-off for 7 yards. Second and 3. Another run, and it is a first down at the IU 17. Another run, this one for 4 yards. Second and 6. Williams runs the option and pitches. It goes for another first down at the IU 6. A touchdown could put the game away. They only need one more play. Touchdown. With the extra point, Illinois leads 27-7.

Illinois in IU territory

On first down, it's a gain of three to the 41. Second down. Williams throws incomplete. The receiver was open, but he did not catch the ball. Third down. Williams throws incomplete again. Fourth down.

The Illinois offense has sputtered, but IU can't take advantage so far. How big is that TD right at the end of the first half.

The punt goes out of bounds at the 3. Lewis gives to Sears on first down for a gain of 2. Sears gets the ball again and runs for a first down. Third quarter is over. Illinois is still up 20-7.

Defense back on the field

Illinois gains three on first down. Second and 7. Williams runs the option and pitches the ball. IU makes the tackle for a loss. Third and 10. Williams throws and completes the pass, but it's short of the first down. Illinois decides to punt. It goes into the end zone. IU gets the ball at the 20 late in the third quarter.

On first down, Thigpen runs for a short gain of 3. Second and 7. Lewis throws incomplete. Means was open, according to the radio, but the pass is knocked down. Third and 7. Lewis throws incomplete. It was almost intercepted. Punt the ball again. Illinois muffs the fair catch. Flag is thrown. IU interfered with the catch. Illinois keeps the ball.

The Illinois drive continues

After the time out, it's Second and long. The Illinois left tackle is hurt. Williams runs the option and its a gain of one again. Third and 8. The crowd is getting into it. Williams throws incomplete. Illinois is going to punt.

Shocker in the making: Ball State is leading Nebraska 17-14.

Illinois has more than 200 yards rushing now. IU has 229 yards of TOTAL offense.

The punt takes IU back inside the 10. It's first and 10 from the 7. Lewis gives to Payton, who gets to the 27 yard line. Nice play. First down again. Lewis throws to Fisher, who gains 1 yard. Second and 9. Payton gets the hand-off again and loses 1. Third and 10. Lewis rolls and throws at Means, but it's incomplete. Another punt. Illinois gets the ball at its own 32.

IU has the ball again

The interception is returned to the 33. First and 10. Lewis throws at Hardy, but its overthrown. Second down. Lewis throws to Hardy over the middle for a gain of 5. Third and 5. Lewis is sacked. Punt the ball.

The punt takes Illinois back to the 15 yard line, where the tackle is made.

ESPN2 switched to the Syracuse-Louisville game. It's 21-14 Syracuse with 6:21 to go in the third quarter. Huh?

First down is a hand-off for Illinois and a gain of a couple. Second and 8. Williams takes it and gains only one. Third and 7. It's an inside hand-off for a first down. Another hand-off for about a yard. Time out is called for an Illinois player injured.

Going from bad to worse

IU is in danger of getting blown out here. On first down Williams throws to the end zone. Incomplete. On second down, it's a run for about 7 yards. Third and 3 from inside the 20. It's a run for a touchdown. Illinois is called for holding, so the score is taken away. Third and 7 now from the 22. From the shotgun, Williams throws and its intercepted by Tracy Porter. Huge play to keep IU in the game.

Second half underway...

Even though Illinois has done real well in the first half. IU is only down by 13. A touchdown and a defensive stop early in the third quarter will help a bunch.

IU gets the ball to start the third quarter on the 25 yard line. First down, Thigpen takes it for a gain of 9. Second and 1. Thigpen gets it again and goes for the first down. Gain is about four yards.

First down. Lewis throws to Means for a gain of 6 to the 45 yard line. Second and 4. Lewis throws again, but Thigpen can't catch it. Third and 4. Need a conversion here. Lewis throws to Fisher, who is knocked down. Flag thrown. Penalty is against Illinois and it gives IU a first down at the 49.

On first down, Lewis throws the ball away and is flagged for grounding. The ball didn't get to the line of scrimmage. Second down and 16 from the 43. Lewis tries to throw, but is sacked again for a loss of 3. Third and a mile. Lewis throws deep to Hardy, but it's incomplete. Fourth down is a punt.

A good start to the drive, but a bad finish. Illinois blocks the punt and recovers the ball at the IU 25.


The stats remain close, but Illinois is executing better on offense. The IU defense needs to force some three-and-outs, just so they don't tire in the fourth quarter.

IU has 142 yards passing and 211 total yards, while Illinois has 170 yards rushing and 264 total yards, according to the ESPN box score. The time of possession is about even.

It is going to come down to the defense in the second half. If they can't stop the Illini offense, it's going to be more of the same.

Not a good way to end the half

The IU offense is getting into rhythm, but the defense hasn't figured out how to stop them yet.

IU gets the ball at the 25 on the kick-off. 37 seconds to go.

Lewis throws to Means for a first down. 30 seconds left. Lewis hits Hardy at midfield who gets out of bounds. Is there something going here?

First down again. Lewis throws to Fisher, who gets out of bounds at the Illinois 42. 16 seconds to go. Lewis throws to Hardy, but its incomplete. Hardy couldn't stay in bounds. 9 seconds to go. IU calls timeout.

There's maybe enough time for two more plays. IU still has one more timeout.

Lewis hits Thigpen over the middle for a gain to the 39. IU calls timeout again. It would be a 57-yard field goal. Likely a hail mary coming...

Lewis can't find anyone and is sacked for a 23-yard loss. Halftime. IU is down 20-7.

After the touchdown...

We're nearing the end of the half.

Illinois continues to move the ball. They are in IU territory again. With 1:13 to go, Illinois is on the 34 yard line. The Illinois kicker can hit them from 50+ yards. Third and 6. Williams completes the pass to the 15 yard line. First down. Williams throws, but the receiver was out of bounds. Second down. Williams throws in the flat and it goes for a touchdown. It was a screen pass that came against a blitz. The extra point is good. Illinois leads 20-7.

The Hoosier drive continues...

West Virginia is on the blow-out trail, up 24-0.

A hand-off gets the ball to the Illinois 15. Lewis throws to Hardy, who gets to the 7 on first down. A gain of 8. Second and 2. Lewis throws to the end zone, Means can't catch it. Third and 2. Six points would be nice on this drive...

Lewis throws to Hardy, who makes the catch for a TOUCHDOWN!!! That's better...

The extra point is good. Illinois leads 13-7.

Offense needs to get in gear...

The IU offense needs to put some points on the board. The two turnovers were killers. They easily could have resulted in 14 points.

I needed a time out for a phone call. IU is moving the ball. They are inside the Illinois territory on the 41. A screen pass on second down leads to another first down. Now they're rolling...

First down at the 30. Lewis throws to Hardy, who juggles it and then a defender knocks it away. Second down. Time out is called for an Illini injury.

Hoosiers in trouble...

The defense has got to figure out this Illinois offense. It is eating them alive right now.

IU gets the ball at the 35 after the kick-off. On first down, Thigpen runs for one yard. Second and long. Lewis throws incomplete. Third and 9. Lewis runs up the middle for a first down to about the 47. Lewis runs again, this time to the Illinois 33. Radio call says the officials missed a late hit. Lewis slide at the end of the run and was hit, but no flag.

First down. Lewis runs the reverse to Ray Fisher, and it goes to the 17 yard line. The ball comes loose and Illinois gets it. The play is being reviewed...IU thinks Fisher was down before the ball came out.

Reviews says its a fumble. Illinois gets it. First down. Hand-off goes for about 3. Second and 7 at the 20. Williams is hit and throws it away before he is brought down. No grounding because it goes across the line of scrimmage. Third down and long. Williams runs up the middle for a first down.

Somebody stop this guy. It was a gain of 15 on third and 7.

Another run for about 6 on first down. The second down throw goes for a first down at the 47. Williams throws incomplete to bring up second down. A run for no gain forces a third and 10.

How about a stop to force a punt? Williams throws and it's incomplete. The Hoosier defender knocked it away. Illinois decides to punt. IU gets it at the 21.

After the punt...

The first quarter is over. Illinois leads 6-0.

There's not much to talk about as far as IU is concerned. The offense can't move the ball on the Illini side of the field. But the defense has forced two field goals after allowing two drives deep into their territory. Two big problems: IU averaged 2.7 yards per rush and Illinois averaged 6.1. That has to change.

West Virginia just went up 17-0 on ECU.

Illinois takes the ball at the 20 after the punt goes into the end zone. On first down, the hand-off goes for a gain of 2. Second and 8. Williams runs the option, makes the pitch and Illinois picks up the first down even though the runner dropped the ball.

First down. Again. The hand-off goes for 6 yards. On second down, it's another first down gain of 6.

My kingdom for a stop...

On first down, the Hoosiers make the stop for a yard. Second and 9. Williams throws in the flat and play goes for a first down. Illinois has crossed mid-field again. A quick snap and IU isn't ready. It's another first down. IU is flagged for illegal substitution, but the penalty is declined. The ball is at the 33.

The hand-off goes for another 8 yards to the 25. Second and short. Williams throws complete again and its another first down at the 21. Williams runs the option again and it goes inside the 10 to the 5 yard line. First and goal. They get it to the 2 on a hand-off. Williams throws to the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point is good. Illinois leads 13-0.

IU needs a good offensive drive here...

IU takes the ball at the 20 after the kick-off goes into the end zone. McCray is hurt. Radio guys say he's questionable. More than 35,000 in the house today.

On first down, IU gains 8, but is called for holding. That makes it first and 14. The penalty is from the spot of the foul. Payton runs for 6 on first down. Second and 8. Lewis runs for about 3 on second down. It's third and 3. Means picks up the first down on a pass from Lewis.

Lewis runs the option and keeps. He gains a few. On second down, Lewis fumbles, picks it up and throws to Means. He takes it across midfield for a first down. It's a gain of 19 on the busted play.

First down again. A reverse to Means goes for a good gain to the Illinois 44. Second and 5. Lewis throws for Means, but it's incomplete. Third down. IU calls timeout. This is another big play early.

UNC is on the board now. It's 14-3 South Florida.

Illinois has brought it's band to the game. I guess Champaign is close enough for them to travel to Bloomington. After the timeout, Lewis is sacked. Another punt.

IU defense back on the field

We'll see if the defense made some adjustments. So far, total yards are about even. Illinois has done almost all of their work on the ground. They have only 2 yards passing.

USF is up 14-0 now.

On first down, Williams runs for 6 yards. Second and 4. Illinois gets another 6 yards. First down. The pass is behind the receiver and incomplete. Second and 10. Williams completes the pass. He catches, then drops it, but it is not ruled a fumble. Third and long. Illinois runs for the first down on a gain of 16. It was a draw play. Illinois is in IU territory now. On first down, Juice Williams runs for 6 again. Did I mention the need for a defensive adjustment?

On second down, Illinois gets another big gain. This time 11 yards. Another first down. Another run, but the Hoosiers stop him for a loss of 2. It's second and 12 near the IU 28. Williams runs for 2, but it's third and 10. Early big play here...

From the shotgun, Williams throws incomplete. Another field goal attempt. This one should be about 45 yards. It's good again. Illinois leads 6-0.

IU offense needs to respond

Not a bad effort by the defense to hold Illinois to a field goal after the pass interference penalty. But Illinois seems to be finding some holes in the IU run defense. The Hoosiers may need to make some adjustments.

USF already is up 7-0 on Carolina. WVU is on the goal line, already up 3-0. It didn't take long to make it 10-0.

IU takes the kick to about the 30. First down, and Demetrius McCray gains three on the hand-off. Second down and Lewis throws to Andrew Means. He can't catch it, but Illinois is flagged for pass interference. First down IU.

Ball is at midfield. Lewis rolls left and throws incomplete. The ball is short and knocked away, according to the radio guys. Second down. Bryan Payton runs for no gain. Third and 10. Lewis rolls right and gets sacked. Fourth down. Time to punt. Illinois runs it to about the 35 after a bouncing punt.

Illinois driving

On first down, Juice Williams runs for a gain of two. Second down is a gain of 15 and Illinois gets inside the 30. Williams throws incomplete on first down. It's second and 10 from the 23. Williams is sacked for a loss of 5. It's third and 15 from the 28. A stop here would make it a tough field goal attempt. The pass is incomplete. Fourth down. Illinois is going to try a 42-yard field goal. It's good. Illinois leads 3-0.

After the turnover..

Kellen Lewis takes the ball for 20 yards on first down into Illinois territory. The next play is a 17-yard pass to Josiah Sears. First down is an incomplete pass. Marcus Thigpen fumbles the ball on the second down hand-off and Illinois recovers. Not a good start for the running game...

Illinois's offense is back on the field. First down is a short pass for a gain of two. Second and 8. The Illini run for six yards, bringing up third and 2. Williams runs on an option play to the 45 for a first down. It's a gain of four.

Four wide receivers and Williams throws another deep ball. It's knocked away, but IU is called for pass interference. The radio says it's marginal, but probably a good call. Illinois now has a first down at the IU 41.

First drive

IU kicks off to start the game. The hair dryer problem has been resolved.

Return is to the 25, where Illinois will begin.

Juice Williams is the Illinois QB. This team likes to run the ball, according to the radio.

First down, option run to the 42. Not a good start for the defense. First down, and Illinois throws deep, but Tracy Porter strips the ball and takes it away. IU grabs the ball at its own 31 yard line. That's how you make up for it...