Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hoosiers move to 2-0

Yes, that is not a typo. IU beat Western Michigan 23-19 in Bloomington to remain undefeated.

Western Michigan was about to take the lead late, however. The Hoosiers defense helped by committing three major penalties -- a late hite, pass interference and facemask -- that sustained the Broncos drive. But Greg Middleton forced and then recovered a fumble with Western Michigan about 10 yards away. IU could not run out the clock, thanks in part to a penalty, but took a safety and then held Western Michigan in the final seconds to secure the win.

I have to say I'm surprised at how the IU defense has stepped up late in the game two weeks in a row. It seems like they have to play better to compete on the Big Ten stage, but if they keep making big plays with the game on the line, they should be just fine.

The IU running game looked much better this week, accumulating 187 yards, including a 59 yard run for a touchdown by Demetrius McCray. Maybe more importantly, IU committed no turnovers.

Ben Chappell did not have his best game: 185 yards passing and no touchdowns, but he did enough to win. I'm still worried about the IU offense in the second half. It fell asleep again in the second half, scoring only 6 points.

The IU defense allowed only 22 yards rushing, which is impressive. The Hoosiers' defensive identity appears to be a bend-but-don't-break style. But the unit is able to get pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers.

Overall, a much better performance than last week.

Next up: At Akron, Sept. 19. The Hoosiers could head to Ann Arbor 3-0...

IU looks good on both sides of the ball

The Hoosiers lead Western Michigan 10-0 early in the second quarter.

I've been impressed with how the IU offense has started the game again. There appears to be some semblance of a running game as well, which is promising. The question remains whether the team will remain consistent in the second half. Last week Eastern Kentucky made an adjustment at halftime and held the Hoosiers scoreless the rest of the game.

The touchdown drive that finished early in the second was impressive, including Ben Chappell's two sneaks to get into the end zone.

While we already knew the IU offense was in gear, I'm more impressed with the IU defense so far. Western Michigan has 21 total yards through the first quarter. QB Tim Hiller, who was expected to have a big game, hasn't done much of anything.

The big key so far is the Broncos lack of running game. As I write this, a rush for 6 yards by WMU gets them near 0 net yards on the ground for the game. There are about 11 minutes left in the half.

The Broncos were moving the ball a little better after the IU touchdown. The IU defense now must make an adjustment.

IU-Western Michigan early thoughts

The big surprise heading into this game was that IU was the favorite. The Hoosiers were a 1-point favorite this morning.

Early in the first quarter, the IU offense seemed to be clicking, but stalled in the red zone. The running game was not able to get it done inside the 10 yard line and a fade in the corner of the end zone was not successful. IU still was able to salvage a field goal.

The defense held the supposedly potent Bronco offense in check on their first drive, thanks to a huge tackle for a loss. The Broncos have -9 yards rushing nearing the end of the quarter.

We'll see if that holds up...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Prediction adjustments following Week 1

After watching the Hoosiers get an unconvincing win in Week 1 and seeing some actual game action, I want to make some adjustments to the season prediction.

I was correct in saying the IU-Eastern Kentucky game would be close. Looking ahead to Week 2 against Western Michigan, after predicting a loss at first, I think now the Hoosiers could get a win. The Broncos were routed by Michigan on Saturday, 31-7. Western Michigan's offense never got started and scored its only points late in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines offense ran up nearly 300 yards total offense in the first half.

That is encouraging for the Hoosiers, who had trouble stopping the EKU pistol offense last week. If the defense can contain the Broncos and the offense can get going, WMU may fall to 0-2 on Saturday.

Unfortunately, after watching Michigan, I don't think the Hoosiers are going to break the losing streak in the Big House this year. Michigan looked and played like the West Virginia teams coach Rich Rodriguez built. The Michigan offense looks as if it would overwhelm the Hoosiers defense.

Penn State smoked Akron on Saturday as well, making me more confident the Hoosiers should be favored to win their game there. And surprisingly, Virginia lost to William and Mary 26-14, creating more confidence that expected loss could turn to a win.

I still can't say the Hoosiers' record will improve over the 4-8 record I predicted. A win at Virginia would push the record to 5-7, but Purdue looked sharp in its win over Toledo, 52-31, leading me to wonder whether that win will come to end the season.

Week 1 inspired some confidence in the Hoosiers prospects this season, but it also issued some more challenges. Ultimately, it should not change the outcome: 4-8 is still the expectation.