Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh my

I am speechless...

I didn't think it could get worse than last week's loss to Northwestern. Before that I didn't think it could get any worse than the loss to Virgina. And before that I didn't it could get worse than the loss to Michigan.

But apparently it can get worse.

Despite forcing six turnovers, the Hoosiers blew a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to Iowa 42-24. The IU defense got four turnovers in the third quarter. Yet, they still allowed the Hawkeyes to score two touchdowns on one-play drives in the fourth. It was part of a collapse that included giving up 28 unanswered points in the quarter.

Bill Lynch received the support of Athletic Director Fred Glass earlier this week, with Glass saying he would honor the remainder of Lynch's contract. But I still feel he has to be on the hot seat, at least with the fans an alumni.

This wasn't a last-second loss. This wasn't a loss because of a tough call on the road. This was a flat-out collapse. A big-time choke. It was as if the switch was flipped when the fourth quarter started and IU said it was time to blow it. The final score doesn't even indicate that Iowa trailed for more than three quarters. The Hoosiers were outscored 35-3 in the second half.

I am just a fan and I don't much about football. But I can't see how there is any reason this should have happened. This game was shaping up as the greatest IU football win in more than 40 years. Instead it's just another embarrassing loss. Are the Hoosiers just the most unlucky college football team ever? There's no way Iowa is that lucky.

As I said, I am speechless.

Are you read for a beat down?

It's hard to get excited about IU's noon kick-off today at No. 4 Iowa. The Hawkeyes are undefeated and looking to continue a run to the Rose Bowl or National Championship. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers are in the midst of their (now traditional) conference season slide.

Iowa is a 17 1/2-point favorite. The only real question is whether the team will be completely focused after the literally last-second win at Michigan State last week. Next week Iowa plays Northwestern and then on Nov. 14 travels to Columbus, Ohio for the unofficial Big Ten title game.

Are the Hawkeyes going to be looking ahead this week? Probably not. The Hawkeyes are a little banged up -- they're without leading rusher Adam Robinson and will be starting some freshman at key positions. But head coach Kirk Ferentz is among the best coaches in the country. He will have his team ready.

The key to this game will be defense. Iowa allows less than 15 points per game, while the Hoosiers allow more than 26. If the Hoosiers can put Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi on the ground and keep the running game under control, they may be able to hang around.

But IU's offense will have to score points in both halves if they want to pull the upset. Scoring 21 points in the first quarter and expecting the defense to hold the lead the rest of the game is not going to cut it. It certainly didn't work last week.

I think the Hoosier defense plays well, but the offense never gets on track. Iowa wins 17-3.

By the way, I'll be updating on Twitter, at least until the game gets out of control.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A more pleasant subject

While I continue to lament the symbolic end of football season, the good news is there are only five days until the men's basketball team begins its season.

The first game is Wednesday: an exhibition against Grace College. Ironically, Grace is in Winona Lake, about an 45 minutes west of Fort Wayne. Unfortunately, that game, as well as the other exhibition against St. Joseph's College of Indiana will be nothing more than lay-ups.

I do not expect to learn much about this team until later in the month, when the Hoosiers head to Puerto Rico for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip Off. The Hoosiers take on Ole Miss Nov. 19 in the first round of the tournament.

The Rebels were 16-15 last year, after suffering several injuries. This year, the team is expected to be much better and is picked to finish second in the SEC West division. This game will be an important measuring stick for the development of IU's now veteran sophomores and junior college transfers, as well as its heralded recruiting class.

The big test before the conference season begins will come in early December. Three games in two weeks: versus Maryland in Bloomington, versus Pittsburgh in New York, and versus Kentucky in Bloomington.

The Maryland game will be on ESPN2 as part of the ACC-Big Ten challenge. The Pitt game is on ESPN as part of the Jimmy V Classic and the UK game is a rivalry game on CBS. All three are national TV games, all three against top-tier programs. I'll find out how good they are after these three games. An upset of any of these teams would be a big step forward.

Big Ten play begins New Year's Eve and that road will be anything but smooth.

After I saw the pre-season AP and coaches' polls, I was surprised to find six Big Ten teams in the AP and five in the coaches' poll. And Michigan State and Purdue were both ranked in the top 10. If the voters are correct, this could be one of the toughest Big Ten seasons ever.

That doesn't lend a whole lot of confidence in the Hoosiers rebounding for a 20-win season this year. But I still think the team could finish better than .500 and possible get into the NIT. If they get a few breaks and the freshmen play better than expected, who knows, the Hoosiers could be dancing in March.