So now we know exactly what Indiana’s football Hoosiers are.
It’s not a pretty sight.
The details were confirmed in the 43-13 loss at Illinois, but evidence had surfaced from the very first game, when the defense struggled by giving up big plays.
In Saturday’s defining game full of must-win implications, the 4-3 Hoosiers came up empty. They had two punts blocked, for goodness sakes. They overcame the first, gave up a safety on the second.
Their five turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns, offset a decent defensive effort. They held Illinois to 289 total yards. They basically out-gained the Illini by 100 yards and still got hammered.
You can blame coaches, players, injuries, youth, the full moon, Lindsay Lohan and the Wolf Man. It doesn’t matter. We’ve seen this too often over the years. The hope was we’d see less of it this season and the reward would be a bowl game.
So much for hope and reward.
Sure, Illinois (4-3) is improved, but it’s not the second coming of Oregon. It’s a decent team that can be beaten with solid execution.
IU wasn’t close to that.
Quarterback Ben Chappell, so impressive for most of the season, struggled with three interceptions and 26-for-48 accuracy, well below his career standard. A battered offensive line contributed to his inefficiency.
The schedule suggests there are three winnable games remaining, but the reality shows there are none.
Yeah, that’s a shame.
Northwestern (5-2), Penn State (4-3) and Purdue (4-3) are vulnerable. Iowa (5-2) and Wisconsin (7-1) are not. Those two games against ranked teams will be Ohio State ugly.
Northwestern is coming off a heartbreaking loss to unbeaten Michigan State. A good team would take advantage of that.
Don’t be fooled by Penn State’s win over Minnesota. This is a shaky group limited by the Big Ten’s worst offense. A good defense would dominate and dictate.
Purdue has had so many injuries it might be starting team managers by the time the Oaken Bucket battle begins on Nov. 27. A ruthless rival would exploit that.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. IU has spent seven games proving it is not capable of beating quality opponents. Nothing it has done suggests it can win any of its remaining games.
Forget the four wins over non-conference patsies. Those count for nothing but a padded won-loss record.
Yes, there is time to turn it around. A bowl season is still possible by winning at least two of the last five games.
But in your heart of hearts, do you believe it will happen?
We thought so.