BLOOMINGTON – Add Saturdays 18-13 loss to Iowa to Indianas list of excruciatingly close defeats.
During the past two seasons, that list is getting pretty long.
Last year, the Hoosiers lost three Big Ten games by three or fewer points, including against their upcoming opponent Wisconsin.
In the offseason, IU (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) adopted the motto finish. But Indiana hasnt found a way to achieve the goal, dropping three more conference games this season by seven points or fewer.
Coach Bill Lynch said there isnt a secret formula for getting over the hump.
If I had the answer to that, wed fix it, Lynch said during his weekly new conference Monday at Memorial Stadium. Were close. You just have to keep banging away at it. You have to keep believing. You have to keep working and preparing.
There isnt any magic to it. Its not like you can pick up the phone and call anybody and say, If you all of a sudden do this, that will get it done. Or if you play somebody different, that will get it done. Or if you call different plays or different defenses, that will get it done.
The common theme in the three close losses this year has been big plays.
Michigan made just one more big play than the Hoosiers Oct. 2, pulling off a 42-35 victory.
Northwestern made a 45-yard field goal, and Indiana missed a 40-yard attempt. The Wildcats held on for a 20-17 victory.
Saturday, Iowa connected on a 52-yard touchdown play with 2:50 remaining. IU drove down the field, but Damarlo Belcher couldnt corral what would have been an 18-yard touchdown in the final minute
I do think in terms of what were doing, were doing the right things, Lynch said. In terms of how we prepare, the things were teaching, I think the staff has put together great game plans, and our kids have done everything we could to execute them. Were just a few plays off.
The players are focused on bouncing back, not looking back.
Its never easy, but its basically the only option we have, quarterback Ben Chappell said. Its over. We cant sulk. Weve got to play a great football team Saturday at their place. Weve proven we could play with pretty much anyone. We have to move on.
Lynch said the teams character helps with the regrouping process.
They know how close we are, Lynch said. Weve been a play away quite a bit. Or weve been a series away quite a bit. You keep knocking on that door and thats the approach were taking.
Once you get it, then it sticks. Theres a confidence that goes with that. The thing you ask of your team is to give you great effort and to prepare and compete the way they have. You cant ask for anything more than that.