BLOOMINGTON – Saturday, after a historic win in Memorial Stadium, senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes reflected on three years, a coaching change, and a 5-19 record in his last two seasons.
Entering Indianas game against Penn State, a team the Hoosiers had never beaten, the coaching staff stressed that this was 2013.
This was a different team. The past did not matter, and theres no point to the hype around that goose egg in the win column.
But now, with a 44-24 win against the Nittany Lions (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) in the rear view and the IU Victory Flag flying in the Southeast corner of the stadium, there was time to think about just how special this was.
We were just talking about this in the locker room, said Hughes, who had a touchdown and reached 100 career catches during the first win in 17 tries against Penn State for the Hoosiers (3-2, 1-0). Ive been asked a bunch of times in interviews, Whats your highlight so far, this and that. I had nothing to say. The last three, four years there hasnt been really any good at all. But its all worked up til now.
I can say today was definitely a huge highlight for my career.
Huge for him, the rest of the team and a staff that until now had no tangible result to hang its hat on.
The past Indiana teams that never beat Penn State, we did it for them, too, junior cornerback Tim Bennett said. It was very big.
IU coach Kevin Wilson said his team wasnt overly excited after the game, knowing there is more work to be done this season. The seniors want this to be a bowl team, and now the Hoosiers are three wins from qualifying.
Theyre also one win from tying the winningest year Wilson has had in Bloomington.
IU got there by winning its Big Ten opener for the first time in 13 years.
Coach didnt want us to focus on the history of this game, sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld said after his 321-yard, two-touchdown day. This 2013 Indiana team has never lost to this 2013 Penn State team, and vice versa. It was us versus them this week.
Next week is another chance for this team to make its mark. The current crop of IU players has not beaten Michigan State, and the Hoosiers are going for their first win in East Lansing since 2001.
One milestone down, a few more to go.
Weve been very inconsistent here: once you do it, you dont see it, once you do it, you dont see it, Wilson said. Good teams become really good because they repeat what theyre capable of doing. What we saw today is what were maybe capable of playing like.
Will you, and can you, back it up? We got a great challenge ahead of us.