Good football teams follow up positive results with positive results, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. The programs that have success don’t let the lows, or the highs, get to them.
The Hoosiers (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) have yet to figure out how to do that.
IU competed well during its 42-28 loss to Michigan State on Saturday, Wilson said. But the fact remains that the Hoosiers still beat themselves.
We’ve got to find ways to dig a little more out as we go through the season, the third-year coach said during his weekly news conference Monday. It’s obvious from last game, we’ve got to keep making defensive strides, consistency. Offense, we’ve got to continue to make competitive plays and be physical.
IU will have a chance to make those improvements Saturday when the Hoosiers head to Michigan again – this time, Ann Arbor – to play the Wolverines.
The Hoosiers face a talented Michigan team that is coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Penn State. The Wolverines (5-1, 1-1) were the No. 18 team in the country entering last week but lost to the Nittany Lions 43-40 in four overtimes at Penn State.
IU, which has not won at Michigan Stadium since 1967, will bear the brunt of the frustration over that loss. The Hoosiers have lost to the Wolverines 17 times since their last win, a 14-10 victory in Bloomington in 1987.
Their game will be played 9 million times this week, and they’ll get tired of seeing it, Wilson said. Had chances to win that game and didn’t. Could, and should, be undefeated.
It is a quality program, tradition, team, talent, facilities, coaching. It’s a good place, good as there is in the country.
The Wolverines dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 after the loss to the Nittany Lions. Michigan nearly matched Penn State in total yards, held the Nittany Lions to 85 rushing yards and forced four turnovers in the loss. But they gave up an 80-yard drive that started with 50 seconds left in the game.
Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 79 of those yards on three pass attempts and then ran into the end zone with less than 30 seconds left to force overtime.
The Wolverines missed a 52-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation and had a field goal blocked and a miss on a 33-yard try before the Nittany Lions closed out on a goal-line run to upset Michigan.
That story of missed opportunities should sound familiar to IU fans, who have watched the Hoosiers botch chances in close games year in and year out.
It’s time for that trend to change, Wilson said. Bucking it in Ann Arbor would be a turning point for the Hoosiers.
All wins are hard in the end, he said. Last week was a hard win, and we weren’t up to it, but I think we can learn and grow from it.
This week is another tremendous hard opportunity to go get, but we can learn and grow. And the one thing I do expect, I expect this team to keep coming.