The Last Word: What defense shows up?

We know that Indiana's offense can score. And score in bunches. What we don't know is if the Hoosiers can stop anybody on defense. That's the big question today as IU takes on a good Bowling Green team.

Every game, I will have a ‘Last Word' segment that looks at an issue or player personnel situation heading into the game. In week one it was the quarterbacks. Last week it was defending the option. This week it's once again focusing on the defensive side of the ball.

On paper, this looks like another shootout. In fact, the way Indiana's offense looks this year and conversely the way the defense looks, we could probably say that about every game moving forward. The constant question, based on the first two games, is can the Indiana offense score enough points to win?

It's clearly the question this week as Indiana prepares to face a good Bowling Green team today at Memorial Stadium.

Even against a good Bowling Green defense, I think IU scores 35 points or more. That's just a given with this offense and the number of playmakers the Hoosiers have this season. We've gone down the list before. But there are close to a dozen guys on the offensive side of the ball that can bust a big play at any time. Thirty-five points is going to become the norm this season. In fact, it may be closer to 40. This team can score points.

But can the Hoosiers stop anybody?

Based on last week's Navy game, it would appear the answer is no. Now, many will point to Navy's gimmicky offensive system but here's the reality there. You have to make adjustments. You have to do something different than you did for four quarters. You have to make plays. Indiana pitched a shutout in those three areas. It's not surprising, based on that information, that the only time that Navy didn't score all night was when it missed a field goal.

Today is a huge game for Indiana's defense. It has a lot to prove. It has a lot to prove to Indiana fans. A lot to prove to its coaching staff. And most of all, a lot to prove to itself.

If Indiana can put together a decent showing today and the Hoosiers can win the game, then the world will look a lot better from IU's eyes heading into next week's non-conference finale with Missouri. At 2-1, IU's realistic bowl dreams will still be alive.

Now if Indiana has another Navy-like defensive showing and MAC power Bowling Green comes out of Memorial Stadium with a win, it won't only be a long week in Bloomington but the beginning of a long year. A 1-2 record will mean that even with a win against Missouri that Indiana would have to go 4-4 in Big Ten play in order to get to a bowl game. Not impossible, but not probable given this Indiana defense.

So what happens if Indiana's defense has another long day but IU's offense still outscores Bowling Green?

It will just mean that the IU defense will have another week to figure things out and IU will have dodged a bullet.

But I don't think it happens that way. I think either Indiana puts together a formidable showing in an IU win or the other result takes place.

It seems like I say this about Indiana just about every game but we'll know a lot more about the Hoosiers at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon than we do right now.

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