It's all on the defense.
This isn't a news flash stuff or anything like that. The simple fact is that whether Indiana can find a way to get bowl eligible with six wins this season will come down to whether the IU defense can stop anybody.
Through six games, it's a mixed bag. OK against Indiana State but how much do you learn from Indiana State?
Bad against Navy.
Good against Bowling Green.
Bad against Missouri.
Good against Penn State.
Bad against Michigan State.
So this should be the good week, right? The problem is the opponent this week, Michigan, will likely not be eager to get caught up in IU's good-one-week/bad-the-next pattern.
But you know, Indiana doesn't have to win this weekend as long as the Hoosiers are competitive – on both sides of the ball.
The offense will be fine. I'm not worried about the Hoosiers on that side of the ball. Indiana's offense will take care of itself. This team has too many weapons, too many playmakers.
But the defense is another story. Too many issues to count.
Let's focus on just a couple of basic things that Indiana needs to do today that it hasn't always done with regularity:
1. Tackle somebody. Not arm tackles or missed tackles altogether. When you're in position to make a tackle, don't slow somebody down. Tackle somebody.
2. Get off the field defensively on third down and force your opponent to punt once in a while. In essence give your offense a chance to be successful.
3. Slow down the run. Just don't let Michigan dictate the tempo of the game by being able to run at will.
These seem like basic points but in the overall scheme today they are major when it comes to whether Indiana will have a chance to compete against Michigan.
If Indiana can put together a decent showing on defense, there's no reason IU shouldn't be in the ball game today at the Big House.
The problem is that it's awfully big if.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch