The Last Word: It's all on the defense

Indiana's offense will be just fine today against Minnesota. The Hoosiers have shown against some good defenses this season that they can put big points on the board. But the story will once again be the IU defense. Here's an analysis of what needs to occur on that side of the football.

We can talk all we want about how many points Indiana needs to score today to beat Minnesota.

We can talk about how Nate Sudfeld needs to return to his early season form and play with the confidence he had in earlier games at Memorial Stadium.

We can talk about the importance of players like Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston having break out games offensively via the run.

We can talk about how Coleman needs to continue his streak of scoring at least one touchdown in every IU game this season.

We can talk about how Ted Bolser needs to become more of a focal point in the offense. Or we can talk about how Cody Latimer needs to be a game-changing wide receiver. Or we can wax poetic about how IU needs to take advantage of Mitch Ewald in the kicking game.

There are so many things we can talk about with regards to Indiana's offense and what the Hoosiers need to do to improve to 4-4 with a victory over Minnesota today.

And the reality is that all of those things are more than possible. You could go out on a limb and say most of those things are probable against the Golden Gophers.

But who are we kidding here? Whether Indiana puts itself in a position today to take another step toward bowl eligibility will come down to one key area: Can the defense stop the Golden Gophers?

It's very simple really. If IU could just play an average defensive game, Indiana would have a better than average chance of beating Minnesota.

IU could give up 400 yards of offense and 30 points and most people would think Indiana would win. But that's not the way it has been playing out. IU has been giving up 500 yards and over 40 points a game. Heck, against Michigan IU scored 47 points and it wasn't close to being enough.

The defense simply has to make a statement today against the Golden Gophers. And it has to be a positive statement.

Get off the field on third down, don't allow Minnesota to control the ball and dictate tempo, make a few big plays along the way. When in position to make a play, make it. Slow the running game. Give the offense a chance to be successful.

They all sound like simple points. But nothing is ever that simple. That's one thing we've come to know more than anything else over the years when it comes to Indiana football.

But today's last word is very basic and quite to the point.

If the Indiana defense can rise to the occasion against Minnesota, the Hoosiers have a very good chance to head into the final four games of the season with a 4-4 record and much brighter hopes for bowl eligibility.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Top Stories