Albers Angle: What A Win

The Indiana football team upset No. 18 Missouri on Saturday in its most impressive performance of the Kevin Wilson Era. How it happened, and what it means.

Most people expected Indiana to be 2-1 after three games. But nobody predicted that one of the wins would come at Missouri and the loss would come at Bowling Green.

I guess that's what makes sports so exciting.

I haven't been around Indiana football for nearly as long as our publisher, Terry Hutchens, but it feels like I have. Every year, it's the same old story. The Hoosiers defense gives up big plays. The offense looks good against bad teams, not as good against good ones. The Hoosiers get close to big ones, but let them slip away late.

I'll admit, I thought this was just another one of those years. I bought in to the offseason hype about the improved defense in a new 3-4 system, I thought this team could be better. But after an ugly 45-42 loss at Bowling Green last weekend, that changed.

I was very critical, especially of the defensive effort and of head coach Kevin Wilson. It was a bad loss.

But Indiana responded to that loss with an improbable 31-27 upset of No. 18 Missouri on the road on Saturday. It shocked me. It shocked the country. After what we had just seen a week ago, Indiana went on the road and beat a ranked SEC team, a club that won the SEC East a season ago.

It was, without a doubt, the biggest win during Wilson's tenure, and it was likely the biggest win for the Big Ten Conference to this point in the season. Who saw that coming?

The IU defense got picked apart last week. It panicked late and let Bowling Green win the game because of two pass interference calls.

On Saturday, though, Brian Knorr's defensive unit put together the best performance I can remember from Indiana (and again, I'm a young guy, so that's not saying a whole lot.). The Hoosiers were aggressive, they got to Maty Mauk early and often, and they gave up only one really big play.

When Missouri got in the red zone, Indiana's defense did not fold. Twice the Hoosiers held the Tigers to field goals instead of touchdowns, something they've struggled to do in the past. With the game on the line late, IU didn't panic like it did a week ago. It was incredibly impressive, and the defense deserves a ton of credit for the win.

With the game on the line for Indiana, the offense made plays. The defense made plays. The Hoosiers looked like they'd been in such situations before, even though they hadn't beaten a top 20 team on the road since 1987.

Now, Indiana must build off of it. As we've seen in the last two weeks, this IU team has been inconsistent. Yes, it was a great win, but it's still very early in the season. The Big Ten is down. The opportunity is there for the Hoosiers to make some noise for the rest of the season.

Will they make the most of it? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.


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