As I drove home from Columbia, Mo. on Sunday morning along with a couple of colleagues I couldn’t help but think about the magnitude of Indiana’s 31-27 victory over No. 18 Missouri Saturday afternoon.
This one was big. This one was real big.
Instead of a falling into a 1-2 hole and being forced to win a minimum of three Big Ten Conference games to get bowl eligible, all of a sudden the Hoosiers are in a much more enviable position.
And the nice thing is that there are several Big Ten opponents on this schedule where you think Indiana should have a chance to go and win on different Sundays.
So there are plenty of positives here.
The one thought that kept coming back to me is that very simply you should never get too hyped up over a loss or too hyped after a win.
The Bowling Green loss, a 45-42 debacle the week before, was bad. But yet as bad as that loss was, the Missouri game was that much good and probably much, much more.
This was a major step forward for the program.
This was Kevin Wilson’s signature win in his fourth year at the helm of Indiana.
You can’t use enough superlatives to describe what happened with Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers very simply went out and executed in all phases of the game and found a way to post a huge victory.
Now, the interesting thing is that Indiana comes back and will face a very athletic and talented Maryland team this week. Maryland is coming off a road victory at Syracuse on Saturday. The Terrapins are 3-1 overall and 2-0 in road games.
And very quickly, Indiana’s win over Missouri will be well behind them. The Hoosiers will be preparing for Maryland and trying to take care of business on their own field this Saturday.
A win against Maryland and the Hoosiers have a very real chance at starting the season 4-1.
But lose and quickly this could become ‘One step forward, two steps back.’
Indiana needs to put back-to-back solid games together.
The offense needs to do the things it does well on a week in and week out basis.
The defense needs to fly around the ball like it did Sunday at Missouri when Maryland comes to town.
Special teams needs to play the kind of game it did last week at Missouri. Good punting, good kickoffs and good coverage.
It was fun to drive home more than 300 miles from a road game and think about the steps that IU took forward on Saturday afternoon.
But again, if you lose this week against Maryland what it will do is take a great deal of air out of IU’s early season momentum balloon.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch