A lot has changed in the last 25 years.
Five United States presidental elections have passed. Gas prices have nearly doubled. And Indiana has finished its nonconference season undefeated for just the second time in that time frame.
IU's 31-24 win over Wake Forest Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.gave the Hoosiers their first 4-0 start since 1990. The victory was a historic one that displayed resolve and resiliency the program has lacked in recent years.
How historic? The Hoosiers have a real chance of going to a bowl game. They need only two more wins to meet the minimum bowl game eligiblity requirement. That would also mean the program would have a chance to play past Dec. 1, which it has only done twice since 1994.
Accomplishing the feat this season has been no easy task. Indiana's 17-10 halftime lead was the first time time it led at intermission all season. In the previous three games, it faced deficits of 11 points twice and four points once.
That lead nearly evaporated as Wake Forest started to come back and nearly tied the game on a last-minute drive, save for Indiana defensive back Rashard Fant's pass break-up in the endzone.
But Fant's play is the exact kind of play that, in the past, Indiana would not have made. Not against Ball State in 2012, when the Cardinals drove 44 yards in 49 seconds to hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. Not against Navy, when the Midshipmen raced out to a 17-0 lead that the Hoosiers would never overcome. The desparation heave into the endzone by Wake Forest quarterback Kendall Hinton certainly gave fans flashbacks to the Bowling Green game last year, when the Falcons scored on a two-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining to complete a nearly two-minute, 88-yard drive.
Fant had been called for pass interfrence earlier in the drive, but used the short-term memory, next-play mentality critical to a defensive back's success to clinch the game for the Hoosiers.
The defense as a unit has been crucial to Indiana's 4-0 start. When defensive coordinator Brian Knorr expressed his disappointment in the lack of pressure generated by his front seven through the first three games at his weekly media availability, the front seven responded with six sacks. That exceeded the Hoosiers' previous total of three on the season, which entering Saturday's game ranked second-to-last in the Big Ten.
What's more impressive is how the Hoosiers accomplished such a historic feat without former running back Tevin Coleman. Jordan Howard continues to perform as advertised, as his 168 yards marked the ninth time his career he's rushed for at least 150 yards in a game. He's been valuable on drives when Indiana was forced to slow its tempo and run out the clock. The fact that Indiana has been winning time of possesion battles in some of these games should also speak to the signficance of Indiana's start to the season.
There's a level excitement previously unseen in Bloomington as a result of the 4-0 start, and it couldn't come at a better time with defending national champion Ohio State coming to town this week.
Win, and the support for the program skyrockets; lose, and nobody complains because of Ohio State being favored in the matchup.
It's the perfect situation for the Hoosiers, who probably still have plenty of surprises left in what has already been so far a historic and resilient season.