Growing up in Kentucky, senior tackle Isaac Sowells is well aware of the rivalry between the Wildcats and the Hoosiers – and the lopsided results.
With that in mind, the 6-3, 330-pound left tackle Sowells will play in his fourth and final game against Kentucky and he only wants one thing.
"Nothing would thrill me more than to beat Kentucky," said Sowells. "We've had good days of practice. The whole team is behind me and Blake because we're both from Kentucky. They want the game just as bad as we do. We know the series is ending, the series is tied. Come Saturday at the end of the game we would like to get the win so we can say IU won the series."
Indiana and Kentucky have faced off 35 times. With each team winning 17 games and a tie in the first ever matchup of the series in 1893, the series is tied at 17-17-1. The series wasn't renewed for the 2006 season as well as for the foreseeable future, making this game even more important to both teams.
"(A win) would be huge because Coach Hep is starting to realize how big this rivalry is," said Sowells. "He's starting to get more fired up everyday. He watched the game film from last season's game and he was like ‘Wow' after some of the hits he saw in that game. It's such a big rivalry and he's starting to love it, too. Getting this win for Coach Hep would be great and going 3-0 into Big Ten play would be even better."
A win would put Indiana at 3-0 for the first time since 1994 when the Hoosiers won on the road at Kentucky. It was Indiana's second-straight season starting out 3-0 and the last winning record for a Hoosier squad. The last time Indiana has defeated Kentucky was in 2001 in Antwaan Randel El's last game as a Hoosier.
"To win this game would be huge going into the bye week," said Sowells. "We have people with nicks and bruises that need some time to settle down. Everybody is fired up about Kentucky and we're working hard to get to 3-0. That hasn't happened in a while and we would like to be the team to get there."
Indiana has had success throwing the ball in the first two games, throwing for 291.5 yards a game, second in the Big Ten. However the Hoosiers have limped to just 111.5 yards a game rushing, worst in the conference by over 20 yards a game.
"I think it's been on the offensive line," said Sowells. "The passing game is good. Blake has really come around. He's made some great plays for us. But I don't think the offensive line has made the plays when it should be.
"We've taken note of that and we're working really hard to take care of it. Hopefully we'll come out against Kentucky. If we bring the running game around to go with the way we've been passing the ball, we'll be a team to beat."
If Indiana can get the ground game moving, the Hoosiers could be able to move the ball down the field with ease against a Kentucky team giving up 418 yards a game in its first two games in 2005.
"We're aiming to be able to move the ball a lot smoother," said Sowells. "We feel we can do that, but that's what we're out here practicing for. Hopefully we can get the ground game and the passing game going against them."
This game is a special one for Sowells. A Kentucky native, Sowells expects a large crowd from home to make the trip to see his last game against the state school from his home state.
"I have 22 family members coming up this weekend to watch the game," said Sowells. "It should be pretty crazy. They have been trying not to bother me during the game week because they know how hectic it gets. But we'll hang around a whole lot after the game is over."
Now all he can wish for is a packed Memorial Stadium as the Hoosiers try to get to 3-0.
"Crowds help win games," said Sowells. "Hopefully they'll come out and support us and we'll try to go out there and win for them."
Sowells Ready For One Last Shot
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