After giving up three touchdowns and 274 yards through the air against Wisconsin, the Indiana secondary has a bruised ego and a chip on its shoulder heading into this weekend's matchup with the Fighting Illini.
The Hoosiers are giving up just 170 passing yards a game through four games, but Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco was able pick apart Indiana's secondary to a tune of 274 yards and three scores. The Badgers knocked Indiana from the unbeatens and handed the Hoosiers their fifth straight loss in a Big Ten opener. Indiana will have a chance to get the first conference win of the season on Homecoming weekend.
"It would great to follow up that loss with a big win," said sophomore Tracy Porter. "Getting to 4-1 and 1-1 in the Big Ten would be big for us and get us that much close to being bowl eligible. We only got three wins last season so we're trying to get over that hump and it would be great to do it at home, five games into the season and give ourselves a good shot at getting to six wins."
Indiana has won just three conference games in the last three seasons, and Illinois has taken care of the Hoosiers in four of the last five meetings. Indiana lost a tough battle last season in Champaign, 26-22, as Indiana led the entire game but lost on an Illinois touchdown with 30 seconds to go.
"It shows that the Big Ten is a really challenging conference," said Porter. "We need to come and execute our plays, work harder in practice and come out more focused in the game.
"We're pretty excited despite the loss we had last week. We're trying to put that behind us and focus on Illinois. We're going to come out enthusiastic and hopefully we'll have a big crowd there to help come out with the victory over Illinois."
Indiana will look to continue the success they had stopping the run last week. Indiana was able to limit the nation's 14th-best rushing offense, which came in averaging almost 240 yards on the ground, to only 103 yards rushing.
"It's always an accomplishment to stop an opponent's rushing attack like that," said sophomore Leslie Majors, who had seven tackles in the game. "It is a positive and a step in the right direction. I don't take a moral victory from that, though. If we can play ball like we can play ball things are going to be a lot different around here.
"It was disappointing. We gave a little too much credit to the run. I think if we played them again it would be a whole different ball game. I'm proud of this team for hanging in there. We are never going to quit. They got us, but we're going to learn from our mistakes and get ready for the next opponent."
Things can start to be different for Indiana with a win over Illinois. The win would be number four for the Hoosiers, something Indiana has not reached since the 2001 season when Antwaan Randle El led the team to five wins.
"We're going to compete in this league," said Majors. "We're a Big Ten team just like everyone else. If people are going to continue to take us lightly, we're going to make them pay.
"Every time you go out it's a chance to win. But homecoming is something special. It's going to be a great atmosphere. To be a part of it this season has me pumped. We love protecting the rock. We love this place. We're not going to let anyone come in and push us around in our own stadium."
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