BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-In the wake of its most lopsided loss of the season, Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers might have had their confidence rattled, but their psyche is far from shattered.
Ohio State rolled into town Saturday and rolled over the Hoosiers, 41-10. Unlike Indiana's other setbacks – a pair of 17-point losses at Wisconsin and Iowa – there weren't any silver linings from last weekend's performance.
Whether it was the 478 yards of offense that the Buckeyes piled up or the meager 137 yards of offense that the Hoosiers managed, there wasn't much good to be taken from the Hoosiers' third loss in four Big Ten tries.
"They punched us right in the mouth, our eyes watered, and it took us a while to figure it out," said Hoeppner. "We didn't respond very well."
That performance left the Hoosiers at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten heading into Saturday's 11 a.m. (EST) match-up with Michigan State, a team that has dropped three in a row after a 4-0 start that had them ranked No. 11 nationally.
While Saturday's beating certainly didn't help Indiana's goal of winning six games to earn a postseason bowl invitation, some might be concerned that it could shatter the team's confidence and ultimately derail a season that got off to a promising 4-1 start. But Hoeppner doesn't think that will be the case.
"The good thing is we're early enough in our development that we can shake this (Ohio State loss) off," said Hoeppner.
One of the reasons Hoeppner believes his team can move on from its worst outing of the year is the faith he has in a senior class that he wants to see play in a bowl game in their final seasons in Bloomington.
One of those players is John Pannozzo, and the fullback-turned-linebacker is among those who still has faith the team can win two of its last four to qualify for the postseason.
"Our season is definitely not over," said Pannozzo. "We still feel good. We still feel like we can go out there and compete with anybody."
That's the sort of attitude that Hoeppner knows his team needs as it wraps up the season with road games at Michigan State and Michigan, along with home contests against Minnesota and Purdue. All four teams have been ranked at some point this season, and Indiana must find a way to win at least two of those contests.
Hoeppner knows that if his team comes out and plays the way it did against Ohio State it won't be making any postseason plans, but he doesn't anticipate his team turning in that sort of performance again anytime soon.
"We've had enough success that we're not going to let one game wash everything way," said Hoeppner.
"We've built the foundation to the point, it shook us, but the hurricane didn't wipe out the whole thing. We're able to fix a few broken windows, and come back and do it again."
One of those "broken windows" is a running game that has been nonexistent the last two weeks. After totaling just 86 yards on 44 carries at Iowa, Ohio State held the Hoosiers to 42 yards on 26 carries on Saturday.
Hoeppner is contemplating some personnel changes to try to kickstart the running game, although the first-year coach didn't specify if that would involve the offensive line or tailbacks.
"We anticipate making a couple personnel moves to maybe shake things up a little bit," said Hoeppner. "We want to see if we can do anything to improve.
"I want to wait and see how it works before we make any big disclaimer or big statement about it."
Hoosiers' Psyche Not Shattered
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