BLOOMINGTON-With two games left in the regular season and two wins needed to become bowl eligible the Indiana Hoosiers (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) are refusing to throw in the proverbial towel.
With a loss at home to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-3, 3-3), Indiana has no margin of error if there are any dreams of competing in a bowl.
"Right now we are focusing on winning the next two games because going to a bowl has been our goal since last season ended," said sophomore quarterback Blake Powers after the loss. "We are shot but not dead."
While nothing is impossible, the odds are stacked against the Hoosiers. Coach Terry Hoeppner's team must travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. next weekend to take on the Michigan Wolverines (6-3, 4-2) who will be coming off a bye week. Indiana hasn't won in Ann Arbor since 1967, and Michigan has won 28 of the last 29 meetings between the Big Ten foes.
The Hoosiers then come home for a rivalry game with the Purdue Boilermakers (3-6, 1-5), a matchup Indiana has not won since 2001 and is 1-7 in since 1997. Five of those losses have come by double digits with three of by 30 or more points.
"Everybody's pretty upset about this loss," said senior Jahkeen Gilmore, who led the team with six catches for 39 yards against Minnesota. "We knew we could win this game, and it didn't turn out the way we wanted. We have to keep fighting, and I'm looking forward to next week against Michigan."
One sign the Hoosiers are not giving in with two games to go is the refusal to remove the red wristbands they have been wearing all season. Every coach and player on Indiana has donned a band inscribed "Play 12," meaning the 11 regular season games and one bowl game.
"We've got two more chances and I am not taking (my bracelet) off," said Hoeppner. "It's going to be tougher now because our backs are against the wall. I just told the seniors our backs are against the wall, literally. We have zero margin for error and the road only gets tougher, but I am confident they will come to practice ready."
With Indiana picking up its fifth loss nine games into the season, this is the first time Indiana has still had bowl hopes this late into the season since 1999 win the Hoosiers went 4-7, but lost the last three games to close out the season. When the Hoosiers had their best record in the last decade in 2001, they went 5-6 but were eliminated from bowl play with a sixth loss in the ninth game before closing out the season with two wins.
"We go from here the same place we have gone every week," said junior safety Troy Grosfield. "Tomorrow is a new day and a new week. We start (working on) a new team. All we're doing is thinking about Michigan. We still have a chance to be bowl eligible. All we have to do is win two games. That's been our goal all year and our dream is still alive."
No Give (Up) In Hoosiers
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