Hoosiers Hope To Stand Tall At Michigan

IU Coach Terry Hoeppner knows there's a lot for his team to overcome it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend for a matchup with No. 21 Michigan.

IU Coach Terry Hoeppner knows there's a lot for his team to overcome it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend for a matchup with No. 21 Michigan.

There's a losing streak at Michigan Stadium that dates back to 1967, a stretch of 14 straight setbacks.

Indiana will also be playing without nose tackle Russ Richardson, the third defensive starter to go down with an injury in the last two weeks. James Hardy's availability, meanwhile, is up in the air as well after leaving the Minnesota game in the third quarter with an injury.

And, there are also those visiting locker room urinals to contend with.

While coaching at Miami (Ohio), Hoeppner's teams made a couple of trips to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines, and the urinals were among the things his team had to deal with.

"The urinals are very high in the locker room," said Hoeppner.

Hoeppner joked that was an issue on his team's first trip there, but a sign of the program's progress on their next journey into Michigan Stadium.

"The first year we went there from Miami, it was a struggle because we had 19 guys who couldn't use the urinals," said Hoeppner. "The next year we went back we were much more confident because we only had nine guys that couldn't use the urinals. So we were a much bigger, stronger team."

The urinals, though, are far from the biggest obstacle facing the Hoosiers this weekend. After starting the season 3-3, the Wolverines have won three straight, including victories over a pair of ranked teams in Penn State and Northwestern.

Indiana will also have to play in front of more than 110,000 fans in a stadium that is among the most difficult in the nation on visiting teams.

"I think I was probably thinking of Michigan when I came up with that, ‘Crowds Help Win Games (slogan)'," said Hoeppner, referring to a series of billboards and television commercials that IU used to try to drum up support for the team this season.

"It's an impressive place to play. It's not one of the loudest stadiums, but you feel like you're going into the Roman Coliseum. There's only one way in and one way out. If they block the exit, we can't even escape."

The atmosphere isn't the only thing intimidating about Michigan Stadium, though. The Wolverines are traditionally among the nation's best teams, usually contending for Big Ten titles.

The program isn't shy about playing up its tradition, either, in an effort to intimidate its foes. Hoeppner witnessed that first hand in one of his first trips to Michigan as a member of the Miami (Ohio) coaching staff.

"I remember the first year I went up there with Miami…we were told get on the field and then get out of our way because the hoard of Wolverines is going to come charging down the tunnel and you better be gone," said Hoeppner.

The Hoosier coach said his team did as told, moving down to the corner of the field to avoid the on-rushing Wolverines.

Hoeppner wasn't as obliging, though, during another trip to Michigan in 2000, his second year as the Redhawks' head coach.

"We're coming down the tunnel, we're going to get out of our bench area, get out of the end zone, but we sauntered onto the field," said Hoeppner.

"I walked by one of our associate athletic directors and said, ‘check it out – we're sauntering onto the field. We're not scurrying into the corner to get out of their way, we're sauntering.'"

Hoeppner instructed his team to do that in an effort to promote a sense of confidence in his team, which was being quarterbacked by then first-year starter Ben Roethlisberger.

The result?

"It didn't do us any good," said Hoeppner.

While the task is a daunting one, it's a victory Indiana has to have if it wants to keep its bowl chances alive. Hoeppner knows the odds might be stacked against his team, but he's not about to let them use that as an excuse.

"(The environment) should excite you and invigorate you and motivate you to play because you know that is Michigan," said Hoeppner. "If you let it intimidate you then you're in the wrong league, in the wrong game.

"It's not for the timid."

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