Hoosiers Gear Up For Bucket Battle

BLOOMINGTON- With one game left in an IU uniform, IU senior Adam Hines is already thinking about next year.

BLOOMINGTON- With one game left in an IU uniform, IU senior Adam Hines is already thinking about next year.

The Hoosier guard hasn't turned the page on his college career. To the contrary, the Vandalia, Ohio, native is already thinking about returning to Bloomington next year and seeing the Old Oaken Bucket in the Hoosiers' trophy case.

"We want that thing to be in (our trophy case)," said Hines. "When I come back next year, I want to see it in there and have the memories of that game when we brought it back."

Indiana (4-6/1-6) will get a chance to do that Saturday, when it hosts Purdue (4-6/2-5) for a 1 p.m. contest at Memorial Stadium.

Hines has seen the Old Oaken Bucket in Bloomington before, but it was a short-lived stay. Indiana last won the Bucket game in 2001 during Antwaan Randle El's senior season. Hines arrived in Bloomington the following fall, but Purdue reclaimed the bucket that fall with a 34-10 win in West Lafayette.

Purdue won a hard-fought 24-16 game in 2003 to keep the Bucket for a second straight season. Then, in 2004, Purdue trounced the Hoosiers 63-24, and IU Coach Gerry DiNardo was fired soon afterwards.

With no bowl game to play for this season, IU Coach Terry Hoeppner is hoping that his team's opportunity this weekend can remove the sting from failing to achieve its goal of earning the school's first postseason bowl invitation since 1993.

"I think it's good for us that we have a game of significance like the Bucket game," said Hoeppner. "I don't know that it will salvage (the season), but it will be a part of their legacy for sure, this senior class, if they can get the Bucket back.

"I know it would be very rewarding for them, and some solace for not getting our ultimate goal this year."

Hines, meanwhile, is a little more direct when talking about what it would mean to walk off of the Memorial Stadium turf for the final time victorious, with the Old Oaken Bucket in tow.

"It would mean the world," said Hines.

To do that, Indiana will have to knock off a Purdue team that has been playing much better as of late. After a six-game losing streak knocked Purdue out of the postseason for the first time during the Joe Tiller era, back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Illinois have the Boilermakers playing as well as they have all season.

"I don't care what their record is," said Hoeppner. "They are a fine football team."

It's a tall order for an Indiana team that has lost five in a row, with its most recent 41-14 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor arguably the season's low point. Michigan scored 41 unanswered points in the first half and was able to sit its starters for the entire second half.

The last five games have been deflating for an IU team that looked primed to go to the postseason 1 ½ months ago, but a win on Saturday could ease some of the pains from the recent results.

"Rivalry games are great," said Hoeppner. "A season unto themselves. Then, you add it's the last game, a conference game, it's always a meaningful game."

Hoeppner hopes, though, that there will be a time in the not-too-distant future that the Indiana-Purdue game will be of significance outside of the state's boundaries. With no bowl game on the line for either team, the contest won't be televised.

"I want this program to be in a position where…this game is meaningful on a grander scale – not just statewide, but nationally," said Hoeppner.

"I want it to be for a BCS bid or a conference championship. Now you're talking. Now you're where you want to be."

That's not where the Indiana program is right now, though, and it's not where the Purdue program is either, at least not this season.

"Our goal for this senior class was to bring Indiana back to glory, to bring IU back to being successful, the type of team that would go to bowl games," said Hines. "It's disappointing that we weren't able to do that.

"But to be able to get that bucket back and put it in our trophy room, our locker room room, every day during the off-season people would walk through there and see it – that would mean something."

It would also be something for Hines to look forward to for next year.

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