PURDUE: Two Days and Counting

As Indiana (6-5/2-5) prepares for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. match-up against Purdue (7-4/3-4), it does so with the goal of not only winning the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2001, but also in securing a much-needed seventh win to enhance its bowl chances. With that in mind, HoosierNation.com looks at two of IU's biggest concerns with this weekend's match-up…

As Indiana (6-5/2-5) prepares for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. match-up against Purdue (7-4/3-4), it does so with the goal of not only winning the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2001, but also in securing a much-needed seventh win to enhance its bowl chances. With that in mind, HoosierNation.com looks at two of IU's biggest concerns with this weekend's match-up…

How will Indiana handle the pressure? - As Indiana prepares for its second straight match-up against Purdue with its postseason fate hanging in the balance, Coach Bill Lynch's team might be able to say "been there" but they can't follow that up with "done that."

A year ago, Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter threw four interceptions and Indiana amassed 505 yards of total offense, but it went for naught for the Hoosiers thanks to four fumbles and some fourth-quarter miscues. IU kicker Austin Starr missed a 26-yard field goal early in the fourth that would have cut Purdue's lead to five, and IU later failed on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game at 21. Purdue then put the game away on its next drive an handed IU its fifth straight loss in the series.

Indiana now heads into this weekend's contest trying to not only avenge that loss, but also earn a bowl bid to honor the memory of the late Terry Hoeppner and his pledge to "Play 13." It's been a rallying cry for the team all season, but it could also serve as an albatross as well in arguably the most significant game in the last 15 years of IU football.

Will that be too much pressure for this Indiana team to shoulder? Time will tell, but senior co-captain Josiah Sears doesn't think so.

"Obviously, there is an opportunity when you get really pumped up for a game, come back down, and you can be sub-par and not at your best playing ability, but I don't think that will happen," Sears said. "I don't think it is possible. It has never happened before. I've been pretty fired up for the Purdue game in the past, and I personally have done alright."

But even Purdue Coach Joe Tiller acknowledged this week that out-of-control emotions can be destructive at times.

"It's always a fine line you're walking, trying to balance playing at a high emotional pitch with not being out of control," Tiller said.

This game figures to be loaded with plenty of pressure and drama, and it's a concern with just how the Hoosiers will handle that.

Can Kellen Lewis rid himself of the turnover bug? - While Kellen Lewis' recent turnover problems are apparent to all, it's also the single biggest thing IU must remedy this week if it wants to be successful on Saturday.

After not losing a single fumble in the season's first six games, Lewis has lost eight fumbles in the last five games. In all he's put the ball on the turf 10 times in the last five weeks, compared to four fumbles (none were lost) in the season's first six games.

Lewis has been relatively solid in not throwing interceptions – he's thrown only nine this season and has attempted 61 straight passes without getting one picked off – but the fumbles likely cost Indiana a win four weeks ago against Penn State and prevented IU from having a chance to force overtime on Saturday against Northwestern.

For a quarterback who ranks second in the Big Ten in total offense and has established new IU single season records for touchdown passes (25), touchdowns accounted for (31) and total offense (3,246 yards), the only thing that can likely stop him this weekend is himself. If he can avoid the fumbles, he'll put IU in a great position to emerge victorious.

What's coming up: On Monday – Five Numbers to Note On Tuesday - Four Players to Know On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups On Thursday – Two Big Concerns On Friday – One Bold Prediction


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