PURDUE: One Day and Counting

When Indiana (6-5/2-5) takes the field on Saturday against Purdue (7-4/3-4) it has a chance to either secure the biggest win in the last 19 years of the program, or simply suffer the latest heart-breaking setback to its arch-rival. Which way will it go? HoosierNation.com makes its pick…

Bloomington, Ind. –Indiana and Purdue square off for the 110th time on Saturday in a game that will be go one of two ways for the Hoosiers.

If Coach Bill Lynch's squad finds a way to win and earns a bowl invitation as a result, it will mark the most significant win in nearly 20 years of IU football. But if Purdue wins, it will be nothing more than the most recent disappointing setback for the program against its arch-rivals.

In my opinion, an IU victory in front of a near sold out Memorial Stadium would represent the most meaningful victory that IU fans have witnessed since 1988, when IU thumped Ohio State 41-7 at Memorial Stadium and went on to beat South Carolina 34-10 in the Liberty Bowl. Others might argue you have to go back one more year to 1987 when IU stunned No. 9 Ohio State 31-10 in Columbus and then topped No. 20 Michigan 14-10 in Bloomington, but no matter which you look at it, a victory Saturday would be monumental.

If Purdue wins, this game can be lumped in with a handful of other painful losses to the Boilers, most notably in 2005 (a 28-19 loss that kept IU from a bowl), 1992 (a 13-10 setback that dropped IU to 5-6 in the final game of Trent Green's career) and 1989 (a 15-14 loss that also dropped IU to 5-6 and likely cost Anthony Thompson the Heisman Trophy).

It's a huge game for the future of the program, but also one that means a great deal to the 16 members of the senior class – especially those who come from the state of Indiana. One of those players is tailback Josiah Sears, a Greenfield, Ind., native who arrived at IU as a walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship and is now a team captain.

"For me personally, I'm from Indiana, and I've grown up an Indiana fan, and I've grown up a not-Purdue fan, my whole life," Sears said. "I don't like to use the word hate, but I'm not a fan of that school."

Sears says he plans to use that distaste for Purdue and the knowledge that this could very well be the final organized game of football that he ever plays as motivation to make this game special.

"(My teammates are) going to get the absolute best game I've ever played in my life," Sears said. "There is no doubt in my mind that I'll play as hard as I can and leave it all out on the field because there is nothing left."

But will there be anything left when the clock hits 0:00? Will there be more football to be played for Sears and this Indiana football team?

If Indiana can eliminate the turnovers that have plagued the team in recent weeks, the answer is yes. The fact Indiana gets the Boilermakers at home and they'll be playing in front of the biggest crowd of the season is huge edge for the Hoosiers. In addition, both teams face the burden of needing a win to feel confident about earning a bowl invite, so any anxiousness or nervousness in that regard will be felt on both sidelines.

Fans of college football can expect a wide-open, high-scoring game in which both teams will do everything they can to put the ball in the hands of their playmakers. Ultimately, I expect a huge game from James Hardy, a big play from Tracy Porter, and a monumental win for Bill Lynch and the Hoosier program.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Indiana 41, Purdue 31

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