Bloomington – "Must win" isn't a label IU Coach Bill Lynch is ready to slap on Saturday's match-up against Iowa, but there is something he said he has to see against the Hawkeyes.
"We've got to get better," Lynch said Tuesday. "I think you get to the point after five games that you're going to get better or you're going to fall backward."
Lynch said he's seen that improvement in the last two weeks on the defensive side of the ball. Despite giving up 198 yards to Javon Ringer and 42 points to Michigan State, the Hoosiers did have a degree of success in limiting Ringer until the fourth quarter and keeping pace with the Spartans' high-powered offense.
The same can be said about this past weekend, when the Hoosier defense surrendered only 16 points to Minnesota despite being on the field for nearly two-thirds of the game. The Gophers were limited to 333 yards of total offense, 59 rushing yards and only one touchdown by the Hoosiers.
The solid defensive effort was squandered by an IU offensive performance that included only one third down and one touchdown. The Hoosiers managed only 49 rushing yards and 10 first downs, totals that have left many scratching their head considering the talent that returned from last year's squad.
Lynch might not want to call Saturday's contest against Iowa as a "must win" and Indiana still has half of the regular season remaining after this weekend's contest. But with road games remaining against No. 6 Penn State, Illinois and Purdue plus a home contests against No. 22 Northwestern and No. 24 Wisconsin, any chances of a second straight bowl trip would appear to be out the window with a fourth consecutive loss.
It will have to come against an Iowa team that has also dropped three straight and is trying to avoid back-to-back bowl-less seasons. While the Hawkeyes have struggled as of late, they've lost their three games by a combined nine points and had chances to win all of those games in the closing minutes.
"Iowa is a very good football team – they're within a few plays of being 6-0," Lynch said.
The two things that stand out the most about Kirk Ferentz's team is its defense and the running of tailback Shonn Greene. The 5-11, 235-pound Greene has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in all six games this season and is the conference's second-leading rusher behind Javon Ringer.
The Hawkeye defense, meanwhile, ranks second nationally in scoring defense (11.2 points/game) and has yielded only seven touchdowns in six games.
"They play great defense, and they're always are very good in scoring defense and rush defense," Lynch said. "The things I think are staples of Iowa's defense is they don't give up big plays, they're very tough to run on, and as a result of not giving up big plays, they don't give up a lot of points."
That adds up to a significant challenge for an IU football team that needs to show improvement to please Lynch and win to satisfy the fanbase.
"We're both in need of bouncing back and having a good week," Lynch said.
Lynch Not Ready to Label Iowa Contest
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