IOWA: One Day and Counting

Both Indiana (2-3/0-2) and Iowa (3-3/0-2) are looking for a win Saturday at Memorial Stadium that would bring a halt to a three-game losing streak and give them some momentum. Which team will get that big win? HoosierNation.com continues its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up and makes its prediction for the outcome…

Bloomington - Bill Lynch doesn't want to call the Hoosiers' match-up with Iowa a "must win", and understandably so. Added pressure isn't exactly something his football team needs as it tries to avoid a four-game losing skid.

So with that in mind, we won't call this game a "must win" – instead, we'll label it as a game that IU "better win" instead.

The Hoosiers better win this game to keep any hopes of a second straight bowl trip alive. The optimistic IU fan could conjure up a scenario where the Hoosiers follow up a victory over the Hawkeyes with homefield wins over Northwestern and Central Michigan to make the Hoosiers 5-4 heading into their final three games, preserving some importance for the regular season's home stretch.

It's also a game that Indiana better win to help fan morale and Memorial Stadium attendance. While last year's magical run ended a 14-year bowl drought, IU fans expected this team to take advantage of a relatively soft schedule and take another big step forward. A 2-3 start to the season isn't something anyone expected – players included - and attendance would likely start to dip noticeably for the Northwestern and Central Michigan games if IU is 2-5 heading into that two-game homestand.

"Looking at the season before the season started, I didn't feel we'd be here (at 2-3)," said free safety Nick Polk. "Things happen and that's college football, you have to play on."

It's also a game IU better win to avoid taking a huge step backwards this season. While a bowl-less 5-7 or 6-6 campaign would be a big disappointment after last year's Insight Bowl invite, it wouldn't suddenly derail the Hoosiers' rebuilding project. Indiana will have 18-19 starters back in 2009, and they'll be joined by a very good crop of redshirt freshmen and true freshmen that will continue the process of creating quality depth.

But if Indiana loses this contest and then proceeds to stumble through a 3-9 or 4-8 season, last year's performance would look more like a blip on the radar as opposed to a step forward for a long-struggling program.

"This is a big game for us," Lynch said Wednesday. "It's going to be an intense football game, and we have to be ready for that. Iowa brings it. Iowa is a good football team."

Is Indiana good enough to get a much-needed win against the Hawkeyes? Absolutely. The Hoosiers own back-to-back win over Iowa, including a convincing 38-20 win last year in Iowa City when the IU defense sacked quarterback Jake Christensen nine times.

But being good enough to get it done doesn't mean it will necessarily happen. This appears to be a game that should be relatively low scoring and competitive into the fourth quarter. Whichever squad comes up with the big play – on either side of the ball – in the fourth quarter will likely be the one that comes out on top.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Iowa 23, Indiana 20

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