N'WESTERN: One Day and Counting

Can Indiana (2-5/0-4) turn its fortunes around with an upset win over No. 22 Northwestern (6-1/2-1) Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium? HoosierNation.com continues its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with our prediction of the game's outcome…

Bloomington - Can Indiana bring an end to its five-game losing streak Saturday against Northwestern? Let's put it this way.

Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice, shame on me.

There are plenty of reasons to think IU has a chance to come away with a win Saturday against Northwestern. Despite the recent struggles, the players and the coaching staff are saying the right things about the final five games of the regular season and what they need to do to get things turned around.

"I know what it takes to win games, and we need to be better at those," said junior tailback Bryan Payton. "You have to play defense, you have to run the ball and you have to stop the run. We're taking steps toward that. Last week didn't go well, but the great thing about football is you get another week."

Bill Lynch has sung a similar refrain earlier this week.

"I gauge it off how they are in meetings and how they are at practice," Lynch said. "I think they've been really good in meetings and practice and spirited and getting after it. That's the best judge I have."

There are also things to point to on the field that would suggest IU should play better. Northwestern hasn't scored a point in the first quarter of a Big Ten game thus far, and Indiana needs to get off to a good start so that it can build some confidence after its recent struggles.

While Northwestern is a +2 in turnovers this season, they have turned it over 14 times themselves this season, a total exceeded by only three Big Ten teams (Michigan-20, Wisconsin-16, Purdue-15). That could be a good sign for an Indiana defense that has come away with a league-worst nine takeaways this season.

Despite those facts, it's hard to get past how miserably the Hoosiers have played in the last six quarters. It's not easy to shrug off the 83 points, 12 touchdowns, and 853 yards that Iowa and Illinois have combined for in the last 90 minutes of game action. Indiana's players and staff were saying plenty of the right things as well a week ago after they were whipped by Iowa 45-9, and they proceeded to suffer the most lopsided loss of any IU team in nearly five years.

Compounding IU's problems are a series of significant injuries. Quarterback Kellen Lewis – who has been out during those last six quarters with a high ankle sprain – is questionable at best for this weekend. Wide receiver Andrew Means is expected to miss this weekend's match-up, and offensive linemen Cody Faulkner, Andrew McDonald and Alex Perry are all dealing with injuries that could either keep them out of the game or limit their effectiveness.

Considering those facts, until this team shows it can turn some of its words into action it would probably be foolhardy to expect them to beat a team that is ranked in the nation's top 25.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Northwestern 33, Indiana 16

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


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