Hoosiers Not Throwing In Towel Just Yet

Bloomington – Bill Lynch isn't quite ready to write the obit on the 2008 football season. Sure, the Hoosiers have lost six out of seven to slip to 3-6 overall and move within one loss of bowl ineligibility. They also close the year with a three-game stretch that is probably as difficult...

Bloomington – Bill Lynch isn't quite ready to write the obit on the 2008 football season.

Sure, the Hoosiers have lost six out of seven to slip to 3-6 overall and move within one loss of bowl ineligibility. They also close the year with a three-game stretch that is probably as difficult as any three-game set on their schedule, including a road game against a team that has national championship aspirations.

But while most see the final three weeks as a lost cause, Lynch sees reason for energy and excitement.

"If you don't get excited about the three games we had ahead of us, whether you're a coach or a player, I don't think the message is that difficult because of what we in front of us and what can happen," Lynch said.

While the Hoosiers haven't been mathematically eliminated from postseason eligibility, there is plenty of reason for trepidation about the final three weeks. Indiana opens it up with a game against a Wisconsin team has beaten IU three straight times and by an average of 27.3 points. They conclude the regular season with road trips to No. 2 Penn State and Purdue, which will be attempting to give out-going Coach Joe Tiller a win in his final game as Purdue's head coach.

"We have three big football games left," Lynch said. "When you look at postseason possibilities, they're all must wins."

It starts off with a Wisconsin team that has seen its once promising season fall apart. Ranked in the nation's top 10 after a 3-0 start, the Badgers have lost five out of six and are currently all alone in last place in the Big Ten at 1-5, one-half game behind the Hoosiers.

Like Indiana, the Badgers have had their issues in the latter stages of games as of late. Coach Bret Bielema's squad has blown double-digit fourth quarter leads to both Michigan and Michigan State, and they also suffered a last-minute loss to Ohio State as well. That's left Wisconsin in need of two wins in its final three games if it wants to avoid a bowl-less season for the first time since 2001.

Despite the Badgers' struggles, they still figure to present some serious challenges to the Hoosiers. Wisconsin has long had a reputation for big, bruising, powerful running backs, and this year they have a couple of them in 5'11", 236-pound junior P.J. Hill and 6'2", 237-pound freshman John Clay. Both figure to get double-digit carries this weekend, and slowing them down will be a must.

"They're, big and physical – a big, strong, physical offensive line, big strong physical backs," Lynch said.

Hill and Clay will run behind an offensive line that averages 6-6 and 319 pounds, and he'll also have 6'1", 259-pound fullback Chris Pressley leading the way.

Indiana's hope is that it can limit the effectiveness of Clay and Hill and force the Badgers to try to beat them through the air. Of course, that's a strategy it tried to employ against Central Michigan, and the result was a 485-yard, four-touchdown afternoon for Chippewa quarterback Brian Brunner.

If Wisconsin is going to have success through the air, it will via the arm of sophomore quarterback Dustin Sherer. The 6-4, 213-pounder from Hamilton Heights (Ind.) H.S. is the older brother of IU freshman linebacker Chad Sherer, and he'll be making his fourth career start Saturday.

Sherer has completed 54-of-103 throws (52.4 percent) for 627 yards and three touchdowns this season, and he's coming off a 14-of-28, 149-yard effort in Saturday's 25-24 loss to Michigan State.

"He's a good quarterback," Lynch said. "Good size, very, very smart, a good leader and he fits what they are trying to do."

Sherer has yet to have a 200-yard passing game this season, and if Indiana is going to avoid becoming his first victim it will have to avoid giving up the big plays in the passing game there were prevalent last weekend against Central Michigan and in recent encounters with the Badgers.

"That's the problem we've had with them in the past – sometimes you get so run-oriented against them that you expose yourself to some big plays in the passing game," Lynch said.

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