Iowa CITY, Iowa - A lot of Iowa fans felt like last year's 18-13 win at Indiana felt like a loss. The Hawkeyes sat at 6-2 before that contest and were in the Big Ten title race. They were favored by 17 points.
It turned out that the win against Indiana was the last one during the regular season. The Hawkeyes came apart.
Following a season-finale loss at Minnesota, star defensive end Adrian Clayborn said the team had lost its will to win. Tight end Allen Reisner said something didn't feel right on the bus ride to Minneapolis.
Some popular prognosticators pegged Iowa as a Big Ten contender. Other predictions called the Hawkeyes a dark-horse, national-title contender.
Few people saw the Indiana struggle coming. Iowa was coming off a 37-6 demolition of then-No. 5 and previously unbeaten Michigan State.
The Hoosiers blew an opportunity to upset Iowa. Indiana wide receiver Damarlo Belcher dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds. He virtually was uncovered.
"I actually put my head down," Iowa Safety Micah Hyde said. "I was ready to feel the loss. Then he dropped it and I shifted to excitement. It was a crazy game. I can' believe he dropped it."
Hyde revealed another sign that Iowa was doomed last season. Unhealthy attitude presented itself at Indiana.
"(Indiana) definitely should have won that game," Hyde said. "I don't think we played that well. I don't think we came out ready. We were sort of focused on the next two games. We were kind of looking past Indiana. They came out and gave us a hard game."
Looking past an opponent? That flies in the face of basic Coach Kirk Ferentz philosophy.
The next two weeks, we'll find out if there's any overconfidence leftover from last year in the Iowa program. These opponents are two of the worst in the BCS.
Indiana comes to Kinnick Stadium this Saturday allowing an astonishing 227.42 yards per game on the ground. The Hoosiers remind me of the Hawkeyes, circa 1999, Ferentz's first year of the rebuild.
Iowa travels to Minnesota next week. If the Hawkeyes leave Floyd of Rosedale north of the border again, something likely still is broke.
"Last week, our back was against the wall," Hyde said. "It was a must win. This week is a must win. We want to keep building off of it."