2006 Big Ten Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

We continue our look at Ohio State's 2006 opponents and the rest of the Big Ten with a preview of Indiana, which visits OSU on Oct. 21. Terry Hoeppner posted a 4-7 record in his first year as the IU coach. He has quarterback Blake Powers, who threw for 22 TDs last year, returning.

Here is the eighth in a Bucknuts.com series on Ohio State's 2006 football opponents as well as a preview for the Big Ten in 2006. We continue with the Oct. 21 game against Indiana.

Indiana

* Date, Time: Sat., Oct. 21, time TBA (likely noon on ESPN or ESPN2 with Iowa-Michigan likely at 3:30 p.m. on ABC).

* Location: Ohio Stadium.

* Last Year, Bowl: 4-7. Big Ten: 1-7/10th..

* Coach: Terry Hoeppner (second year at IU, 4-7; eighth year overall, 52-32).

* Returning Starters: 15. Offense (7): C Chris Mangiero, LT Justin Frye, TE Matt O'Neal, WR Jahkeen Gilmore, WR James Hardy, WR Marcus Thigpen, QB Blake Powers. Defense (6): DE Charles Emerson, DT Greg Brown, CB Leslie Majors, CB Tracy Porter, FS Will Meyers, SS Troy Grosfield. Specialists (2): K Joe Kleinsmith, P Tyson Beattie.

* Big Ten Championships: 2, last shared title in 1967.

* Rose Bowls: 1, 1967.

* BCS Bids: None.

* National Championships (Rissman/Rockne, 1924-35; Associated Press, 1936-2005): None.

* Series Vs. Ohio State: OSU leads the all-time series 64-12-5, including 41-10-4 in Columbus. OSU has won 13 straight in the series, including a 41-10 win last year in Bloomington. OSU holds a commanding 43-3-2 record in this series dating to 1952.

* Schedule: Sept. 2, Western Michigan; Sept. 9, at Ball State; Sept. 16, Southern Illinois; Sept. 23, Connecticut; Sept. 30, Wisconsin; Oct. 7, at Illinois; Oct. 14, Iowa; Oct. 21, at Ohio State; Oct. 28, Michigan State; Nov. 4, at Minnesota; Nov. 11, Michigan; Nov. 18, at Purdue.

* Outlook: Hoeppner seems to be showing no ill effects from an off-season health scare as he had a tumor removed from his head. IU opened last year 4-1 before enduring six straight losses to end the year and extend the school's bowl drought to 12 years.

"There's an excitement throughout the state -- the Hoosier Nation," Hoeppner said. "There is an enthusiasm. And to the groups I've had an opportunity to speak with I thanked them for their patience because they're more patient with me than I am with me."

The Hoosiers will try and take a step closer to respectability behind the pitch-and-catch tandem of Powers (2,305 yards, 22 TDs) and Hardy (61 catches, 10 TDs). Hardy, however, may miss some time early in the year as he deals with an off-season arrest for assaulting his girlfriend.

The defense is the biggest question mark here as IU allowed an average of just over 41 points in the team's seven Big Ten losses.

"The motto for the winter at IU was `If you can run, then you can play.' That was our theme," Hoeppner said. "And if you can't run, then you're going to be standing beside me watching. But we are going to be a much faster football team.

"We'll be a young football team. The term redshirt may not be used at IU this year. I tell young guys coming in `We're going to play you soon -- not too soon -- but soon."

* Jerry Rudzinski Says: I like what I see with Hoeppner, but I don't see much changing for a while. When I think with my heart, I want to see him win over there. But when I think with my head, I have to say I don't see it happening any time soon.

No bowl game in 12 years. Eleven consecutive losing seasons. When people think about the positives of Indiana, they say, "Well, they have James Hardy at wide receiver." That's a guy that's going to touch the ball eight or 10 times a game.

You want the talk of the team to be that stud quarterback or that great left tackle or a monster run stuffing defensive tackle or a lockdown corner. To build your team around a wide receiver, that's scary.

I think they will be able to throw the ball, but I don't see much of a running game to balance that off. I think Hoeppner has to instill that toughness in the trenches and get the running game. They don't have the horses to get that done yet.

They need stability in the program. If the right coach is there, you find a way to stop the run. You find yourself some defensive linemen who can make piles. You get LBs who can tackle. Ohio State could have their way with that defensive line.

* Steve Helwagen Says: Ohio State hasn't lost to Indiana since back-to-back losses in 1987-88. Earle Bruce called the 1987 loss – a 31-10 decision at Bloomington -- the school's "darkest day" and, not coincidentally, he was not the head coach at Ohio State for much longer.

If Indiana is able to come into Columbus and win this year, I think some might call that a miracle of biblical proportions. The Buckeyes are picked to contend for the Big Ten and national championship. OSU did not play exceptionally well in the 2004 home win over IU, but the Buckeyes had a ton of big plays in last year's 41-10 win at IU.

The prognosis is good for Hoeppner's recovery health-wise. Now, he wants to find a way to end IU's postseason drought, now at 12 years and counting. The key will be for IU to follow the Minnesota blueprint by scheduling nonconference wins and stealing two or three Big Ten games.

Indiana did get a nice transfer, Chauncey Incarnato, an offensive lineman from Ohio who spent his first year at Notre Dame. I like Powers at quarterback as well. We haven't seen anybody this good at quarterback there since Trent Green or Antwaan Randle-El, although he was a different kind of quarterback. Hardy has had off-the-field issues. If he doesn't play, where would they be?

The Hoosiers must improve defensively. In the Big Ten, they gave up 41, 38, 41, 46, 42, 41 and the last one was a 41-14 loss to a Purdue team that wasn't that good. They have to be better than that.

Below are archives of past opponent previews:

Game 1: Northern Illinois

Game 2: Texas

Game 3: Cincinnati

Game 4: Penn State

Game 5: Iowa

Game 6: Bowling Green

Game 7: Michigan State


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