College football insider: Many Big Ten teams still a mystery

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 2, 2012 - 6:56 AM

With Ohio State and Penn State ruled out, Indiana, believe it or not, is a viable contender for the Big Ten football title game.

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, whose Hoosiers are 4-36 in Big Ten play over the past five seasons, has refused to indulge in the daydream of the conference championship game.

Photo: Sam Riche, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

They're doing something different at Indiana's Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Hoosiers are planning to stage something they haven't experienced in years, even decades: a big game. And if it's a success, they'll play one exponentially larger a week later.

Yes, the Hoosiers are 4-36 in Big Ten play over the past five seasons, and it has been more than three years since a Big Ten opponent lost in Bloomington. And sure, they were on a five-game losing streak that included their second consecutive setback to Ball State before beating 2-6 Illinois last Saturday -- in a game in which the Hoosiers, according to coach Kevin Wilson, were largely outplayed.

In that context, the sudden surge of optimism surrounding Indiana football seems silly. But circumstances have converged this year to make the impossible at least modestly plausible and to give the Hoosiers a shot at -- you might want to sit down for this one -- the Big Ten championship game.

I know, I know. But hear me out.

The two legacy powerhouses in the Leaders Division, Ohio State and Penn State, are ineligible for the postseason, and the conference as a whole has stumbled backward toward mediocrity. Indiana is 3-5 on the season and only 1-3 in Big Ten play, but with Illinois and Purdue both 0-4, the Hoosiers are in second place among the four eligible division opponents.

Wisconsin was ceded its second consecutive division title when fall camp opened, but quarterbacking issues and inconsistency on the offensive line have hurt the Badgers. And when Michigan State stopped Wisconsin's 21-game home winning streak last week and handed the Badgers their second conference loss, the Hoosiers suddenly became viable.

Not that Wilson, who had lost his first 11 Big Ten games before Saturday, is willing to admit it. "We've got a long way to go in building our team," Wilson said. "We have had very short success, very small success."

Fine, we'll do it for him. Here it is: The Hoosiers take on Iowa in Bloomington on Saturday, and the 2-2 Hawkeyes will be without their most important offensive weapon, tailback Mark Weisman, out because of an ankle injury. If Indiana wins, it sets up a showdown for the division lead the following Saturday in Bloomington against Wisconsin.

Upset the Badgers -- admittedly a long shot, given that it hasn't happened in a decade -- and Indiana would own the tie-breaker, while the Badgers would head into a difficult final two weeks, with a home game against Ohio State and a trip to Penn State, knowing it must win at least one and possibly both games. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, go to Penn State but then close their season with a winnable game at Purdue, in what might well be Boilermakers coach Danny Hope's final game.

The Hoosiers dominated Michigan State for a half before falling by four points last month, then came within three points of upsetting the unbeaten Buckeyes. Their passing offense ranks first in the Big Ten, even though they are splitting time between backup quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld.

"We finally had the scoreboard go our way Saturday, but we still have a lot of things to clean up," said Wilson, refusing to indulge in the title-game daydream. "We're not nearly as good as we're capable of being. We preach constant, daily improvement, and the kids are doing a good job of it. But we've got a lot of work to do here."

  • related content

  • Phil Miller's Big Ten short takes

    Thursday November 1, 2012

    • Penn State is expected to have difficulty recruiting players, especially at skill positions, while its four-year postseason ban is in place, but Bill O'Brien is showing one way he...

  • Phil Miller's Big Ten power poll

    Thursday November 1, 2012

    1. Ohio State (9-0; vs. Illinois)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Oakland 2 Bottom 2nd Inning
Kansas City 1
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
NY Islanders 3 3rd Prd
Boston 1
NY Rangers 2 3rd Prd 18:38
Philadelphia 3
Ottawa 0 2nd Prd
Winnipeg 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 19:27
St. Louis 1
Tampa Bay 1 1st Prd 10:41
Dallas 0
Colorado 8:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question