Extra Points: OSU vs. Indiana

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Every Ohio State loss is followed by a scene that resembles a chapter from the Old Testament. There are the lamentations, the rending of garments and - after particularly painful losses - the sacrifice of burnt offerings.

Minus the couch fires, this is as it should be. OSU has a tradition of excellence, and expectations are set correspondingly high.

But consider real disappointment. Consider real pain. Consider the plight of the Indiana fan.

Last week the Hoosiers faced a top-25 opponent in Michigan, a team they haven't beaten since 1987. They came so tantalizingly close in a 36-33 loss that the Indianapolis Star called it "Big Hurt in the Big House."

What's sad is the Hoosiers have become so accustomed to that kind of hurt, they're almost numb to it. Keanu Reeves has a similar feeling every time Oscar nominations are released.

"Why is it that programs like Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame always seem to find a way in the closing minutes to pull out games like that," wrote the Star's Terry Hutchens, "and the programs with the losing pedigrees are unable to do the same?"

Late coach Terry Hoeppner tried to change that perspective. His enthusiasm was contagious. In his first year at the helm, season ticket sales among students rose 110 percent.

Hoeppner had a master's degree in education, and he taught his team to face the long odds and embrace them.

In fact, it was Hoeppner who faced the longest odds with a grace and humility that touched everyone he knew. He was 59 years old when he died of cancer in 2007. His passing was a loss more painful than losing any game could be.

Bill Lynch took over and became the first coach in school history to lead the Hoosiers to a bowl game in his first season.

But even that wasn't enough to shake the sense that the Hoosiers are a team that can't quite break through. They are a team that, as Hutchens put it, has a "losing pedigree."

They were 3-9 last year. They have three wins already this year, but those victories are against Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan and Akron, roughly the equivalent of beating the Swiss Army in battle.

Then came the heartbreaker against Michigan: a loss marred by a controversial interception, a loss in the final minutes, a loss that somehow seemed inevitable to Indiana fans.

So it is that a win at home against the Buckeyes would also resemble a scene from the Old Testament. Think the Israelites finding the Promised Land after years in the desert.

OSU Fast Fact


Number of people who follow Indiana football on Twitter. A Jim Tressel imposter has 3,719 followers.

Huddle Up

Indiana put a scare into Michigan last week, so there's no chance they'll sneak up on the Buckeyes.

Running back Darius Willis rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Ben Chappell completed 21 of 38 passes for 270 yards, and the Hoosiers probably would have won, if they hadn't stalled in the red zone.

Through four games, Indiana has allowed fewer sacks than any other team in the nation. Meanwhile, OSU has relied on their hard-charging defensive line this season. It's been a wrecking ball aimed at opposing teams.

So if the cliche is true that games are won and lost in the trenches, this matchup will prove it.

What: OSU vs. Indiana

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3

Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana

Web: ohiostatebuckeyes.com

TV: Big Ten Network

Listen to Lori Schmidt on 97.1 The Fan and follow her at twitter.com/LoriSchmidt