My Two Cents: No AP Poll for Indiana, But It Won't Be Another 25 Years
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana went 1,311 weeks without being listed in the Associated Press Top 25 college football poll before last week, so it's not really that strange to not see them listed this week.
After the 34-27 loss to Penn State on Saturday, you figured this might happen — and it did. One week after being No. 24, Indiana slipped out, just barely. They were No. 26 overall.
But here's the good news. The Hoosiers under Tom Allen are certainly trending in the right direction, and there's no way we'll have to wait another 25 years for the Hoosiers to make it back in the poll. The crazy-long drought should never be repeated again, hopefully.
This is the new Indiana football. It's a program on the rise, to be sure, and one that can finally be competitive with the big boys.
They are 7-3 now, and looking for more. Michigan at home, and Purdue on the road are golden opportunities for a big finish.
Impressing us, and others, too.
On Sunday morning, I was having breakfast down in the lobby of my hotel in Altoona, Pa., a little south of State College. I was surrounded by Penn State fans, of course, and almost all of them had been at the game the night before.
All of them, grownups and teenagers alike, were surprised by what they had seen before. Not the Penn State win, of course, but the fact that it was so close and that Indiana put a good scare into them.
They aren't used to that. Indiana has never won at Penn State, 0-11 now, and all but two had been by 20 points or more.
"That's not the same Indiana I remember,'' an older gentleman said. He's been a Penn State season ticket holder for 40 years. "They have athletes now, and that never used to be the case. We were always too quick for them. Now, they hung right with us.''
Another guy laughed that Indiana had cost him $200, because he took Penn State and the 15 points.
The others were all glad that Penn State survived, and that their showdown with Ohio State still mattered this week. One thing's for sure. The Penn State-Indiana games will be worth watching going forward, too.
"Those aren't gimmes anymore,'' the losing gambler said. "I was impressed with Indiana, seeing them in person. They can score.
Getting back in the rankings
I have a feeling Indiana will be back in the rankings at some point this season. They were weren't penalized all that much for a loss on the road at No. 9 Penn State. The quickest way, of course, is to beat Michigan at home on Saturday. The Wolverines are a 7-point favorite.
But even if they don't, beating Purdue and winning a bowl game would probably get them in the final poll of the season. We'll have to wait and see on that.
What we know, though, is what Tom Allen believed at the start of the season. He told his players he thought they were a top-25 team at the beginning of the season, and they've acted like it. Heck, they're really just a few plays away from being 9-1.
And with all this young talent, I won't be a bit surprised if they are ranked in the preseason in 2020.
What matters now is that everyone inside this program feels like this has become a top-25 program, too. They are trending in that direction, and they have plans in place to make that a long-term thing.
The Big Ten, of course, is a tough league where almost everyone wants to feel like they belong in the top 25 at some point. This week, Ohio State is No. 2, Penn State is No. 9, Minnesota is No. 11, Michigan is No. 12, Wisconsin is No. 14 and Iowa is 18th.
Michigan State and Nebraska aren't ranked, but they've lived in the top-25 for years. Even Northwestern is used to being there off and on, and Purdue thinks it should be able to get back there for the first time in 12 years now that they have Jeff Brohm on campus.
There are no givens, of course, for Indiana, but they sure look like a team that belongs.