My two cents: Hoosiers win a laugher, but now things get serious

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The phrase “woefully overmatched’’ has been used often in reports about Indiana’s football team during its inglorious history. But it got flipped on Saturday, because it was the Hoosiers who were laying on a whipping.

IU had absolutely no trouble with Eastern Illinois at Memorial Stadium, winning 52-0 in — dare I say — a game that wasn’t even that close. This was complete and epic domination from the first whistle to the last. How rare is it for an Indiana team to win by 52? Well, it’s never happened before in the history of Memorial Stadium.

So the Hoosiers are 2-0 now, and they’ve done what they were supposed to do in getting ready for a visit by the No. 5-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes next Saturday. The mistakes they made last week in the win against Ball State were cleaned up pretty well.

These wins were nice, but now they’re ready to make a statement.

A huge statement. 

Just ask Indiana wide receiver Whip Philyor, who’s always loaded with bravado. He stopped a reporter mid-sentence when he asked “This is why you come to Indiana, to PLAY teams like Ohio State …”

“I came here to Indiana to WIN games like this against Ohio State, said Philyor who had a highlight-reel run and a highlight-reel catch during the rout. “We’ll be ready next week. Shoot, I wish we were playing them today.’’

A week of practice might certainly be better, but this is what you can give the Hoosiers credit for: In the last two weeks, they’ve taken care of business. Even with Eastern Illinois, a team you should dominate, the Hoosiers did exactly that. Dominate. In all phases. For 60 minutes.

“It’s hard to shut somebody out,’’ said Indiana coach Tom Allen, who loved how aggresive his defense played in registering two sacks and eight tackles for loss. “Look, they averaged 30 points a game last year and played an SEC team (Arkansas) and scored 20 points. I don’t make the schedule, but it’s our job do to what we are supposed to do, no matter who we play. I feel like we did that.’’

Are there still issues with this Indiana team? Sure. Can things get better? Of course. But at the very least, they’ve learned a lot on both sides of the ball.

And they are confident going forward.

“Coach (Kane) Wommack told us today that we had to come out from the jump and keep swinging, and that’s what we did,’’ said Indiana defensive end James Head, who lived in the Eastern Illinois backfield all day. He had a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. “We focused on tackling all week, especially in our full-pads days, and we took that out to the field pretty well.

“There are still things we need to work on, but I feel like we’ve established a good foundation in these first two weeks. Guys are making plays. We’ll build on it, and we will be ready for next week. We will be ready for Ohio State.’’

Ohio State has been impressive themselves in its first two wins. Saturday was supposed to be a big test for them against in-state rival Cincinnati and Bearcats coach Luke Fickel, the former Ohio State coach. But the Buckeyes thrashed them 42-0 and made a huge statement that they are the team to beat in the Big Ten.

Next Saturday, certainly, is going to be much more intense. Attendance was 37,784 on Saturday and the IU students did a great job of filling close to four sections of the stadium. But by halftime, when it was 35-0 and a laugher, almost all of them were gone.

Memorial Stadium will be sold out next week, and most everyone will likely be there until the end. We know all about Indiana’s horrid history with the Buckeyes, who have won 23 games in a row in the series. Indiana hasn’t won since 1988, and the Hoosiers are 12-74-5 in the all-time series.

But there is hope. IU has played them tough for two or three quarters the past several years, but they never had the depth or the horses to stay with Ohio State. Indiana’s players and coaches feel like they’ve closed that gap, and we’ll see next Saturday.

So all that can be said of this Eastern Illinois game is that it was played, and it was won by Indiana the way it was supposed to. Complete at utter domination is a good things.

Will it mean anything next week? We’ll just have to wait and see.