Wisconsin ugliness.

Here's the box score, and like the MSU game, there aren't many or even any positives to take from yesterday. After spotting UW a 17-0 lead, the defense began to play better, but I don't know if that would have been the case absent PJ Hill's injury. Austin Starr has emerged as one of the best kickers in the country. Other than that, this was pretty ugly. IU lost the turnover battle 5-2, was outgained by 150 yards, clealry outpaced in yards per play (5.6 to 4.1), and really just couldn't get anything done. As I said last week, when a team has a chance to beat a marginally but not overwhelmingly better team, it's best to capitalize. Wisconsin played well, IU didn't, and now the Hoosiers have followed a 5-1 start with a 3 game losing streak. A few thoughts:
So, how is the bowl outlook after today?
  • Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin have seven or more wins. Illinois and Penn State are conditionally eligible with six wins. Penn State plays Temple, so they really have seven wins. Minnesota has eight losses.
  • Michigan State is in trouble. The Spartans are 5-4 with games against Michigan, at Purdue, and at home against Penn State. MSU could win any of those games, but getting to six is no guarantee, and getting to seven will require a couple of significant upsets.
  • Iowa improved its prospects with a win against MSU. Iowa is 4-5 with games at Northwestern, and then at home against Minnesota and Western Michigan. The Hawkeyes are substantially likely to get to six wins, but can they win out and get to seven wins? It certainly seems possible.
  • IU, of course, has a must win against Ball State at home this weekend, and then plays at Northwestern and Purdue at home.
  • Northwestern is 5-4 with Iowa and IU at home and Illinois on the road. NU certainly has a good shot at a seven win season, but certainly could lose all three.
  • Illinois is an interesting case. The Illini have won six already, and play at dog-awful Minnesota this weekend. If the Gophers rise up and steal a Big Ten win, then the Illini have to travel to OSU, and then would be playing for quite a bit in their home finale against Northwestern. It seems overwhelmingly likely that Illinois will get to seven wins, but it's not impossible that they could stumble.

Of course, the Hoosiers' distressing trendline in recent weeks certainly has reminded IU fans that we have, in essence, an interim coach. I'm not going to engage in candidate speculation at this point. In part, it would be unfair to the team, which still has a chance to make 2007 IU's best season in ages. Mostly, however, it would be silly to speculate about a search that will be airtight. During his tenure at IU, Rick Greenspan has run two high-profile coaching searches: the 2004 football coaching search and the 2006 basketball coaching search. In each case, Greenspan kept his cards close to the vest. The news of Hoeppner's hiring leaked from Miami after he told his players that he was leaving. Similarly, none of the talking heads were mentioning Kelvin Sampson until the news broke that he would be hired. Anyone who claims to have any insight into the process probably doesn't.

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