The Hoosiers attempt to get back into the win column when they face Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday afternoon. This is the first meeting between IU and Navy since 1986. The two schools faced each other in 1985 and 1986, both times in Bloomington, and IU won both meetings, 38-35 in 1985 and 52-29 in 1986. IU has never played any other service academy, which surprises me to some degree.
The Midshipmen's overall record against current Big Ten schools is pretty respectable, 26-41-2. Nevertheless, the games nearly all took place in the 1960s or earlier, and that overall total is skewed a bit by Navy's 17-18-2 record against Penn State. Navy's last win over a Big Ten school was a win over Illinois in 1979. Certainly, however, Navy has claimed some major wins over the last decade or so. Navy beat Notre Dame in 2007,2009, and 2010, and has wins over Wake Forest (2008, 2009, 2010), Missouri (2009 Texas Bowl), Rutgers (2004, 2008), Duke (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Pitt (2007), Stanford (2006), and Vanderbilt (2003, 2004). That's 16 wins in the last decade over Notre Dame or programs from major conferences. IU has 14 such wins (13 Big Ten wins plus the 2004 win at Oregon) in the last decade.
Unfortunately for the academy, however, it appears that the program is falling back to earth after an excellent decade. The Midshipmen salvaged some hope for the season last weekend by winning at Air Force, but have lost to everyone with a pulse since then, including blowout losses to ND and Penn State. My guess is that the Midshipmen and their supporters have circled this game, against a Big Ten opponent in their home stadium, as an opportunity to stop the decline.
As for IU, it will be a challenge to face the potent Navy option. The IU defense has shown glimmers, and Kevin Wilson has mentioned more than once that IU has been working on defending the triple option since before the season started. This is an important game for IU, too, and is the beginning of a three week stretch (@Navy, @ Illinois, Iowa) that probably will define the season. More as the week continues.
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