I find it kind of odd how after the last two weeks the perception of this season somewhat falls on this game. Everyone was feeling good after playing some good teams close and then beating teams that we should beat. Now after two consecutive whoopings it comes down to the final against Purdue. Win this one and everyone goes into the offseason feeling good about next. Drop it and I feel there will still be some reservations about the program. Fair or unfair the season appears to be coming down to this.
Not only do the Hoosiers need to win but it would be nice to see it done in a convincing fashion. The Hoosiers need to control this game and end on a good one. With recent Purdue woes there is a chance that IU has a semi-home game on Saturday. Purdue fans have found a little bit of confidence again but for the most part the fan base has abandoned the team. Now IU isn't a very good travelling football fanbase yet, but it's close enough there should be a lot of Crimson in the stands.
As for specific units in the game, the Hoosiers defensive line should have a better day than they've had in the last two weeks. I would assume that the Boilers will be starting Robert Marve at QB but Danny Hope has been adamant about playing Caleb TerBush as well so we'll see both. The Hoosiers should be able to get good pressure on both though. Marve is willing to run a little more when pressured but has still taken 12 sacks this year. TerBush has taken 10 in roughly the same number of drop backs. The Hoosiers need to get that pressure to help the secondary.
Marve doesn't make a ton of mistakes throwing the ball so the secondary is going to have to force him to gamble. TerBush on the other hand does. So we're going to have to take advantage when that QB switch eventually happens. None of the Purdue receivers are exactly fearsome but we've seen this IU secondary make FBS receivers look like All-Americans so you never know. Expectations should be for the passing game to be on lockdown. Anything more than 250 yards passing is disappointing.
On the rushing end Akeem Shavers will get the majority of the carries for Purdue. He's certainly had an up and down season and IU needs to make sure Saturday is down. Hold him under triple figures and the rest should fall into place. If Shavers breaks the century mark there is a chance that IU could be in trouble if they want to get the win.
On offense, Cam Coffman needs to come out of his late season funk and take control of this team. Indiana will win on the back of the passing game. The Hoosiers are at their best when they're moving the ball through the air on short screen passes and quick outs. Coffman needs to deliver the ball accurately and let our receivers do the rest. I want 300 passing yards out of IU on Saturday. The best way to get past Purdue is to throw on them. Minnesota showed you can break them early through the air. Indiana needs to do that.
In the rushing game we just need to use it to dictate pace and keep them honest on the pass. We really haven't been a strong running team all season. Don't expect that to change. If the Hoosiers can break their average of 130 yards you would have to think that it is coming in a win. The Hoosiers even when they're up still tend to run through the passing game. That could change next year as the running backs grow but look for Indiana to try and finish the season in the air.
In the end, they just need to win. I don't care how. We need to do Purdue a favor and make sure Danny Hope doesn't come back by them somehow sneaking into a bowl game. And we need to go into the off-season with the idea that 5 wins is a big step forward for the program. It is a lot easier to play the what if game with those close losses with 5 wins and not 4. Hoosiers need to prove head to head they were/are better than Purdue this year and put the final nail into their rebuilding coffin.