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Game week!

Five days from today, almost to the hour, the Hoosiers begin the 2008 season with a home game against new-to-I-A Western Kentucky. Plenty of questions remain about the season and the program. Will Kellen Lewis, Ben Chappell, or both be the quarterback? How will IU's offense respond to the departure of James Hardy? Will the addition of Jerimy Finch and the return of most of the front seven take some pressure off of IU's newbie cornerbacks? Is the real Bill Lynch the guy from the middle years of his career at BSU, or the guy from the rest of his career? What is certain is that the long bowl drought is over. We won't have to read about it in the newspaper or hear color commentators discuss it during every game.
In light of the rapidly approaching season, a few executive decisions:
  • I'll continue the position-by-position previews as the week transpires, in addition to previewing the WKU game specifically.
  • I'm not going to be able to continue the 2007 retrospectives in any detail. The rest of this post will contain links and brief discussion of the last seven games of the 2007 season.

The season that was, abbreviated version:

  • Game 7: Michigan State 52, Indiana 27. Here's the box, here's my unhappy recap. The euphoria of the Bucket game and the thrill of the first bowl bid in 14 years allowed me forget just how frustrating was the last half of the 2007 season. In 2006, IU obliterated MSU in Bloomington, scoring 46 unanswered points on the way to a not-as-close-as-the-score 46-21 win. In 2007, MSU got its revenge, dominating all but the scoreboard in the first half and finally expanding its lead in the second half. This was a splash of cold water after a 5-1 start.
  • Game 8: Penn State 36, Indiana 31. The box; the recap. IU played Penn State for the first time since the 2004 gut-puch, a game in which PSU stopped IU on four consecutive plays from the one yard line to preserve a victory. Fumbles and mental errors by two of IU's best players, Kellen Lewis (three fumbles) and Tracy Porter (a fumbled punt return, and allowing a punt to bounce to the 5 instead of catching it at the 30 on IU's last possession) sealed IU's fate.
  • Game 9: Wisconsin 33, Indiana 3. The box; the recap. Late October was not good to the Hoosiers. The final score really says it all. This one could have been as ugly as the MSU game if PJ Hill hadn't been injured during the game.
  • Game 10: Indiana 38, Ball State 20. The box; the recap. After a rough few weeks, IU clinched a non-losing season and provisional bowl eligibility by beating a solid Ball State team by 18 despite too many turnovers. IU plays Ball State in game 3 of 2008, so we'll revisit this one soon.
  • Game 11: Northwestern 31, Indiana 28. The box; the recap. Had IU not held on against Purdue, this game, and the handling of Ben Chappell during his brief injury substitution for Lewis, might have cost Bill Lynch a chance at the job. IU lost its fourth consecutive game to Northwestern, and all four games have been decided in overtime or by less than a touchdown.
  • Game 12: Indiana 27, Purdue 24. The box, the recap. IU kept the Bucket in Bloomington for the first time in six years despite allowing Purdue to come back from a 24-3 deficit. While a blowout would have been nice, after a gut-wrenching collapse, IU managed (barely) to move the ball into Austin Starr's range, and the 49-yard game-winning field goal become one of the most memorable moments of the 2007 season nationally and one of the most treasured moments in IU's football history.
  • Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33. The box; the recap. This game followed the same script as the MSU game: IU was manhandled from start to finish by a talented team with a mediocre record, despite the deceptively close score. This game is the reason that I ranked Oklahoma State in my preseason blogpoll ballot: IU was no worldbeater last year, but this OSU team has lots of talent, particularly at the offensive skill positions. While the loss was disappointing, IU played in its first bowl game since 1993 and its first warm weather bowl game since 1991. It was progress, and by all accounts a great experience for players and IU fans.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Rittenberg notes that IU's depth chart is out and has some interesting observations on tight end, corner, and WR. Here is IU's week 1 depth chart, within the weekly release (pdf warning).