Let's not get it twisted:
This win was huge.
It has everything you look for when it comes to big wins: middling team in a struggling conference heads into the house of a talented program in the nation's premier conference. They spend the entire game matching each punch with their own counter, somehow finding a way to summon up enough defense to prevent Mizzou from landing a knockout blow. Even when Andrew Baggett's 40-yard field goal gave the Tigers a 27-24 lead with a little over two minutes to play, this team dug deep and showed the kind of resolve that had been conspicuously missing for years.
The Hoosiers only needed a field goal to extend the game, but we've seen how this movie ends: an obviously backwards pass to Tevin Coleman is allowed to fall conspicuously to the turf and then all the glass within arms reach is broken.
Not this time.
The Hoosiers kept their composure, both emotionally and mentally, and put a go-ahead score of their own up on the board. Yes, they needed a late (but fair) flag to keep the drive alive early, but they earned their victory. They put the ball in the hands of their playmakers with the game on the line and were rewarded handsomely for staying to true to a proven football axiom. Tevin Coleman accounted for 47 yards on the final drive and D'Angelo Roberts, at worst the team's 4th best option on offense (maybe better), took over for the winded Coleman and perfectly executed two runs up the middle that gave the Hoosiers the lead and bled the clock so low that not even this much-maligned Hoosier defensive unit could surrender another walk-off touchdown.
That didn't keep the last possession from being interesting. Mizzou's chances of scoring seemed a lot higher in the minds of Hoosier fans who spent the entire game waiting for the other shoe to drop (like me, and you, and every IU fan on the planet). In reality, Mizzou never really threatened to score, even the untimed down after a dubious roughing the passer penalty on the Hoosiers gave Mizzou one more chance from 48 yards away. Not a high-percentage look for a football team, even when you factor in the guys out there to defend, but, again, I'm sure we all felt there was at least a 60% chance that the Tigers were going to find the end zone on the play and were making our plans accordingly.
What It Means:
- It means our season goals are still well within reach. In terms of "bowl eligibility," the Hoosiers are right back on schedule. Pretty much every forecast that included a bowl game for IU required us to be 3-1 in the non-conference slate. A loss on the road to Bowling Green put that target in significant danger, but not anymore.
- It means we can forget about the hiccup in Bowling Green. Plenty were rightfully down on IU after the loss against Bowling Green, but I'm curious how everyone would feel if the Hoosiers get the last stop against the Falcons and then come up short yesterday. That's more "in line" with what we thought the Hoosiers ability level was this season, but wouldn't you rather have the Mizzou win?
- If you said "I'd rather have both" after reading that last bullet it means YOU MISSED THE POINT OF THE EXERCISE.
What It Doesn't Mean:
- It doesn't mean this is our WatShot. Yet. For those who don't remember what the WatShot is, I'll link the video for you. While the D'Angelo Dive (trademark pending) could be a watershed moment for the program, the team has to build on that moment to give it any real meaning. The WatShot would likely stand alone as a memorable moment given its place in the rivalry and whatnot, but what gave that moment it's lasting shine is the basketball team using it as a catalyst to return to the NCAA Tournament as a 4-seed and enjoying at least a momentary renaissance into the next season. Change happens one game at a time, and it's in the next few games that IU must prove the Mizzou win was the start of a trend and not statistical noise. Essentially: don't lose to Maryland.
- It doesn't mean I'm a soothsayer. Just saying I totally predicted this win the Preseason Predict-o, but I'm no hero. I also was pretty darn close on my final score prediction in the ISU game AND I had us winning a close, high-scoring game with BG, instead of losing a close, high-scoring game against BG. Send me your money and in the comments I will tell you an approximation of what the future holds for you.
- It doesn't mean the B1G is better than the SEC. EXCEPT IT DOES. AHAHAHAHA SUCKS TO SUCK, PAWWWWWWWWWWWWW.