This was supposed to be that game.
Ball State. Navy. Bowling Green.
If you're judging on a sliding scale, it wouldn't be a massive that game. Western Kentucky was, and still is, a team that should be the C-USA favorite and has an very outside shot taking the Group of Five bid to a New Year's Six bowl. But the helmet still says Western Kentucky and it's still a Conference USA opponent. If it looks like a that game, it's probably a that game.
And for a half, it looked like that game.
Antonio Allen's offseason loss looked more prevalent than ever as Indiana's young secondary was carved up by Brandon Doughty -- to the tune of 352 first half passing yards. Linebackers missed tackles. Big pass plays were commonplace. And while Kevin Wilson's offense looked good -- a defense in that form requires more than good, it requires flawless, and the Hoosiers were hardly perfect. An unforced Nate Sudfeld fumble and a 4th down stop left a few first half points still on the field.
Then, it turned.
Young safety Jonathan Crawford made two massive interceptions for the Hoosiers and it was off to the races. For the third straight week, Indiana held their opponent without a third quarter touchdown. Add to that three touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the third stanza -- and you've got the perfect lead in to hand the ball to college football's best closer in Jordan Howard. Game. Set. Match.
This sounds similiar to what I wrote last week, but Indiana is starting to do the things good teams across the college game do. Adjust at halftime. Win the battle in the trenches. Create turnovers. Run the dang ball. Good teams do not have to click on all cylinders at all times. There are plenty of teams that have stumbled ass-backwards into a good, great, or even national championship seasons by simply doing these four things and finding away to close it all up in the end. This is not Kevin Wilson's most talented team at Indiana -- but it might be his most complete. And it comes at an opportune time when the schedule is favorable and other Big Ten East teams are going through a period of transition. A bit of good fortune for the program that has lost more Division I football games than any program ever is not something to shake a stick at. It's something nearly every built-from-scratch program like Baylor or TCU or Kansas State has benefitted from.
Now, Kevin Wilson's team stands 3-0 with a more-than-winnable trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on an offensively hapless Wake Forest team that needed a last-second field goal to knock off an Army team that lost to Fordham Saturday. No Indiana team has been 4-0 since 1990, and it's a trap game in every sense of the phrase. But it's a game Indiana should win if the the program's growth curve continues.
And what waits on the other side?
Hold onto your butts, y'all. We're in for one helluva two weeks in Bloomington.