Sunday, September 28, 2014

IU: Signature loss

OK. So maybe they're not all that.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Saturday the attention might have been riveted in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines got Little Brown Jugged in the Big House by Minnesota and Brady Hoke, booed by the faithful, sounded more and more like a man tilting at his last windmill. But if all that merely demonstrated that it's hard to win in big-boy college football, even in a place as hallowed as Michigan, the most ringing corroboration of that came from five hours south in  Bloomington, Indiana.

Where the Hoosiers, a week after what everyone called a "signature win" over a ranked SEC school on the road, lost big at home to so-so Maryland.

The final was 37-15, and if it wasn't the easiest call of the day it was in the team photo.  That the Hoosiers would be unable to handle the moment was, after all, pretty much a given. They simply have no frame of reference for the level of expectation and scrutiny created by beating a Missouri on the road, and so they succumbed to the most ordinary of failings for ordinary football teams: The Big Letdown after the Big W.

It was a signature loss to follow the signature win, with the former perhaps writ larger. The win clearly showed that what Kevin Wilson is doing in Bloomington is working, if slowly; the loss just as clearly showed that the work is nowhere near finished.

And when will it be?

When beating a Missouri is no longer a signature win, but only what should be expected from time to time. Should Indiana ever get to that point .... well, the Hoosiers won't be getting ball-peened by Maryland the next week.

You can sign that.

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