There are no fingers you can snap, no buttons you can push to advance the cause being championed by Indiana football coach Bill Lynch.

Hard work, not wishful thinking, is the best approach to getting the Hoosiers over the proverbial hump.

"It is a cliché, getting over the hump, and all that means is winning one of those close games," Lynch said during the weekly Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "We're close. We're going to get there. You've just got to keep pounding away at it."

Indiana is winless in the Big Ten Conference entering Saturday's game against the University of Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium, but that 0-5 mark demands some perspective.

Yes, the Hoosiers lost by 28 points at Ohio State and 30 at Illinois, but they fell agonizingly short in home games against Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa.

Indiana ran more than twice as many plays, converted 11 of 19 third downs and held the ball for 41 minutes, 47 seconds, but still dropped a 42-35 decision to Michigan Oct. 2.

The Hoosiers had nine tackles for loss and broke up seven passes — both season highs — but watched as Northwestern claimed a 20-17 win Oct. 30.

Most galling was an 18-13 loss to Iowa last week in which Indiana allowed nine points in the final quarter and had a potential winning touchdown pass dropped.

This isn't a new phenomenon. Since Lynch took over as coach in 2007, the Hoosiers are 2-7 in Big Ten games decided by six points or less, including an 0-5 mark the past two seasons.

"We have been a play away quite a bit. We've been a series away quite a bit," Lynch said. "You keep knocking on the door and that's the approach we're taking, and we certainly will do again this week."

If Indiana (4-5) is to become bowl-eligible for the first time under Lynch it will have to win at least two of its remaining three games, against UW, Penn State and Purdue.

The No. 6 Badgers have won five straight in the series and 11 of the last 13 dating to 1993. However, the game last season went down to the wire before UW emerged with a 31-28 victory.

"They're obviously a great football team and playing for a lot," Lynch said. "It's all out in front of them. I'm sure that's what they're talking about, that they control their own destiny and all. Our challenge is to go and play a great football team in their stadium and play to the best of our ability."

The Hoosiers will try to get by with a one-dimensional offense. They rank first in the Big Ten in passing (302.8 yards per game) but last in rushing (97.1 yards).

That air attack is impressive, though. Ben Chappell is the top passer in the league, averaging 296.3 yards with an 18-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He throws to three of the top four pass-catchers in the Big Ten in Damarlo Belcher (67 catches, 706 yards, two TDs), Tandon Doss (47, 550, two TDs) and Terrance Turner (45, 459, two TDs).

It's hard to get pressure on Chappell, who has been sacked eight times, the second-fewest in the league.

Lynch said his players know how close they are to a breakthrough and continue to work hard toward that moment.

"We have to keep believing, keep working and keep preparing," he said. "There isn't magic to it. It's not like we can pick up the phone, call somebody and if we do this all of a sudden that will get done."

Indiana Wisconsin

When: Saturday, 11 a.m.

Where: Camp Randall Stadium

TV: ESPN2

Radio: WIBA-FM/101.5 and AM/1310 with Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas

Wisconsin: Stats | Roster | Schedule

Indiana: Stats | Roster | Schedule

You might also like

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.