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No rest for Hoosiers after winning big



Published: Wed, October 18, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



They're coming off of their biggest upset since 1987.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- The Indiana Hoosiers had one night to celebrate their upset of Iowa.

By Sunday, it was back to work, and by Tuesday, it was time to go full bore at their next big challenge: Playing No. 1 Ohio State.

"It's rewarding any time you work hard for something and you see it pay off," safety Will Meyers said. "But you're in Sunday morning watching film of the No. 1 team in the nation, so you don't have much time to enjoy it."

The Hoosiers (4-3, 2-1) may have preferred taking another week to savor the school's biggest upset since 1987, but the schedule-makers weren't so kind.

Need mistake-free game

Instead, they're sending Indiana to Columbus, Ohio, this week for its biggest test of the season. Most figure it will take a mistake-free game just to keep it close, much less win.

Ohio State has a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Troy Smith, a defense that annually ranks among the nation's best, and a return game that includes the always dangerous Ted Ginn Jr.

Indiana must also overcome another hurdle. In 13 previous meetings against top-ranked teams, Indiana has never won. The last time they faced a No. 1 team, Ohio State beat them 38-7 in Bloomington in 1998.

The Hoosiers heard a similar storyline last week and still managed to produce their biggest upset since 1987. Even Hoeppner tempered his businesslike approach temporarily Tuesday to reflect on the significance of beating Iowa 31-28.

"I think it's inspiring to get some confirmation of what you're doing is working," Hoeppner said. "It's tangible. You can see it, you can feel it with the team."

But Iowa is not Ohio State, and the Hoosiers need every advantage they can get to extend their two-game winning streak.

They've already shown they can defy the odds.

Streak is over

In the last two weeks, Indiana has ended a Big Ten road losing streak that dated to 2001, and won back-to-back conference games for the first time in five years. Now they face a Buckeyes team they haven't beaten since 1988 and for the second straight week enter the game as a major underdog.

Players and coaches don't seem to care what outsiders think.

Saturday's upset gave the Hoosiers a boost of confidence and energized the team to the point they're not dreading this week's matchup but instead looking forward to it.

"The way I look at it, it's fun," said Meyers, a senior. "I don't think I've ever played the No. 1 team in the nation. I think all eyes will be on us to see how we respond after Saturday."

Hoeppner also had some good news Tuesday.

He said running back Marcus Thigpen, the nation's top kick returner, should play against the Buckeyes. Thigpen sat on a training table for most of the second half last weekend with what appeared to be a right leg injury.

Indiana does not divulge detailed injury information, citing a federal privacy law.

Hoeppner also hopes to have freshman receiver Ray Fisher back this week. Fisher missed the Iowa game with a wrist injury he sustained on the winning drive at Illinois.

Players needed

If both can play, the Hoosiers will have more speed and depth -- two things they can desperately use against the talented Buckeyes.

"The Tuesday report is that they should be full speed by [today]," Hoeppner said. "But I defer to the trainers for those things."

Another change this week: Bowl talk has crept back into the Hoosiers vocabulary. They need two more wins to become bowl eligible for the first time in 13 years. The Hoosiers' final four games are against reeling Michigan State, Minnesota, No. 2 Michigan and rival Purdue.

So while the upset of Iowa provided some enjoyable moments last weekend, what the Hoosiers intend to do now is figure out a way to end the nation's longest winning streak at 14 -- and put themselves in bowl contention.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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