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Indiana College Football Recap

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Indianapolis on a Saturday afternoon, there’s a plethora of Indianapolis attractions available, but if you’re willing to make a morning drive, you can take in the best of what Indiana has to offer in terms of college football. This past weekend was a perfect example, as three of Indiana’s biggest Universities competed in thrilling contests. Let’s take a look back at those games, and see what the upcoming schedule has to offer Indianapolis sports fans.

Indiana University: After starting the season with three straight victories, the Hoosiers promptly lost their next three games, including a 47-7 spanking at the hands of Virginia last week. Needing a win to salvage any hopes of playing in a Bowl game, the Hoosiers, in front of a homecoming crowd, delivered a convincing defeat over the Fightin’ Illini of Illinois 24-7.

Bloomington native Ben Chappell set career highs by throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns, but he was hardly the biggest hero for the Hoosiers. Jammie Kirlew forced two second half fumbles, none bigger than the strip of Juice Williams as Illinois sat inside Indiana’s 10-yard line. Mitchell Evans was all over the field on the offensive end; throwing the ball (although he didn’t complete any), catching the ball (he had 3 for 17 yards), and most effectively, running the ball out of the “Wild Mitch” formation (his 84 yards led the Hoosiers). Sophomore Tanden Doss continued to show why he’s one of the top receivers in the Big Ten by catching seven passes for 130 yards and a 44-yard score. The Ben Davis product now ranks third in the league in both receptions (48) and yards (676).

UPCOMING: Indiana faces a very beatable Northwestern (4-3, 1-2) squad next week, and if Bill Lynch’s team has any aspirations of playing football after November, it should be treated as a must-win.

Notre Dame University: For those Indianapolis football fans who support the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, Saturday’s game in South Bend against longtime rival USC was a bag of mixed emotions. On the one hand, the Irish avoided a fourth straight lopsided loss to the Trojans. On the other, a loss is still a loss, and this one just happened to be Notre Dame’s seventh straight against a Top-10 opponent.

With Charlie Weiss’ team trailing 34-14 early in the fourth quarter, another blowout loss seemed inevitable, but quarterback Jimmy Clausen rallied the offense by running for a two-yard score, and then, after an Irish interception, completed a 15-yard TD pass to receiver Golden Tate to cut the score to 34-27.  With time winding down, the Irish got the ball back, and proceeded to drive the length of the field to the Trojans four-yard line. Unfortunately, they were unable to punch it in from there, as three straight Clausen passes fell incomplete.

UPCOMING: The 4-2 Irish will attempt to end another losing streak against a rival opponent on Saturday when Boston College visits South Bend for the annual “Holy War.” The Eagles have won six straight over the “Golden-Domers,” but oddsmakers seem to think the Irish are ready to put an end to the losing; they enter the game as eight point favorites.

Purdue University: Heading into Saturday, The Purdue football team had lost their previous five games by a combined 33 points (that’s less than a touchdown per game for you non math majors). With all those close defeats, in was due time that the Boilermakers notched another mark in the victory column, and what better way to get it done than by beating the 7th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at home in West Lafayette?

Purdue used an attacking defense to force Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor into four turnovers, while leaning heavily on fifth-year senior QB Joey Elliot’s efficiency and ball control skills. Elliot, an Evansville native, who now leads the conference in passing yards and touchdowns thrown, completed 31-of-50 passes for 281 yards and two scores. Once again, his favorite targets were Keith Smith and Aaron Valentin, as the duo accounted for 22 catches and 222 yards.

Although Purdue hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2003 — a streak that spanned 19 games — Boiler fans knew just what to do when the clock hit zero and the scoreboard froze at 26-18 in favor of the home team; they stormed the field, of course, leaving the many Buckeye enthusiasts that attended the game in a silent, stunned disbelief.

UPCOMING: Purdue needs to win four of their remaining five games to be bowl-eligible, and a home date against one-win Illinois next week should cut that number to three. With Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana representing the other four opponents, a miraculous season turnaround is not out of the realm of possibility.