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Revisiting the good and the bad surrounding the Hoosiers after their 31-24 win over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.
1. 4-0 - Do you have a grasp on exactly how long ago 1990 was? Seriously, a really really long time ago. You'd be lying to say the Hoosiers perfect non-conference slate was any sort of work of art. At times, it more resembled finger paint than any sort of masterpiece. But Indiana currently sits in a spot that it hasn't occupied since the first George Bush was in office, since Calbert Cheaney was a sophomore and since Macauley Culkin was left home in suburban Chicago for the very first time. Making a bowl has proven to be the tallest of orders for an Indiana program that has gone to the postseason once since 1993. The perfect non-conference record is a huge step to making it happen again.
2. Jordan Howard - Water is wet. Bears do their business in the woods. And Jordan Howard pummels another defensive front. Howard became the first player in the past 20 seasons with more than 140 yards rushing in each of his first four games at a school. That stat may make it to the living room of some running back recruits in the future. This time it was 168 yards on 33 carries. The Heisman race seems to be a formality between LSU's Leonard Fournette and Georgia's Nick Chubb at this juncture. Howard could be at least drawing an invite to New York City though with his play thus far this season.
3. Simmie Cobbs Jr. - While Howard has been the mainstay of the early-season rushing attack, a new receiver seems to be emerging weekly as a hero for the IU passing game. This week, it was Cobbs hauling in seven catches for 75 yards and a score. Standing 6-foot-4, Cobbs could emerge as a viable red-zone weapon for quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who needs a receiver with size to emerge with the big-play ability of sub-6 footers Ricky Jones and Mitchell Paige.
4. Another winning effort on D - Erasing the effort of the defense in that 48-47 season-opening win over Southern Illinois will likely never happen - suspended starters and all. But it's at least time to consider that effort as the exception rather than the rule for this team. Wake Forest ran a total of 81 on plays on Saturday and the Hoosier defense allowed 0 yards or fewer yards on 40 of them. And for the third week in a row an underclassman made a play in the defensive backfield as sophomore Tony Fields ran an interception back for what proved to be the decisive score early in the fourth quarter. While the competition really ramps up beginning this week, it's at least a bit soothing for the Hoosier fans soul to think they may not be completely overwhelmed by Big Ten offenses in 2015.
5. Opposing vitriol - While Hoosier fans, students and alumni were having a load of fun putting heat on ESPN to bring its popular "College Gameday" program to Bloomington for this Saturday's game against No. 1 Ohio State, it was fun seeing the extent of bitterness from teams around the Big Ten who scoffed at the mere thought of Indiana garnering recognition on the gridiron. Fans at Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin and others flooded Big Ten Network message boards with talk of how big a joke the idea was. Is Indiana Rose Bowl Bound? Are they in the conversation for the college football playoff? Is it a shoo-in this team will even find two more wins and be bowl bound? No, no and no. But it's less than a month from the start of college hoops practice and legit conversation is still taking place about Indiana University football. That happens as often as Final Four talk in West Lafayette.
1. Twitter - It's amazing just how common a person can fit totally absurd statements into a mere 140 characters but the Twitterverse uncovered a real gem this weekend courtesy of a Purdue beat writer whose name I'll omit because I'm simply a nice guy. The bastion of journalistic integrity that he claims to be, he downplayed Indiana's 4-0 start by going as far as to say the Boilers are simply better than IU, would be 4-0 if they played the same schedule as the Hoosiers and that Indiana would be sitting 1-3 if it had faced the same first month they encountered up north. First, hypothetically playing someone else’s schedule is the almost literal definition of pointlessness. You play the games on your slate and let idiots like Bret Bielema bemoan who they aren't playing. But to say with any sort of conviction that Purdue, the program that has more wins against FCS level teams than FBS level squads in the past three seasons, would be perfect against any schedule four games in is using a level of imagination normally reserved for four year olds jumping on couch cushions to avoid lava traps.