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College Football Recap Week 1


Keith Wenning and Tommy Rees set a high standard for their 2013 seasons.  Wenning went 24-40 for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns as Ball State beat Illinois State 51-28.  Maybe even more astounding is the fact that the Cardinals trailed 21-9 late in the second quarter before scoring 42 consecutive points.  Wenning and company have some high expectations this season especially on offense and they did not disappoint.  Rees set a career high with 346 passing yards.  He was very efficient only needing 23 passing attempts to get there.  He completed 16 attempts with three going for touchdowns.  This was a great opener for Rees who is back in the starting role for the Irish.


The Indiana offense came into the season expecting to be explosive.  In their Thursday opener against Indiana State, they set a school record with 73 points.  The Hoosiers rolled up 623 yards of total offense on their way to scoring nine touchdowns.  The quick strike ability of the offense was in full affect.  This was all done with a three man QB rotation.  Tre Roberson got the start and threw for two scores.  Then the offense really took off when sophomore Nate Sudfeld stepped in.  He went 12-17 for 219 yards and a very impressive 4 touchdowns.  IU will lean heavily on the offense this season to put up major points and they showed that ability in a big way.


Most of the early season games for the in-state schools are not huge heavyweight battles.  The one big exception is next week when Notre Dame travels to Michigan.  This is the last scheduled meeting for these long time rivals.  Notre Dame is moving to the ACC in all sports other than football but with that agreement the Irish will play five ACC schools each year.  The annual match up for these two schools was a casualty of the move.  This will be a top 20 match up with emotions running high.  The last time the Irish traveled to Ann Arbor it was a primetime classic with Michigan scoring a touchdown late for a come-from-behind win.  This one is shaping up to a be another late night thriller.


Where did Purdue go at halftime in Cincinnati?  Darrel Hazell’s first game as Boilermakers head coach started off slow, but in a tight contest.  The end result however was a blow out with the Boilers on the wrong end.  It was a 7-7 game before Cincinnati scored a touchdown with just :17 seconds remaining in the first half taking a 14-7 lead to the half.  That score started a Bearcat onslaught of 35 straight points resulting in a 42-7 victory.  Purdue never found a rhythm offensively and when Cincy gained the momentum the Boiler defense had no answer.  This was a disappointing opener for Hazell.  The new pro-style offense he is installing never got off the ground and turned the ball over four times.  The 35 point loss was the worst season opener for Purdue since a 52-14 loss at Michigan State in 1996.  PU will look to get on track next week when Indiana State comes to Ross-Ade Stadium.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Inside the Man Room

College football is here so it is time for my season preview.  The Man Room this week is completely filled with college football talk and nothing else.  I break down all four of the FBS schools as well as several other in state schools.  Plus Jeremy Gray from IU joins me to preview the Hoosiers’ season.

Follow me on @thadvandeventer or @IndySportsCrew and remember to subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes.

Rise and Fire

An Incredibly Early Look at IU’s Football Schedule

This week the Big Ten Network announced their primetime football schedule.  Indiana will host three games under the lights- Indiana St. (8/29), Navy (9/7), and Missouri (9/21).  Looking at the press release made me think about how the Hoosiers schedule is shaping up and what the season will hold for them.  So no better time to to look ahead at college football than early May.

Coach Kevin Wilson is in his third year at IU.  He made some improvements in the program from the first year to the second.  Now with eight home games on the horizon can the Hoosiers make the most of it.

Indiana will play their first five games at home.  Opening on a Thursday night in their primetime match up with ISU.  They follow that up with Navy the following weekend again at night.  Both of these teams are solid but should be victories for IU (2-0).  Bowling Green is next up.  Last season IU had an opportunity to get to 3-0 when another MAC school in Ball State came calling.  The Cardinals won a thriller with a last second field goal.  BGSU is not as good as Ball State and the Hoosiers are improved.  IU wins this one taking another step forward (3-0). Getting off to a good start in the non-conference is key as the Big Ten schedule is as tough as ever.

Week four brings a major test to Bloomington.  Missouri comes calling in the third non-conference primetime game.  The Tigers are the first BCS conference opponent for IU.  Recently moving to the SEC from the Big XII, Missouri is no stranger to big boy football.  The 8:00 PM kickoff and 3-0 start gives IU a lot of energy, but I think Mizzou gets this one (3-1).

The Big Ten schedule opens with Penn State at home.  The Nittany Lions were a surprising team last season.  This season will be even tougher for PSU.  Here comes the first big win of 2013 for Indiana.  The Hoosiers beat Penn State for the first time (4-1).

The next two weekends the Hoosiers will spend in Michigan.  First up is Michigan St.  This game is always a tough one for IU.  They play for the Old Brass Spitoon and this time it stays in East Lansing (4-2).  A trip to Michigan comes the following week.  Indiana has not beaten Michigan since I was in pre-school in 1987.  It doesn’t change this year (4-3).

After a bye week comes the biggest two week stretch of the conference season.  Homecoming sees Minnesota at Memorial Stadium.  The Gophers have improved and find themselves in a similar position as IU.  This is very much a swing game for both squads.  Indiana has been very good of late on Homecoming and they find a way to get a win here (5-3).  Illinois comes to town the next week.  The Illini really struggled last year.  The Hoosiers won in Champaign last season and will continue their win streak in this border war (6-3, yes I know but at least I’m explaining how I got to this point).

The toughest two game road trip is up next.  Wisconsin and Ohio State have owned the Hoosiers.  I don’t see that changing.  Even with a new coach, Wisconsin will line up that huge offensive line and run all over Indiana.  Urban Meyer has a ton of talent in Columbus and should have an even better team than his 12-0 squad last year.  These are both losses (6-5).

The Old Oaken Bucket game closes the season as always.  Purdue will come to The Rock on Thanksgiving weekend.  Under new coach Darrell Hazell there are a lot of changes in West Lafayette.  It will be similar to Coach Wilson’s first year in Bloomington.  Changing the way things are done in the program and cleaning up attitudes and work ethics.  IU will get the Bucket back this year.  Wilson gets his first win in the rivalry and in doing so puts IU into a bowl game with a 7-5 record.

It is only May and things can change, but after this I believe all Hoosier football fans will be clearing their calendars for a late December bowl game.  IU will use everything that comes along with a bowl trip to continue progressing the program.  This team is definitely on the upswing.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

5 Keys to the Elite Eight

Indiana vs. Syracuse

As the NCAA Tournament reaches its second weekend, teams know they are just two victories away from the biggest stage in the game.  Indiana looks to go at least one step further than they did last season, when they lost to eventual champ Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, and make it to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2002.  The East region’s #1 seeded Hoosiers will travel to Washington, D.C. to play the fourth seed Syracuse Orange on Thursday.  Here are my top five keys to the game.

1.  Defense (Part 1)

The defensive end of the court will be the biggest factor for both teams in this game.  For IU, if they are able to contain Syracuse the way they did Temple they will put themselves in great position.  Temple scored only 52 points, shooting just 33.9% from the field and a dismal 12.5% from beyond the arc.  Yes, Khalif Wyatt went off for 31 points but the Owls only had three other players score and only one other player in double figures.  Syracuse is a team that can catch fire from the outside, but if Indiana can defend the three-point line that will bode well for them.  Particularly keeping James Southerland under control.

2.  Defense (Part 2)

Syracuse has be known for years for their 2-3 zone.  Jim Boeheim does an unbelievable job of recruiting guys that fit his style perfectly.  The Orange’s athleticism and length makes it difficult to penetrate the zone or to just simply shoot over the top of it.  IU will need to find gaps for Cody Zeller and Christian Watford to score inside.  That could loosen the zone up enough for the Hoosier shooters to find open looks.  Zeller in particular will be looked upon to use his versatility in the high post as well as on the block to make shots and rebound.

3.  C. J. Fair

C. J. Fair is Syracuse’s 6’8″ power forward who is their leading scorer and rebounder.  Fair is averaging 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season.  His production will be essential for Syracuse on both ends.  Offensively he will be asked not only to score but to put pressure on Cody Zeller.  This goes both ways but if Fair is able to make Zeller work defensively that could slow him from getting out and running.  Fair will also be the key defensively as he will have to step up on Zeller at the high post, but needs to protect the basket in the zone as well.

4.  Rebounding

These teams both rank in the top 25 in total rebounds per game.  Syracuse averages 38.7 boards while Indiana averages 38.6, which is good for 20th and 24th respectively.  The reason this is important is that the Orange average 14.3 offensive rebounds per game.  IU allowed an undersized Temple team to grab eleven offensive rebounds.  Syracuse does not shoot a high percentage (44%) but will look to mitigate that with second chance scoring.  It will be imperative that the Hoosiers close out defensive possessions with rebounds which could lead to offensive opportunities before the Syracuse zone gets set.

5.  Shooting

This may seem like a trite statement, but the way IU shoots the ball on Thursday might be the most telling attribute for this game’s outcome.  IU on the season shoots 48.6% from the field and 40.8% from behind the three-point line.  Making shots against the Syracuse 2-3 zone will put pressure on their players to get out on shooters which could shift the zone and open up interior passing and scoring lanes.  The Hoosiers only shot 42.2% in a slowed down game against Temple.  If they are able to knock shots in at a higher rate pushing the score up, that will make it tough for Syracuse to keep pace.  IU is the third highest scoring team in the nation at 80.0 ppg, while the Orange has had some issues scoring lately.  Getting the game at a quicker speed and forcing Syracuse to score will give the advantage to Indiana.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

The NCAA Tournament is here.  Get yourself prepared for the first weekend of games with my analysis of the four Indiana teams in the field.  IU, Butler, Notre Dame, and Valparaiso each have differing situations but some deep run opportunities are there.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Rise and Fire

Indiana vs. Purdue Preview

In preparation for the IU-Purdue showdown on Wednesday, I spoke with Greg Rakestraw of HTSN and 1070thefan.com.  Greg and I look at how both teams are playing now and the keys to getting a win Wednesday at Mackey Arena.  Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.  Follow Greg @gregrakestraw.

Inside the Man Room

We’re back!!!  After a short time off due to the holidays and the birth of Graham, the Coach and I are back in the Man Room talking basketball.  We had a ton of college basketball action to catch up on.  Indiana and Butler are both in the top 10 plus other teams playing well.  Listen and get ready for the weekly podcasts once again.  Follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer, @C_K_42, and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Statewide Round Ball Round Up

Just as we did last year at the start of each month we will run through the Division I college basketball programs in the state to get you caught up on where every program is.  This month I waited an extra week as this completes the first full month of games.  So lets get started.


The Hoosiers are ranked #1 in the nation and through their first nine games have shown no reason why they shouldn’t be.  IU has won all nine games this year by an average of 31.7 ppg.  The schedule has not been loaded with top notch competition but in the three games so far against BCS conference teams Indiana has handled all of them with double-digit victories.

Indiana has showcased numerous offensive weapons as they have five players averaging double figures.  The Hoosiers lead the country in scoring with 89.1 points per game.  Cody Zeller, the preseason National Player of the Year, leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 15.4 ppg and 8.9 rpg.  IU has one more game against a solid opponent left before entering conference play as they will take on Butler next Saturday in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is the only other ranked team in the state coming in at #22 right now.  They have rolled through the first month of the season with a record of 8-1.  Their signature win thus far is a home victory over then #8 Kentucky 64-50.  The Irish dominated that contest and showed that Coach Brey’s squad has the tools to compete with top competition.  The question that still exist for them however is if they are just a home team or if they are able to play the same way on the road.

ND is lead this year by the same guy that lead them last year- Jack Cooley.  Cooley is averaging a double-double with 14.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.  They have also shown a balanced offense having three other players scoring in double figures (Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins, and Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman).  For Coach Brey however this may finally be the team that can some noise in March.  The Irish’s next game is against Purdue in the Crossroads Classic.


Butler has been a little under the radar to this point even though they are 7-2 with several good wins.  Butler showed what they are capable of at the Maui Invitational.  The Bulldogs beat Marquette on a last second Rotnei Clarke trey and pounded North Carolina on their way to the title game.  There they lost to still undefeated Illinois.  

The improvement this year has come from the additions of Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham who give the Bulldogs the outside shooting they missed last year.  Clarke (17.3 ppg) and Dunham (11.0 ppg) have allowed the offense better spacing opening the post and driving lanes for Andrew Smith, Khyle Marshall, and Roosevelt Jones.  Butler has played a tough schedule so far to get prepared for their new conference the Atlantic 10.  The Dawgs will get their biggest test next Saturday against #1 Indiana.  This will be a good game for both teams as it will be an offense versus defense battle.  Butler’s defense has been very good and very physical while as we talked about before IU leads the nation in scoring.


Matt Painter has a young team this season and they have started off slow.  The Boilers are just 4-5 and coming off a very disappointing loss at Eastern Michigan.  They lost that game 47-44 shooting a dismal 29.8% from the field.  Purdue has been very up and down as you may expect from a young team.  They have looked good in a few games (Clemson and UNC-Wilmington) while really struggling in others (Bucknell, Oregon St., and Eastern Michigan).

The biggest bright spot for Purdue is their work on the boards.  They have out rebounded every opponent this year and rank eighth nationally with 44.2 rebounds per game.  Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons have been their most consistent scorers.  Johnson is only Boiler averaging double figures at 13 a game.  Hammons as a freshman is becoming a reliable post presence.  He is putting in 9.3 points a game and six rebounds.  Purdue only has three games remaining before the conference schedule hits so they have limited time to get it straightened out before going against the top league in the country.

Indiana State

The Sycamores are in a similar situation as Purdue in that they have a young squad.  Coach Greg Lansing is relying heavily on Jake Odum to steer his ship.  Just as the Boilers, they have had their ups and downs early on.  After dropping their opener at UCLA, the Trees won four straight games.  They have dropped their last two however which were a tough overtime home loss to #25 New Mexico and yesterday on the road at Morehead State.

Sitting at 4-3 right now the Sycamores are starting to gear up for Missouri Valley Conference play.  ”The Mayor” Jake Odum leads the team in scoring 15.1, assists 4.4, and steals 1.6.  They will rely on him all season to put them in positions to win.  Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop has been a nice addition as well even as he is learning to fit in.  Arop is putting in 10.9 points and pulling down 6.4 rebounds a game.  Moving forward in the MVC they will also need freshman Khristian Smith (from Pike High School in Indianapolis) to continue to improve as he is starting to score more consistently at 9.4 ppg.


The Jaguars have had a rough start to the season.  Not only in the win-loss column but also on the health front.  The Jags have started off 3-8, but have not been able to put consistent line ups on the court.  Yesterday in their game at Western Kentucky, IUPUI made the trip with only eight scholarship players able to play.

The largest bright spot and possibly surprise has been Mitchell Patton.  Patton is second on the team scoring 14.6 points and rebounding 5.7.  He is struggling with a lower leg injury right now, but the improvement he has made from his freshman year to now has been impressive.  Purdue transfer John Hart leads the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg.  For the Jags right now the biggest thing is getting healthy.  It is going to be tough but in a one bid league they need to focus on getting back on track and peaking at the right time for the conference tournament.

Ball State

Billy Taylor’s team is off to a 4-4 start, but the Cardinals are still trying to find their offensive rhythm.  They are only scoring 62.4 points per game.  Finding buckets consistently has been a major issue for the Cards.  Majok Majok has been a big contributor so far.  He is averaging a double-double at this point with 13.1 points and 10.9 rebounds.  The Cards are going to have to work inside out a little more to open opportunities for Jesse Berry and Jauwan Scaife.  They have four games remaining before MAC play begins with a major test coming against Purdue on December 18.  The Cards dropped their other big match ups this year against IU and Butler.  A win against Purdue to boost their momentum into the conference.


The Purple Aces have been playing some good basketball even with an injury to star Colt Ryan.  The Aces are 5-4 but have lost tough road games to Notre Dame and Colorado State.  They also dropped a home contest to very good and underrated Murray State.  Once completely healthy the Aces should be a player in the MVC this year.

Stud freshman D.J. Balentine is leading the team in scoring (12.1 ppg).  Balentine was an Indiana All-Star last year and after a slow start has really taken off.  With Colt Ryan (second on the team with 11.6 ppg) back, UE looks to get back on track.  We will learn a lot about where they are at the final week of December as they will play at Butler the 22nd and at #16 Creighton the 29th.


The Crusaders are off to a solid start at 6-3.  Bryce Drew has his team playing well even in their three losses.  Losing at two NCAA tournament teams from last season in Saint Louis and New Mexico.  Drew always lays out a non-conference schedule that is challenging for his team and gets them ready for the Horizon League.

Valpo returned their top two scorers from last year in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk.  So far this season they have not disappointed.  Broekhoff is averaging 17.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg and will be a candidate for Horizon League Player of the Year.  Van Wijk is a big key for the Crusaders.  If he can stay out of foul trouble, Valpo has a solid team and will be able to win a lot of ball games.  The Crusaders should be challenging at the top of a very competitive Horizon League.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Old Oaken Bucket Game

Anytime Indiana and Purdue get together it is a big deal.  Doesn’t matter what sport or what the team’s records are this game means a lot.  Saturday will mark the 115th time IU and PU have met on the gridiron.  This game has several story lines for both squads just as last year did.


Purdue will be in the same situation they were last season- needing a win to become bowl eligible.  The Boilers are 5-6 overall, but just 2-5 in the conference.  There are a few differences in the scenario however.  No matter what the outcome of the bucket game is and possible bowl game Danny Hope will not be returning to West Lafayette.  After several mediocre seasons, dropping attendance, and not living up to expectations this season there is a swelling movement for Athletic Director Morgan Burke to find a replacement for Coach Hope.

The other difference is the failure to keep the program progressing upward.  This season started with a lot of promise for the Boilermakers.  They had a lot of experienced players back from their bowl bound team last year.  Their defense has three guys that should be on NFL rosters next season- Ricardo Allen, Kawaan Short, and Bruce Gaston.  The quarterback position had four guys available who all had started games.  However this season through eleven games has been a disappointment.  In a division that was up for grabs, Purdue needs a win to avoid finishing next to last.


Indiana comes into this game unable to reach a bowl game, but that does not mean this season has been a down year.  The Hoosiers at 4-7, 2-5 have shown a lot of improvement in coach Kevin Wilson’s second year.  No they are not yet to where Coach Wilson, the university, or the fan base wants the program to be, but four wins is a much better mark than their 1-11 posting last season.  IU did win two Big Ten games in the same season for the first time since 2007.  The Hoosiers were also very competitive in several conference games this season and let two non-conference games get away from them.

This game still holds a lot for Indiana.  Indiana has a chance to win the Bucket for the second time in three years and three out of six.  They can keep Purdue from going to their second straight bowl game.  More importantly than that for the bigger picture another IU win shows the continued progress under Coach Wilson and can help keep the recruiting momentum going.  The Hoosiers are in the mix with several highly touted recruits that could be big difference makers for the program.  The key to those recruits are that most of them are in-state prospects.  That advantage could be a big factor in a turnaround.

Saturday will hold a lot of importance in the future of both programs.  These teams seem to be headed in different directions, but this game can sway the momentum.  Purdue is looking for their third straight win and possibly four if they can get to a bowl game.  Indiana is trying to get to three conference wins for the first time in five years.  On Saturday, things will be sorted out on the field but the outcome will be a factor for the future.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Can Hoosiers Keep Improbable Run Alive?

Tomorrow Indiana takes on Wisconsin at The Rock in the most important game for IU football since the 2007 Old Oaken Bucket game.  Indiana has won two straight conference games for the first time since 2007 and have pushed their way into relevance in a very weak Big Ten.  The Hoosiers are now 4-5 overall and just 2-3 in the conference, but somehow control their own way to the Rose Bowl.  Yes, that Rose Bowl that is played every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.  Let us now pause while that soaks in for a second.

Indiana has shown many signs of improvement this year with no area more important than the win column.  This is a program that won a single game last season.  Now in the craziest of circumstances they could weasel their way into the Big Ten Championship game and compete for a title.  Ohio State and Penn State are helping the Hoosiers out as both of them hold better records but neither are eligible to play in B1G Championship game due to being on probation.  Plus the fact that this is the weakest the conference has been in quite a while.  But that is the situation and IU should not feel sorry for being the one to take advantage of it.

All of this seems far fetched for a program that just a few weeks ago looked like its same old self.  This is a team that lost its third consecutive game to Ball State.  A team that blew a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter to Navy.  A team that let Michigan State come from behind on homecoming to beat them late.  The Hoosiers needed to start small.  They needed to win a game.

That finally happened when they won at Illinois.  Then they followed that up with a win at home against Iowa (first home conference win since 2009).  Now comes the Wisconsin Badgers to Bloomington and along with them some real excitement surrounding an IU football game in November.  IU has an opportunity to stake claim that they actually belong in the Big Ten football discussion- at least this year.  A win against Wisconsin puts them in the driver’s seat with just two games remaining.  It also begins real dreams of playing in the postseason. 

The team with little fan fare and no preseason hype has this match up to see if their Cinderella slipper still fits.  An unthinkable feat that has been driven by a high scoring offense and a defense that has started to make a few winning plays with games on the line.  An unbelievable turnaround for a gravel voiced coach that has stressed winning every day.  Yes, this is improbable but why not.  I mean that is why they play games.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.