BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana's turnaround tour is off to a perfect start.
The Hoosiers have already won more games this year than last, and coach Kevin Wilson finally has a win over a Football Bowl Subdivision foe. The next scheduled stop comes Saturday night against Ball State, a team that handed Indiana its most demoralizing loss last season.
"We've talked about it a lot this week," said cornerback Greg Heban, who grew up near the Ball State campus in Muncie, Ind. "They came out and got the best of us last year. This year, we've got to come out and play our game."
Indiana (2-0) learned its lesson the hard way.
In the first major college game ever played at Lucas Oil Stadium, nearly 40,000 fans showed up for the coaching debuts of Wilson and Pete Lembo.
At first, it looked like the Hoosiers would run away with the game, as expected, but the Cardinals survived Indiana's early onslaught, steadied themselves, took control of the game and rallied for a 27-20 upset. The stunning victory set off a wild celebration and gave Ball State a huge confidence boost.
It wasn't just the players who were exuberant. A few days later, Lembo received an email from a retired superintendent who called it the school's biggest win since he graduated from Ball State.
"Internally, it solidified everything that we were doing was the way to go, so to speak. Any guys that had any doubts about drinking the Kool-Aid or whatever, I think those doubts were eliminated with that victory," Lembo said. "Externally, that was one of the most meaningful events for our administration and alumni that they've ever been a part of."
Lembo and his players are hoping for a similar scene Saturday night in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers have different plans.
Defensive tackle Larry Black Jr. still remembers leaving the field with a "pit in his stomach" and the emptiness that permeated players' psyche.
"We were embarrassed," Black said.
So Black, Heban and the coaching staff have left nothing to chance this time.
The older players have spent much of this week explaining to the newcomers what it would mean to them to avenge last year's loss.
A win would give Indiana it's fourth 3-0 start in 12 years, match its longest winning streak since the turn of the century and give the Hoosiers a shot at their first four-game winning streak since 1993. Plus, it would finally allow Indiana to reclaim the upper hand in a series that has been far closer than most would guess.