My look back at the best case-worst case series continues with ... Indiana.
In case you missed it: Indiana's best case-worst case.
Best-case synopsis: Indiana has no trouble replacing the dismissed Kellen Lewis and shows greater depth on both sides of the ball as it returns to a bowl for the second time in three years. ... Junior quarterback Ben Chappell flourishes in the pistol formation, and wide receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher become stars. ... IU faces some challenges on defense, but ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton lead a formidable pass rush and linebacker Matt Mayberry dominates. ... Indiana starts 6-1 with wins against both Michigan and Virginia and reaches the Insight Bowl, where it beats Colorado to finish 9-4.
Worst-case synopsis: The Hoosiers' depth concerns turn out to be true and the offense falls apart in another lost season. ... Chappell struggles as the full-time starting quarterback and spends most games trying to avoid the pass rush. ... Indiana once again has no running game, and the defense shows its warts in the interior line and the secondary. ... After a 2-2 start, Indiana drops its final eight games and the university drops Bill Lynch as head coach. ... Home attendance declines and new athletics director Fred Glass searches for the team's fifth head coach since 2001.
You can't handle the truth: (quotes from the original post) "Lynch's confidence in quarterback Ben Chappell pays off." ... "Heralded recruit Darius Willis blossoms to become the team's featured back. Left tackle Rodger Saffold anchors an improved offensive line, and young wideouts Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss torch opposing secondaries." ... "Indiana survives its opener against Eastern Kentucky." ... "A much improved defense then shuts down Tim Hiller and Western Michigan in Week 2, gaining confidence before a tricky trip to Akron. Indiana improves to 3-0 by zipping through the Zips." ... "Despite a veteran presence on defense, Indiana's holes on the interior line and in the secondary doom the unit."
Lies, lies, lies: "The pistol formation energizes Indiana's rushing attack." ... "The Hoosiers send an early warning shot to new Purdue head coach Danny Hope by thumping Hope's former team, Eastern Kentucky, by 30 points in the opener." ... "A 4-1 Hoosiers team heads to Charlottesville and knocks off a beatable Virginia team, pushing head coach Al Groh further out the door." ... "In the regular-season finale, the Hoosiers avenge their 52-point loss last year at rival Purdue and pound the Boilers 40-10." ... Indiana caps a surprising season by beating Colorado in the Insight Bowl. The Hoosiers win nine games for the first time since 1967." ... "With a 2-10 mark, Lynch's fate is sealed."
Reality check: Indiana's 4-8 record seems fairly close to the worst-case scenario, but the team showed obvious improvement for much of the season. Chappell certainly validated himself as a legit Big Ten quarterback, while Doss will 2010 as one of the league's best wide receivers after a great year this fall. Yet once again, Indiana couldn't get over the hump in winnable games against Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin. The defense received strong performances from several individuals but once again struggled as a unit, raising some concerns for 2010. Glass made the right call in giving Lynch one more year, but next fall will be pivotal for the program.