BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The Hoosiers aren't complaining about college football's quirky schedule this season. They used a second bye week to their advantage, and the timing couldn't have been better.
After losing two straight games, the Hoosiers (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) are counting on extra preparation time to start a season-ending surge that will allow them to grab a rare bowl bid and avoid the kind of finish they had last season.
"It was a good open week," coach Kevin Wilson said. "We had a lot of things I thought we needed to work on. We had a chance to look at getting some guys well and bringing some of our young players along. Five-game stretch, three at home, you want to have some energy."
In 2012, Indiana had just one bye week in mid-September. The Hoosiers lost the final three games after a 4-5 start put them in position to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007. Defensive lineman Bobby Richardson believes an additional week off in late October will help the team avoid another fade.
"It gave us a chance to get our legs back, get our arms back," Richardson said. "Rest up. That was a week we weren't as physical. We were getting more focused and watching film to prepare."
The defense focused on stopping the run, a major issue so far as the Hoosiers have allowed a league-worst 221 yards rushing a game. Running backs Jeremy Langford of Michigan State and Fitzgerald Toussaint of Michigan enjoyed career days against the Hoosiers, and the schedule presents more challenges.
The Hoosiers open a two-game home stand Saturday against Minnesota, a team that averages nearly 5 yards per carry, and then face Illinois. Indiana follows that up by traveling to No. 22 Wisconsin and its dynamic duo of Melvin Gordon and James White. Then the Hoosiers visit No. 4 Ohio State and attempt to slow down Carlos Hyde.