Hoosiers learning to handle success

WR Kofi Hughes

The Indiana football team earned its first-ever win against Penn State on Saturday. Now, the Hoosiers must learn to build on it.

Indiana has always been defined as a basketball school. The football program simply doesn't have the same rich history.

So when the Hoosiers' football team has had success in the past, it has struggled to handle to positive attention that comes with it. The winning standard hasn't necessarily been established within the football program. Winning isn't expected like it is some other places, as wide receiver Kofi Hughes explains.

"We're a really young team, still," Hughes said. "It's hard to be on a campus where you're not used to getting any attention at all. So as soon as you get a win, you got a lot of guys that do want to pat you on the back, like, 'Hey, good job.'

"You've got kids coming up to you on campus or professors saying, 'Hey, good job' that have never talked to you before. It's kind of hard as a human to not pay attention to all that. It's a big distraction. But it's all part of the process of becoming a productive program."

The Hoosiers (3-2, 1-0) have had some bright moments over the last several years. When they beat Iowa last season, they entered the Rose Bowl race in earnest. Beat Wisconsin, and they had a shot. But it didn't happen.

The Hoosiers beat Bowling Green this season and followed it up with a disappointing loss to Missouri. Success hasn't necessarily been the issue for Indiana. Sustaining that success has been.

"This past weekend was a huge step for our team," Hughes said of beating Penn State for the first time in school history. "It really proved to a lot of guys that we are good. We know that we've put in the work and that we've put our team in a great position to have a great team this year, but I think that this past weekend was the first physical sign that, 'Hey, we can really do something here.' Hopefully that's going to make everybody more hungry and not just excited that we beat Penn State."

That becomes the true challenge for this team: Can it learn to expect to win? Can beating a team like Penn State become commonplace and not send any shockwaves through the program? Can the Hoosiers be consistent?

We'll get some answers to those questions over the next two weeks. Indiana has road challenges against Michigan State and Michigan, and both are winnable games. Neither team is dominant.

But these are the types of games Indiana has typically lost in the past. Can it change that this season? We'll find out soon.

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