Since losing its opener, Indiana State has won four straight games and, according to Coach Dennis Raetz, has done everything right and had every possible break.
But Raetz doesn't expect his Sycamores, who burst upon the national sports scene several years ago because of basketball player Larry Bird, to pull off any miracles Saturday against Maryland at College Park.
"Sure, we're playing very well right now, but the Missouri Valley is hardly the ACC," Raetz said, "and Maryland is without question the best team we'll play this year. We were dropped from Division I-A to AA this year but we're still playing half our schedule against bigger schools. We scheduled Maryland this year, Florida next year and LSU the year after. I just want to see how we'll stack up."
Raetz's main concern is Maryland's size and depth. Also, the Terps (2-2) have allowed an average of only 47 yards per game rushing (third in the nation) and given up one touchdown on the ground.
In defeating such teams as McNeese State (13-10), Ball State (17-0) and, last week, Drake (29-19), ISU was able to run the football consistently. Perhaps thinking that it would be futile to run the ball against Maryland, Raetz let sophomore quarterback Jeff Miller throw last week. Miller threw 27 times, completing 20. In the previous four games, Miller, who Raetz says is not "very fast or very pretty (throwing the ball)," had thrown only 29 passes.
"The first week, we couldn't complete a pass to a wide-open man," Raetz said. "Now we're throwing the ball much better . . . "
Indiana State's top rushing threat is Eric Robinson, a former all-met tailback from Kennedy High School. Robinson, a 5-foot-8, 184-pound senior, has rushed for 372 yards and scored three touchdowns but has been hampered by strained knee ligaments. He is expected to play.
"We not only have to worry about Maryland's defense, but their offense is wide open and getting better each week," Raetz said. "We can only go out and play the best we're capable of. If they pound it down (our throats), so be it. We just don't want to give it away."