In Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner's final days, he communicated with his team via e-mail to his assistants.
In each e-mail, he coached until the end, offering words of encouragement and asking players to work hard. He asked his team not to feel sorry for him. And he signed each one "Play 13."
Sixth months after Hoeppner died from complications from a brain tumor, the Hoosiers are fulfilling his final rallying cry. "Play 13" was one of Hoeppner's many slogans during his short tenure at Indiana, a program whose last postseason appearance was 1993.
In Hoeppner's absence, the Hoosiers fulfilled that goal, going 7-5 and earning a bid to Monday's Insight Bowl against Oklahoma State in Tempe, Ariz..
"We think about him each and every day," said wide receiver James Hardy, a Rivals.com second-team All-American who was closer to Hoeppner than any of his teammates. "This was the goal and dream he had for each and every one of us. For it finally to be accomplished, it's a wonderful feeling not only for him and us but his family and the Indiana University alumni and everything."
Indiana playing in a bowl is a rare occurrence, so credit Hoeppner's charisma with reigniting alumni and student support for the football team. And don't think his work is lost on the players.
"We're looking at it as the biggest game of our careers," Hardy said. "We don't want to go down there and be a part of history and lose a game. Everyone has that mind-set that we're going to dominate and bring it back home."
Mike Huguenin's pick: Indiana 33-31.