Austin Starr spent last Sunday in Harold Mauro’s office, talking with the man who has been a part of every Indiana bowl team. Mauro, the team’s director of football operations, told the junior kicker that he would nail a kick to beat Purdue on Saturday.

Throughout the week, the junior kicker had a dream where he kicked a field goal to beat the Boilermakers. He didn’t remember how long the kick was in the dream, but he always made it.

Saturday’s result didn’t come as a surprise to Starr.

The Logansport native drilled a career-long 49-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining to give Indiana a 27-24 victory, a winning season and a likely bowl bid.

Not bad for a guy who missed a kick earlier in the game.

The normally reliable Starr, who went 19 for 21 this season, missed a 42-yard kick with 9:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. Had he made it, Indiana would have led 27-10.

“If I would’ve made that one, then it wouldn’t have been as dramatic of a finish,” Starr quipped, before pointing out that he faced a similar situation last year at Illinois, where he missed a 33-yard fourth-quarter field goal attempt before making a 33-yarder as time expired.

“That’s what I thought of. I thought, ‘Hmm. Where has this happened before? Oh yeah. Illinois.’ This kick was longer and more meaningful.”

When the Hoosiers took over at their own 24-yard line with 3:33 remaining, Starr readied himself for his chance to win the game — a win he said he had personally guaranteed around campus throughout the week. He said that his holder, Dustin Hass, and long-snapper Tim Bugg did a great job all year and the protection unit was “right on.”

In his characteristic understated style, Indiana coach Bill Lynch said his only thought as Starr lined up was that he wanted to make sure that the line blocked up front, lest Purdue block the kick.

As his knuckling kick flew toward the crossbar, Marcus Thigpen said he thought he looked straight enough, but wondered if it was long enough. Starr had no such doubts, saying he knew he was going to make it.

“Right after I made it, I looked at the sky and thought of [Terry Hoeppner],” Starr said. “I told people we were going to win. There was no way we were going to lose that game. That’s not how the fairy tale story ends.”

Starr did give Lynch heartburn when he sent a high-flying kick on the ensuing kickoff that landed in the hands of Boilermakers standout Dorian Bryant, especially since Lynch had called for a squib kick.

Starr admitted that he did it purposely because he saw that Purdue’s return men were lined up around the 15-yard line and thought he could put it past them. When a reporter commented that he was lucky that Purdue didn’t take the kick back for a touchdown, Starr was quick with a response.

“There was no way they were going to do that,” he said with a grin. “I was back there and I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

Starr made it clear that the win was not about him, but about the memory of the coach that Hoosiers lost in June to complications from brain cancer.

When the students chanted his name as he held the Bucket aloft, he quickly incited them to chant “Terr-y Hoep-pner.” And when the team prepared to add the “I” to the bucket, he told the locker room “This is for Coach Hoep.”

“He’ll always be alive around this program,” Starr said.

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