Each year Indiana and Purdue do battle on the gridiron in a football rivalry that dates back to the 19th century. 1891 to be precise.
Today we will take the opportunity to look back at the series, the origin of the Old Oaken Bucket, and some of IU’s most memorable wins.
Purdue has a significant lead in the 124 game all-time series, but things have been much more competitive over the last decade, with IU winning six of the last 12 meetings. Indiana’s longest winning streak in the series came in the last decade, a four game run from 2013 to 2016.
It wasn’t until 1925 that the schools began competing for the Old Oaken Bucket. The standard and most widely quoted historical accounts on the origins of the Bucket claim it was taken from a farm between Kent and Hanover, Indiana that was owned by a family named Bruner.
The bucket was unveiled at halftime on November 21, 1925, with “I” or “P” links made of brass added to the bucket each year depending on which team won the game. The plan had to be modified after the first game, as it ended in a 0-0 tie. In response, an “IP” link was created to reflect the tie. It is this very first game tie link that hangs from the handle of the bucket today.
All of the other links branch out from the original, and each is engraved with the date and score of the game.
A look at some of IU’s more memorable wins
1910: IU recorded its fifth shutout of the year with a 15-0 win on the road in West Lafayette. The win capped off their 6-1 season and IU didn’t allow a touchdown for the entire campaign.
1930: Indiana claimed sole possession of the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time ever as quarterback Gene Opaski completed a second half pass in the end zone to Vic Dauer for a 7-6 win. The IU yearbook, The Arbutus, described the celebration after the game: “All Bloomington enjoys the celebration…bonfires on all corners of the square…crowds at the Monon station welcome the victorious Hoosiers.”
1945: IU came into this game undefeated, and with a victory over Purdue, the Hoosiers would win their first Big Ten Conference title. Purdue entered the game 6-3. IU dominated the second half in Bloomington, scoring twice in the third quarter to lead 13-0. In the fourth quarter IU added two more touchdowns on passes by IU quarterback Ben Raimondi. The Hoosier defense held the Purdue passing game to one completion for negative yardage. Final score: Indiana 26, Purdue 0.
1962: The Bucket finally returned to Bloomington after 14 years. Two touchdown underdog Indiana’s defense led the way. All-Big Ten defensive back Marv Woodson intercepted a Purdue pass at the IU seven yard line and he returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. IU won it 12-7 at Purdue.
1967: Indiana and No. 3 Purdue met with the Rose Bowl on the line. IU ran out to a 19-7 first half lead in Bloomington and then held on to pull it out 19-14. In the last two minutes of the game Purdue mounted one last drive, but it stalled on IU’s 22 yard line. Final score IU 19, Purdue 14. Indiana would go on to face O.J. Simpson and USC in Pasadena.
1988: The Hoosiers entered the game at Ross-Ade Stadium as 17 point favorites. At the half IU lead 31-7. The Hoosiers continued to add points in the second half, while the IU defense continued to hold Purdue’s offense in check. Final score IU 52, Purdue 7. It was the Hoosier’s largest margin of victory in any Bucket game.
1991: Indiana needed a win to go bowling and the Hoosiers jumped out to a 24-6 lead before a furious Purdue comeback, capped off by a game-winning 34-yard field goal attempt. Bill Mallory called consecutive timeouts to ice the kicker, and it worked. IU won it 24-22 in Bloomington.
2007: The Bucket Game had added significance for IU this year as the Hoosiers played to fulfill the promise by former IU coach Terry Hoeppner to “Play 13”. Hoeppner died of complications from brain cancer prior to the 2007 season. Bill Lynch took over as coach, and with James Hardy and Kellen Lewis leading a high-powered offense, the Hoosiers needed a win against Purdue to snap a 14-year bowl-less drought. IU place kicker Austin Starr lined up for a 49 yard field goal with only 30 seconds remaining in the game. His kick sailed between the uprights. Final score: IU 27, Purdue 24.
2014: Zander Diamont scored the last-minute, game-winning touchdown and then was the subject of one of the more memorable post-game photos snapped in the series. His picture with the Old Oaken Bucket and a cigar between his teeth endeared Diamont to Hoosier fans everywhere.
2019: Indiana needed double overtime to claim a 44-41 win over Purdue as quarterback Peyton Ramsey ran it in from one yard out to seal the win and give IU its first eight victory campaign since 1993.