As we count down to Indiana’s 2019 opening game against Ball State on August 31, The Daily Hoosier is looking back at the top ten football seasons in the program’s history.
Narrowing down Bill Mallory’s seasons to include on this list wasn’t easy.
The 1991 season is the first of three campaigns led by the program’s all-time winningest coach that appear in the top ten. It made the cut over the 1993 season for one reason — the non conference schedule.
Indiana’s current challenging Big Ten East schedule today had nothing on 1991.
That year Indiana played a power five opponent every single week of the season, including a December 31 appearance in the Copper Bowl against Baylor.
Many teams stack the non-conference schedule with mid-majors to help ensure bowl eligibility. Latter IU teams have followed that approach.
In 1991, IU opened the season in South Bend against Notre Dame, and then hosted Kentucky after a bye week before traveling to Missouri in week four. That’s a non-conference schedule that literally nobody plays today.
Indiana survived that gauntlet with a 1-1-1 mark and then went on to play eight straight Big Ten games, including road games against three top 20 teams in Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State.
Although IU had several major road tests, the season was made at home. IU finished a perfect 5-0 at Memorial Stadium and added a sixth win at Wisconsin to finish the regular season at 6-4-1. Although that record doesn’t blow you away, Indiana was competitive in all four of their road losses, all against ranked teams, including finishing the game within one score of both Michigan and Ohio State.
The 1991 Hoosiers were special because they were good on both sides of the ball. IU was top 40 nationally in both scoring offense and defense.
IU held 5 of their 12 opponents to 10 points or less, including two shutouts against Michigan State and Baylor.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Trent Green set IU season records for passing and total offense. He would go on to a 15 year NFL career.
First team All-American running back Vaughn Dunbar set the program’s all-time single season rushing record with 1,805 yards. That is a mark that stood until 2014 when Tevin Coleman posted a 2,036 yard season. Dunbar would end up being a first round selection in the NFL Draft before a knee injury disrupted his career.
IU finished the season with that 24-0 shutout win over Baylor in Tucson, Arizona to cap off the year with a 7-4-1 record.
As of this writing, that was the last bowl win for the program. Current defensive line coach Mark Hagen was the defensive MVP of the Copper Bowl.
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