IU offensive coordinator Walt Bell has said one of the first systems he studied was Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense at Kentucky.
Bell was only 13 when Mumme coached against IU for the first time in Bloomington in 1997, so if he was watching on that fateful September afternoon, he was no doubt left in awe.
Indiana fans were left in shock.
The game ended up being a three-hour clinic for the Air Raid.
Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch broke a school record with seven touchdown passes — four to Craig Yeast — as the Wildcats kept the ‘Bourbon Barrel’ with a 49-7 annihilation of the Hoosiers. Couch was 24-of-32 for 394 yards.
IU actually drove inside the Kentucky 25 on its first two drives, but threw an interception, and were stopped on fourth down to come up empty on both. The Hoosiers got inside the UK 25 a third time in the first half, but were again stopped on fourth down.
And the rout was on.
Indiana scored late to avoid its worst shutout in 40 years, a feat they’d fail to avoid a few weeks later at Iowa. 1997 was a forgettable 2-9 season for the Hoosiers, and the Kentucky game that year featured a forgettable attempt to change IU’s look.
While the Kentucky game helped propel the Air Raid revolution, it wasn’t the beginning of a new era of Indiana uniform colors.
New head coach Cam Cameron had a new tradition in mind when he had his team wear black jerseys against UK for the week three contest. But the complete domination by Kentucky relegated the idea of black uniforms to the ash heap of history.
Cameron played both football and basketball at IU, and legend has it Bob Knight let Cameron know the black uniforms had no place at Indiana.
But they’re making a comeback on Saturday when IU hosts Akron for a night game that will feature the Hoosiers wearing both blacks jerseys and pants this time.
Beyond the black attire, there are other connections to that game.
Mumme student Walt Bell will be calling plays from the IU press box. Indiana quarterback Tayven Jackson and his brother Trayce went to the same high school as Craig Yeast’s son Russ.
We’ll see if it takes another 26 years for the Hoosiers to be back in black.
Kentucky vs Indiana (1997) pic.twitter.com/zBr19kQxaa
— College Football Classics (@ClassicsCFB) July 28, 2023
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