Each and every year when Indiana and Michigan meet, we are repeatedly reminded of the infamous Hoosier losing streak to the Wolverines. You will surely hear about it in a few weeks when the Hoosiers travel to Ann Arbor. The streak now stands at 31 years, dating back to 1987.
The players on the current IU team weren’t born yet. Not even close. The player’s parents might not have started high school yet. It has been a while.
But it all came together on one magical fall day in Bloomington. Let’s take a quick look back at October 24, 1987, at Memorial Stadium, and scroll down to the bottom to see the highlights with Don Fischer on the call —
On a windy and rainy Saturday afternoon with the fall foliage peaking in Bloomington the Indiana Hoosiers looked to accomplish something they hadn’t done in 20 years — beat the Michigan Wolverines.
The rain wasn’t about to keep the fans home. Indiana was 5-1. It had already defeated Ohio State 31-10 in Columbus in a game Buckeye Coach Earle Bruce said was “The darkest day in Ohio State football since I have been associated with it.”
This 1987 Indiana team was the real deal, and unlike the changing leaves, that is not an annual rite of passage in Bloomington.
Indiana took the lead in the first quarter after a huge special teams play. Bill Reisert got IU’s first blocked punt in five years and the Hoosiers recovered the ball at the Michigan 15 yard line. That set up a Dave Schnell to Ernie Jones 11 yard touchdown pass. 7-0 Hoosiers.
The fans were so enthusiastic that they had a noticeable impact on the game. Yes folks, we are still talking about Indiana football here.
During Michigan’s first significant drive of the game in the second quarter there were delays because of crowd noise. Michigan quarterback Demetrius Brown would line up to call signals and then back away due to the crowd noise.
Can you imagine Memorial Stadium being that raucous? At the time it only seated 51,000 and was open on both ends. Needless to say, the Hoosier fans were at full throat on this brisk fall afternoon.
It was a different era of college football where the officials would attempt to wait for the crowd to quiet down. Finally after substantial delays and consultation by the officials with Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, play ultimately resumed and Michigan scored to tie the game at seven apiece.
This sequence of events only served to intensify the crowd as they felt the delays helped to facilitate the visitors getting into the end zone. Michigan added a second quarter field goal and went into the locker room ahead 10-7. Would it be just another in a long line of losses to the Wolverines?
Indiana started the second half on a mission and had a 14-play, 65-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. Importantly the drive took eight minutes off the clock and ultimately resulted in a Schnell 3-yard TD run. The Hoosiers led the ballgame 14-10, but more than a quarter remained.
Indiana’s defense would bend but not break the rest of the way.
The weather that the Hoosier faithful withstood did its part as well. As the second half wore on, the rain intensified. Moreover, the wind, which had itself grown stronger and aided IU’s big 3rd quarter drive, mysteriously shifted directions in the 4th quarter and stayed at the Hoosier’s backs.
That wind and big plays from the defense in the 4th quarter including two tackles for losses by Joe Huff were enough to seal the deal. 14-10 Indiana. Final. Fans on the field. Goal posts down.
We’ve grown accustomed to IU football doing enough to win and yet finding a way to lose big games.
This day was different. IU had its lowest offensive output of the year with only 190 total yards, while Michigan had 300. Despite the yardage discrepancy, Indiana avoided giving up big plays — something that plagues it today.
Perhaps most significant, IU’s defense held the Wolverines to 88 total yards in the second half, with an assist from Mother Nature.
The Hoosiers went on to an 8-3 regular season and then lost the Peach Bowl to Tennessee in Atlanta. It was Indiana’s best season since the 1967 Rose Bowl team and probably its best since.
Now let Don Fischer take you back to that day as you dream of what is possible with IU football.
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