A deep dive into Indiana's AP history after Hoosiers reach No. 10
With their 3-0 record, including their 38-21 manhandling of then-No. 23 Michigan on Saturday, the Hoosiers moved up to No. 10 in Sunday’s AP Top 25.
It’s a remarkable climb that few outside Bloomington — and, honestly, probably not many in town, either — would have predicted.
IU isn’t a regular in the Top 25, especially of late. When they jumped in at No. 17 in the Oct. 25 poll, it marked the Hoosiers’ first time they’d been so high since 1993.
Let’s take a deep dive into IU’s No. 10 ranking.
The Hoosiers haven’t been as high as No. 10 since the 1969 season, a mere 51 years ago. Under coach John Pont, who had guided the Hoosiers to the Rose Bowl and a No. 4 final ranking two seasons prior, IU was highly thought of in the preseason. After ranking No. 14 in the initial poll, the Hoosiers mowed down Kentucky 58-30 and jumped to No. 10 in the Sept. 27 poll. But IU lost to California and dropped out. Then they fell at Colorado the next week, leading to a season that fell below expectations. The Hoosiers went 4-6 and finished in a tie for 5th in the Big Ten.
Streak hits 3
Indiana has been in this season’s Top 25 for 3 consecutive weeks, starting at No. 17, then climbing to 13 and now 10. It’s IU’s longest streak since they were ranked for 7 straight weeks in 1993. Coach Bill Mallory’s Independence Bowl-bound crew started that season 7-1 but only bounced into national recognition after Game 7. IU had played only 1 ranked opponent, a loss to No. 22 Wisconsin, by the time they defeated Northwestern 24-0 in Evanston and moved into the poll at No. 23. A 10-0 win over Michigan State the following week helped the Hoosiers climb to a season-high No. 17. IU didn’t play in Weeks 14 and 15, and after getting toasted by Virginia Tech 45-20 in the bowl game, they were out of the final poll.
Twenty-six years earlier in 1967, the Hoosiers did finish the season ranked, hitting as high as No. 4 and sticking there for the final poll on Nov. 27 after beating No. 3 Purdue 19-14. That ended their regular-season with a 9-1 record. But although Nov. 27 represented the final poll, 1 more game remained on the schedule. On New Year’s Day 1970, Pont’s Hoosiers lost 14-3 to No. 1 USC in the Rose Bowl. It was quite the year, from unranked in the preseason to an 8-0 start, a win over Purdue and an appearance in the Rose Bowl.
The way back machine
You have to dial back to 1945 to find a similar season. The Hoosiers finished undefeated under coach Bo McMillin, with a 9-0-1 record, the only “blemish” being a 7-7 tie at Northwestern in the 2nd week. But the Hoosiers rolled afterward, outscoring their opponents by a combined 259-42. Indiana shut out their last 3 opponents: No. 20 Minnesota, Pittsburgh and No. 18 Purdue. The Hoosiers spent the last 9 weeks of the AP poll in the top 8, wrapping up the year as the 4th-ranked team in the country.
The Hoosiers have had dry spells. Whole decades. The ’70s, for instance. The Hoosiers appeared in the AP Top 25 only once in the decade, sneaking in — sort of — in the very last poll of the 1979 season. Of course, it came on Jan. 3, 1980, following Hoosiers’ 38-37 win over BYU in the Holiday Bowl. Lee Corso’s gang finished the season 8-4 and ranked No. 19. The 1950s were no good, either. The Hoosiers were No. 19 on Oct. 23, 1950, after beating Notre Dame. But IU lost the next week, then had only 1 win in the second half of the season. And the Hoosiers didn’t appear again in the Top 25 until the ’67 Rose Bowl season. In between, IU finished above .500 only once. In all, the Hoosiers have been ranked in 19 of 85 seasons of the AP Poll (22 percent) and in 5 percent of weekly polls all-time (59 of 1,178).
Going for 6
In only 5 previous seasons have the Hoosiers finished the last AP Poll ranked: No. 4 in 1945 and ’67; No. 19 in ’79; and No. 20 in 1946 and ’88. Being No. 10 right now is great, but what the Hoosiers would really like is to be there — or higher — in mid-December.