To keep magical ride rolling, Indiana has to win where it rarely has — starting Saturday at Michigan State
If Indiana is to continue its sudden upswing in football, it’ll need to continue to break some trends.
Call it a “Revenge Tour,” of sorts. The Hoosiers have had long droughts against too many in the Big Ten, particularly those powerhouse programs frequently at the top of the conference. But already, the Hoosiers, undefeated at 3-0 and up to No. 10 in the country, have proven they’re capable of knocking off the elites this season.
When IU beat Penn State on opening weekend, it marked only the Hoosiers’ second victory ever in the series, against 22 losses. The first win came in 2013, when the Nittany Lions were reeling from sanctions.
Two weeks after stunning the Lions in OT, the Hoosiers nuked Michigan, marking the first time Indiana has ever beaten the Nittany Lions and the Wolverines in the same season. It was Indiana’s first win against UM since 1987, its second since 1967 and only its 10th in a 69-game series that dates to 1900.
The Hoosiers have already gained the Big Ten’s — and the country’s — attention and respect, and now they want to prove that they are at the top to stay. To do so will require more revenge wins. Let’s take a look at what that means for the rest of the schedule.
at Michigan State
The Hoosiers are a 7-point favorite for Saturday’s noon kickoff at Michigan State, an atypical position for IU in a series it trails 16-48-2 all-time. Indiana has only beaten the Spartans twice since 2001, and both were in the comfy atmosphere of Memorial Stadium. You’ve got to go back to 2001 to find the Hoosiers’ last win in East Lansing, when IU, as the heavy underdog, beat No. 22 MSU 37-28. It was part of a five-game stretch in which the Hoosiers won four, finishing the year with a Sept. 11-delayed win over Kentucky. IU’s previous win at Michigan State came in 1986.
at Ohio State
In 1990, Indiana tied a game against Ohio State, but that’s been the most “success” the Hoosiers have had against the Buckeyes in the last three decades. Ohio State leads the series 76-12-5, with wins in 25 consecutive contests. The Hoosiers did have a brief moment of success in the late 80s, winning twice in a row, including once in Columbus, in 1987 and ’88, before a 4-point road loss and the 27-all tie in 1990. But previous to that stretch, it was way back in 1951 that the Hoosiers picked up a W. Needless to say, the Hoosiers will be working not only against the current Buckeyes, but against history too, if they are to score an upset. But heck, Indiana has already slayed a couple dragons this season, why not one more?
The history between Indiana and Big Ten newcomer Maryland is much shorter, and the Hoosiers have had the positive end more often than not. Indiana is 6-2 vs. the Terrapins, including 4-2 since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014. The Hoosiers are 2-1 vs. the Terps at home since ’14, including a couple wins in a row. But they’ve been close: A 2-point win in 2018, which came on a field goal with 2 minutes left, and a 6-point victory in ’16.
Had either one of the previous two versions of the 2020 Indiana schedule played out, the Hoosiers would have already played at Wisconsin. Instead, they’ll do so in the Madison cold in early December. Regardless of when — and where — the game has been played, it’s not gone well for the Hoosiers, who have lost 10 in a row since 2005. But the two teams have not played as much recently — being that Wisconsin is in the West — with this being the first meeting since 2017. The teams didn’t play in 2014-16 either. But add up the last five meetings since 2010 and … well, it’s been hideously ugly. The combined score is 300-61, an average score of 60-12.
After being on the losing end of the Old Oaken Bucket rivalry for much of Joe Tiller’s tenure in West Lafayette, the Hoosiers have responded recently to get the overall series to 42-74-6. IU has won 5 of the last 7 meetings against their in-state crossover foe, including a double-overtime Ross-Ade Stadium thriller last season. The game will be back in Memorial this year, where Indiana had won three in a row before a 28-21 loss in 2018. This year’s game might come with much more significance than is typical, considering both Indiana and Purdue are undefeated through the first three weeks of the season.