Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
As we are set to celebrate the birth of our Nation by setting off fireworks and other explosives, we at Hoosier Huddle figured now is as good a time as any to go back in time and look at some of the most explosive performances in Hoosier Football history. Now we are only going back into the 1980's in this piece, but there are some tremendous performances that deserve recognition.
1. Levron Williams Reaches Pay Dirt Six Times
Before I get attacked for putting this amazing performance above Anthony Thompson's record setting day, let me make my case. Prior to Tevin Coleman, Levron Williams was the last Hoosier running back to crack the 1,000-yard barrier and his performance against the Wisconsin Badgers maybe the single greatest performance in school history. Williams and the Hoosiers put a 63-32 beat down on the Badgers on Oct. 6th, 2001 again at Camp Randall Stadium. This was a Badger team that finished the year 5-7 which is nothing to write home about, but featured young talent like Brooks Bollinger, Jim Sorgi and Lee Evans, three players who would later make it to the NFL.
The Hoosiers raced out to a 32-0 lead after the first quarter as Williams put on a show rushing for 280 yards on just 20 carries and scored six, yes, six touchdowns. While Anthony Thompson ran for nearly 100 yards more yards than Williams, it took AT 52 carries to do it while Williams just toted the rock just 20 times averaging a mammoth 14.0 yards per carry.
Williams scored on runs of 56, 51, 8, 7, 6, and 3 yards. The six touchdowns for Williams broke Thompson's record of five against Northwestern in 1989.
2. Anthony Thompson Steamrolls Wisconsin
In the recent past when the Hoosiers and Badgers clash it is usually the folks up in Madison celebrating monster performances from a Heisman Trophy candidate running back. But on Nov. 12th, 1989 the Hoosiers' All-American running back Anthony Thompson put on a show that would result in a then NCAA record 377 rushing yards and scored four total touchdowns in a 45-17 demolition of the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.
Thompson knew he was in for a big day after just his first carry saying, "The first play, where I went off tackle between Todd Oberdorf and Ian Beckles--I mean there was a hole you could drive a semi through. I just took off running and I felt it was going to be a great day for me."
His record still stands as the most rushing yards in a single game for a Hoosier player, but was nearly passed in 2014 by Tevin Coleman (who will make an appearance on this list).
3. Thomas Lewis's Record Day at Penn State
So far this list has been dominated by the ground game, now it is time for an aerial performance for the ages. In 1993 the Hoosiers went 8-4 (5-3) and earned a trip to the Independence Bowl, but it was in a 38-31 loss at no. 19 Penn State where a Hoosier receiver broke records.
Thomas Lewis led the Big Ten in receiving yards in 1993 with 1,058 receiving yards. In an early November clash of ranked foes the Hoosiers ranked 17th and the Nittany Lions just a couple spots below at 19 Lewis set a then Big Ten record with 285 yards on 12 catches including a record tying 99-yard touchdown strike. He finished the game with 367 total yards which is still good for second all-time on the school list. His record of 285 yards receiving still stands atop of that list today.
4. Randle El Almost Single Handedly Beats Gophers
Antwaan Randle El is one of the most recognizable and most electric players in Indiana Football history. So what is a list about explosive performances without him?
On Oct. 21, 2000 Randle El put together one of the most dominant performances on the football field this century when he accounted for 473 offensive yards (210 on the ground, 263 through the air) and two touchdowns in a 51-43 shootout victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Randle El finished second on the all-time touchdowns scored list for Indiana behind Anthony Thompson and sits at fifth in total yards.
5. AT Dominates Ohio State with 5 Touchdowns
Did you think Anthony Thompson was going to only make one appearance on this list? Heck, one could make a top 10 of just AT performances.
Yes, young Hoosier fans there was no so long ago where Indiana beat big, bad Ohio State two years in a row. Buckeye fans remember these as the dark days, but Hoosier fans celebrated a historic performance by Thompson in a 41-7 romp by tearing down the goal posts at Memorial Stadium.
Thompson broke loose for a then record four touchdowns and ran for 190 yards as the Hoosiers cruised to victory in a game where IU first used its permanent lighting. The game was telecast on national t.v. as well.
Thompson after the game said "I was amazed, I thought maybe we could have a big win against them, but maybe not like this. I don`t care about any individual records. I`m just looking forward to going to the Rose Bowl. That`s our main goal."
6. James Hardy' 4 TD's Return the Spittoon To B-Town
Indiana had not won the Old Brass Spittoon, you know that trophy IU and Michigan State play for, since 2001. In 2006 the Hoosiers finally had the better team as the combination of Kellen Lewis and James Hardy proved too much for John L. Smith and his Spartans. Smith would later be fired.
Hardy jumped on the scene in Bloomington as a freshman and was hard to miss on the football field at 6-foot-7. On this day, homecoming, Hardy was unrivaled in grabbing 4 scores to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon.
7. Tevin Coleman Wows Ohio Stadium
In an other wise dismal season, the lone Hoosier bright spot was the All-American performance of Hoosier running back Tevin Coleman. There were a ton of games and plays in which you could put on this list, but we are going with his record smashing day against the would-be National Champions.
The Hoosiers' upset bid ultimately fell short, but Tevin Coleman had the Cream and Crimson faithful believing when he took the ball 90 yards, an Ohio Stadium record, to put the Hoosiers up 21-20 midway through the third quarter. It was Coleman's second of three touchdowns and the highlight of his 228 yard performance, he also scored on runs of 2 and 52 yards. His performance also pushed him atop of the mountain in IU history for most rushing yards in a single season.
8. Tandon Doss Does it All Versus Michigan
When ever an individual player accounts for 363 total yards it's a special day. The reason that Doss is at no. 8 and not higher is because somehow he did not find the end zone.
During the '09 and '10 seasons Tandon Doss was Indiana's Mr. Everything. He ran the wildcat, caught passes, returned both kickoffs and punts. He did it all expect play defense.
On Oct. 2 in 2010 the 4-0 Hoosiers welcomed the Michigan Wolverines to a sold out Memorial Stadium. After nearly knocking the Maize and Blue off the year prior in the infamous "Bill Lynch Gum Game" the Hoosiers believed they could and would win this game at home.
Doss was tremendous as he ran the ball six times for 21 yards, caught an IU record 15 passes for 221 yards and returned five kicks and a put for a total of 121 yards.
The game was a classic that came down to the final minute, but the Hoosiers ultimately fell 42-35.
9. Tevin Coleman is Born to Run in New Jersey
A guy this good deserves to be on this list at least twice and what better place to run wild than the home state of Bruce Springsteen. In the 2014 game, Tevin Coleman got close to breaking Anthony Thompson's single-game mark of 377 rushing yards when he gashed the Rutgers defense for 307. Even if the Hoosiers lost the contest 45-23, it was a heroic effort as the eventual third-round pick averaged an astonishing 9.6 yards per carry including a 68 yard touchdown right before half time to put the Hoosiers in front 13-10.
After the game Tevin gave all the credit to his teammates saying, "obviously it's a good thing to have, but I couldn't really do it without my team and without my O-line and without the defense getting the ball back. I give it up all to them. It's a team game, so I'll give it to them."
10. Tre Roberson Torches Purdue in the 2013 Bucket Game
In what would be his last football game at Indiana redshirt sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson led the Hoosiers to a resounding 56-36 victory in the Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue. The first time the Hoosiers had won the Bucket since 2010.
Roberson had a monster day as he completed 25/37 passes for 273 yards and six touchdown passes, while also leading the team in rushing with 154 yards. Purdue had no answers for the talented sophomore. This performance left the Hoosier fans salivating at what could be in 2014 with both Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld returning for their junior seasons, but as we all know it did not turn out that way as Roberson bolted for FCS Illinois State.
Hopefully this list quenches that thirst for college football over this holiday weekend. We also would like to invite Hoosier fans to list their top-10 performances in the comments section.
Additional Explosive Performance Since the Start of the 2015 Season
1. Nate Sudfeld Leads IU to a Bowl with a win Over Purdue
2015 saw plenty of explosive games for the Hoosier offense, but having the day quarterback Nate Sudfeld had against IU's biggest rival, on the road and needing a win to clinch a bowl berth tops the list. On that cold, dreary day in West Lafayette, the senior quarterback completed 18-of-29 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-36 Hoosier victory that would send them to the Pinstripe Bowl. Sudfeld is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles and earned a Super Bowl ring last season.
2. Simmie Cobbs and Nate Sudfeld Burn Maryland
The Hoosiers were 4-6 and staring a 21-3 deficit in the face a little over half way through the first quarter at Maryland when the Hoosiers found their spark and stormed back for a victory. Simmie Cobbs had one of his break out games of the 2015 season as he hauled in nine passes for 192 yards. While he didn't score a touchdown, Cobbs did average over 21 yards per reception. Nate Sudfeld's 385 yards passing and four touchdowns deserve credit as well as the senior QB was firing on all cylinders.
3. Jordan Howard Chews Up Michigan's Top Five Defense
I dislike putting losses on this list, but running back Jordan Howard's performance against Michigan nearly pulled the upset of the season. Michigan came into the game with a nationally touted defense and all the arrogance in the world. However, Howard and the IU offensive line blasted them for 238 rushing yards including a drive in the fourth quarter where Howard and the line plowed over the defense like it was fluffy snow. Despite Howard's efforts the Hoosiers fell to the Wolverines 48-41 in double overtime.
4. Richard Lagow Recuses IU at Rutgers
As inconsistent as Lagow was during the 2016 season, his high points were really high. He does hold the single-game passing yards record for IU with 496 against Wake Forest, but he also threw five interceptions that game. Later in the season, the Hoosiers would ride Lagow's arm to an important road win at Rutgers. In the 33-27 win over the Scarlet Knights, Lagow threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns. Lagow provided the offense with stability after the Hoosiers' gimmicky offense of Zander Diamont and Tyler Natee couldn't get going after Diamont's long touchdown run early in the game.
5. Morgan Ellison Runs Over Rutgers
Running back Morgan Ellison had a fine freshman season for the Hoosiers and had his most efficient game against the Scarlet Knights in a 41-0 Hoosier win. Ellison only carried the ball 15 times, but finished with 149 yards and two touchdowns, that is a 9.9 yard per carry average. Had the game been closer and not delayed by a thunderstorm, we may have seen more from Ellison that day.
- Simmie Cobbs' 149 yards and a TD on 12 receptions against Ohio State (2017)
- Nick Westbrook's 133 yards and 2 TDs against Ball State (2016)
- Ben Chapple's 480 passing yards and 3 TD's against Michigan (2010)
Editors Note: This article was updated on July 4th 2018.