Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers kick off the 2015 season in just 61 days! #61 is vacant on this year’s roster and the 1961 Hoosiers were just 2-9 (hardly worth remembering in this space). So, we decided to get creative in order to look back at what many consider the greatest IU football team of all-time, the 1967 Big Ten Champions. The reason this squad applies to “61” is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch but this particular team went 6-1 in B1G play (with a 9-2 overall record).
1967 Indiana Hoosiers
9-2 (6-1 in B1G)
In 1966, the Indiana Hoosiers went 1-8-1 and expectations were virtually nonexistent for Coach John Pont’s 1967 squad. Pont made a couple of decisions that had a big decision on the new season as he chose Harry Gonso to start at QB over John Isenbarger. Pont believed that Isenbarger belonged on the field though and he gave him a shot as the starting tailback. He also moved captain Doug Crusan from starting OT to the defense. The moves paid off in spectacular fashion as the Hoosiers pulled off close win after close win and secured the program’s lone Rose Bowl appearance.
The season started off with a come-from-behind 12-10 victory over Kentucky. A late FG broke a tie against Kansas and gave the Hoosiers an 18-15 win and a 2-0 start. The Hoosiers then knocked off Illinois (20-7), Iowa (21-17) and Michigan (27-20) before stepping back out of conference to drill Arizona (42-7). IU resumed B1G play against the then-winless Badgers and defeated them 14-9 and scored a last-minute TD to beat Michigan State (14-13). They suffered their lone regular season defeat when they were pounded by Minnesota (who shared the conference title), 33-7. That defeat left an Old Oaken Bucket showdown for the B1G title as the Boilers entered at 6-0 while the Hoosiers were 5-1 (can you imagine how intense the Bucket game would be if the Rose Bowl was on the line? I can’t either). A now-famous goal-line stand by the staunch Hoosiers defense stopped the Boilers late and the Hoosiers took the Bucket, and the Rose Bowl berth, with a 19-14 victory.
IU faced O.J. Simpson and the USC Trojans in Pasadena. Don’t you get warm thoughts just thinking about that? What an absolute dream it would be to have our Hoosiers return to the Rose Bowl…keep the faith Hoosier fans, it will happen someday! Simpson ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns and the Trojans took the Rose Bowl, 14-3. The defeat doesn’t dampen the historic achievements of the 1967 Hoosiers and we thought it was only appropriate to squeeze that historic team into our countdown.
Come back daily for another countdown feature and more tremendous offseason coverage on Hoosier Huddle.