After A Day Of Upsets, What Are Indiana Football's Best Upset Wins?


Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

On Friday afternoon we saw one of, if not the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament when the second seeded Michigan State Spartans took it on the chin from the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State. That shocking upset got me thinking about what some of Indiana Football's biggest upsets were.

I went through the IU record book and found quite a few occasions where the Hoosiers pulled off wins against ranked teams as underdogs. Now there are some caveats to my search. First, the AP did not rank teams until 1936, so it is hard to judge some of the pre-ranking games so this list is from 1937 on. I was also hesitant to include the games from the World War II Years (1941-1945) due to the craziness of rosters and honestly it was just easier to keep those teams out of this list. I found 10 upsets that should be noted on this list and it will be in chronological order.

1. 1937 Indiana 10 #8 Ohio State 0

The Hoosiers 10-0 win over the eighth ranked Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in 1937 ended up costing the Buckeyes a shot at the Big Ten Title and had a very cool stat attached to it. The 10 points the Hoosiers scored were the only points the Buckeyes allowed in the Big Ten that year. They outscored their other conference opponents 99-0. Indiana finished the '37 season with a 5-3 (3-2) record and a third place finish in the Big Ten under head coach Bo McMillin. 

2. 1950 Indiana 20 #11 Notre Dame 7

Anytime a team can beat a highly ranked Notre Dame team in football, it has to be on the list of greatest games. The Irish came into Bloomington as the defending national champs and left with a 20-7 defeat at the hands of the Hoosiers. In a game dominated by the IU defense, they held Notre Dame to a paltry 93 total yards, the Hoosiers used two touchdown runs from Bobby Robertson and a touchdown pass from Lou D'Achille to Don Luft. The Hoosiers never lived up to the expectations they set with this win as they lost four of their final five games to finish the year with a 3-5-1 (1-4) record in a tie for eighth in the Big Ten under head coach Clyde B. Smith. Smith was let go after the 1951 season. 

3. 1954 Indiana 13 #11 Michigan 9

The Hoosiers have only beaten the Wolverines nine times in their history, so beating a ranked Maize and Blue squad at the Big House is a pretty impressive feat. The Hoosiers have only beaten a ranked Wolverine squad twice, in 1954 then again in 1987. The Hoosiers, once again, did not capitalize on a major victory and lost two of their final three to finish 3-6 (2-4) and seventh in the Big Ten under head coach Bernie Crimmins.

4. 1967 Indiana 19 #3 Purdue 14

In what is widely known as the greatest game and biggest win in Indiana Football history the Hoosiers knocked off the third-ranked Boilermakers to clinch the Big Ten Title and a berth in the Rose Bowl as well as the Old Oaken Bucket. IU entered the game as a 14-point underdog. The Hoosiers built up a 19-7 lead in the first half behind the play of quarterback Harry Gonzo and a memorable 63-yard touchdown run from Terry Cole. Purdue would score to get within 19-14 before driving all the way to the Indiana one-yard line where Indiana forced a fumble that clinched to game, the Big Ten Title, a Rose Bowl berth, and the Old Oaken Bucket.

The Hoosiers finished the regular season with 9-1 (6-1) record under head coach John Pont before falling to the top-ranked USC Trojans and O.J. Simpson 14-3 in the Rose Bowl.

5. 1979 Indiana 38 #9 BYU 37 (Holiday Bowl)

The BYU Cougars came into the Holiday Bowl with a top-10 ranking and a perfect 11-0 record. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers sported a 7-4 (5-3) record while going 0-3 against teams ranked in the Top-25.

In a roller-coaster of a game that saw eight lead changes and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, the Hoosiers scored the game winning touchdown on a Tim Wilbur 62-yard punt return and hold on for dear life as the Cougars drove down the field, but ultimately missed a field goal with 11 seconds left.

Indiana was led by Big Ten MVP Tim Clifford, who passed for 171 yards and a rushing attack that racked up 183 yards. Indiana earned their first bowl win and finished the season with eight wins and a final AP Ranking of 19. 

6. 1987 Indiana 31 #9 Ohio State 10

When the opposing coach calls it the "Darkest Day" in their storied football program's history, it has to be one of the biggest upsets to ever happen. On a rainy, dreary day at Ohio Stadium the Indiana Hoosiers laid the hammer down on a top-10 ranked Ohio State Buckeye squad, beating them 31-10. The Hoosiers shut out the Buckeyes in the second half 21-0 behind 126 yards and a score from All-American Anthony Thompson and two touchdown passes from quarterback Dave Schnell.

The Hoosiers were coached by Bill Mallory, who said after the game that, "We didn't come in here to lose, and this is a great confidence builder, now the people will understand that Indiana plays some great football." The Hoosiers would go on to beat a ranked Michigan game the following week at Memorial Stadium 14-10 (IU was ranked higher than UM in that one) to cap off the two best weeks in IU Football history. Indiana finished 1987 8-4 after losing 27-22 to Tennessee in the Peach Bowl.

7. 2002 Indiana 32 #23 Wisconsin 29

Head coach Gerry Dinardo's first year in Bloomington was an otherwise dismal 3-9 (1-7) year. After losing their two best offensive players, the Hoosiers were in a full rebuilding effort. The lone Big Ten win came in dramatic fashion in Memorial Stadium as the Hoosiers knocked off Barry Alvarez and the Wisconsin Badgers (their last victory against Wisconsin as well), 32-29. The Hoosiers trailed 16-10 at halftime and 29-17 after three, but Gibran Hamden's best game as a Hoosier led a 15 point fourth quarter explosion for IU and gave them a big win.

Hamden finished with 310 yards passing with three touchdowns. Former Hoosier great Courtney Robey had this to say about his efforts, " "We could have all gone out and hung our heads when we were doing badly,'' said Roby, who had six catches for 94 yards. "But
he had us hang in there. He is a warrior.''

The win pulled Indiana to 3-3 overall, but the Hoosiers would lose their final six games to finish the 2002 campaign.

8. 2004 Indiana 30 #24 Oregon 24

Indiana opened a season 2-0 for the first time since 1996 and it was not the easy way. After pummeling Central Michigan in the opener 41-10, the Hoosiers traveled west to Auzten Stadium to take on the Ducks. Auzten is not an easy place to play and this was no slouch of an Oregon squad either. The Hoosiers forced seven turnovers and raced out to a 23-0 lead at half time. Oregon battled back, but a 98-yard kickoff return from Lance Bennett gave the Hoosiers a two-score lead and was just too much for the Ducks to over come. 

After the Hoosiers' win coach Dinardo said, "It's not just today, it's a culmination of the last few
years, we've been building for something like this and you can never tell when it will come."

The Hoosiers went on to knock off another ranked team in No. 24 Minnesota later that year, but lost heart breakers to Northwestern (31-24 OT), Illinois (26-22) and Penn State (22-18) before a lopsided loss to Purdue.

9. 2006 Indiana 31 #15 Iowa 28

It was the greatest moment of an era of Indiana Football that never really had a chance to develop. Head coach Terry Hoeppner came to Indiana from Miami (OH) with a dream. This was the job that he wanted and treated it as a destination job. Sadly, Coach Hep passed away in June of 2007 and did not get to see his goal of "Playing 13" realized. However, he did provide one of the biggest and most enjoyable wins in IU history.


The Hoosiers had not defeated a top-15 team in 20 years when the Iowa Hawkeyes rolled into Bloomington for their match-up. The Hoosiers were coming off a last-second win at Illinois and got off to a slow start falling behind 21-7 after two fumbles, but rallied to draw within 21-17 by half time and that is when the Hardy-Lewis show came to life. Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis finished the day 19 of 25 passing for 255 yards and three touchdowns all to 6-foot-7 receiver James Hardy, who absolutely destroyed Iowa's defense in his career. Hardy became the the first IU receiver sine Duane Gunn in 1983 to haul in three touchdown passes. The Hoosiers held off the Hakweyes' final push when a Drew Tate pass was deflected and picked off by a diving Will Meyers. 

The Hoosiers finished the 2006 season at 5-7 (3-5) and could be seen as a missed opportunity as they struggled to find a consistent quarterback early in the year that lead to losses to both Southern Illinois and Connecticut. 

10. 2014 Indiana 31  #18 Missouri 27

Just a week after losing a heartbreaker to Bowling Green and it looked as if the wheels were coming off the Kevin Wilson train, but then a magical win in Columbia showed Hoosier Nation what this program could be, however the head coach does what he does and put it all into perspective saying, "We ain't got nothing figured out, "we're the same group of bums that played last week. That's the same bunch of bums this week. We'll see how we show up next week." 

The Hoosiers and Tigers played to a 17-17 tie heading into half time as IU had to play most of the half without Tevin Coleman. However, the Hoosiers took control in the third quarter as they opened up a 24-17 lead before falling behind again 27-24 late in the fourth. IU got the ball back with just over two minutes left and used a fourth down penalty and a monster 44-yard catch and run from Coleman to set up the Hoosiers inside the Tigers' 10-yard line. From there, Senior D'Angelo Roberts leaped into the end zone from three yards out to put the Hoosiers up for good.

This win was supposed to propel the Hoosiers to bigger and better things, but a disheartening loss the next week to Maryland and a season ending injury in the sixth game of the year to quarterback Nate Sudfeld left Hoosier fans wondering what if.

I encourage Hoosier fans to comment on this and let us know what your favorite upsets in IUFB history are. If we left some off the list let us know.