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Doom, Gloom, and Lucy’s Football: Why #9Windiana is an Impossible Dream

Why Indiana Hoosiers football in 2019 will not even sniff 9 wins: The schedule, the players, the coach.

If you have not heard this summer’s latest, “greatest” B1G meme, then let me give you a brief tour of shudders #9Windiana. This hashtag, born and bred by Indiana’s SBNation site, refers to their (possibly created in a drunken haze) idea that somehow, some way, Indiana football will end the 2019 season with 9 wins. The plan is as follows:

  • Go 3-0 in the non-con [plausible]
  • Beat either Ohio State or Michigan State [sketchy, but not totally improbable]
  • Beat Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska [unlikely sweep, sure, though crazytown is coming]
  • Lose to Northwestern and Penn State [yeah, this will probably happen anyway, 9 wins or no]
  • Beat Michigan [UM, WHAT?]
  • Lose the Bucket [wut]
  • Win a bowl game, finish 9-4 [HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE HERE]

Look, I get it. The belief that one of these days, Indiana will actually turn the corner, and be a good to great team instead of just a middling team that occasionally doesn’t suck. I want it to happen. But the likely way Indiana is going to get there is by slowly going 6-6 or 7-5 more often, until they break into 8 or 9 wins for a year or two. Of course, there is precedent for IU having a 9 win season out of nowhere, so let’s look back at every 9 win season Indiana has ever had, and see if we can’t learn something.

1945 - 9-0-1 (5-0-1 Western)

Before the B1G was the Big Ten, they were the Western Conference. And in 1945, the leaders of the West were checks notes the Indiana Hoosiers? Yes, hard as it may be to comprehend, in 1945 Indiana won the conference championship outright, having only a 7-7 tie against Northwestern the second week of the season as a mark against them. 12th year head coach Bo McMillin led Indiana to their first conference title, and an end of season #4 ranking in the AP Poll. The Hoosiers recorded 4 shutouts, held #14 Tulsa to a lone safety, and scored more than 40 points 4 times. McMillin would be named Coach of the Year for 1945, and two years later would move on to coach the Detroit Lions.

1967 - 9-2 (6-1 Big Ten)

22 years after Indiana’s last 9 win season, third year coach John Pont would take an Indiana squad he had coached to a 1-8-1 record the year prior to a 9-1 regular season record and a shared Big Ten championship, with the only loss being at Minnesota. Due to Rose Bowl tiebreaker rules, Indiana would go on to Pasadena and lose to #1 USC 14-3. Pont’s Hoosiers would go 6-4 the following season, and not sniff a .500 record for the rest of his tenure in Bloomington.

So, as you can see, for Indiana to finish with 9 wins, they must...

But wait Candystripes, you ask, what about Indiana’s other 9 win seasons? Surely, they must have more than two, right? Rutgers has three in the last decade, Indiana must have one in the last 51 years.

Not only are you wrong, helpful interrupter, a little bit of research let me to this terrifying information: three Power 5 schools have never won 10 games in a single season, those schools being Iowa State (last 9 win season in 2000), Vanderbilt (last 9 win season in 2013), and Indiana (yes, that 1967 Rose Bowl team listed above).

As I was saying, for Indiana to finish a season with 9 wins, historical precedent says they must at least be co-champions of the conference, and may possibly be required to beat Purdue, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa all in the same season, given that both prior 9 win season meet both of these criteria. Since Indiana does not play either Illinois or Iowa this season, it seems very unlikely that they will meet either of the necessary criteria in this precedent, thus ruling out #9Windiana as a likelihood.

Of course, there’s also the much easier argument that, to win 9 games in 2019, Indiana would have to defeat all of Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland, and possibly Michigan State on the road, either 2018 West Division Champion Northwestern or “haven’t beaten since 1987” Michigan in Bloomington, and also not fall flat on their faces against Rutgers or any of the non-con opponents. And if more than one of the above fails, that means a win against Ohio State for the first time since 1988 or a win in Happy Valley against noted good at home team Penn State is required instead.

I get it. It’s fun to believe that IU could win 9 football games in a single calendar year. By all means, it’s something we should root for. Just don’t be surprised when Lucy pulls that football away, Charlie Brown, just like she does every other time.