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Indiana is hapless, punchless, and hopeless

Factoids and nuggets that plumb the depths of Indiana’s historic awfulness

David Stluka

Hi everybody! I took last week off because I just couldn’t bring myself to dump on Rutgers. Honestly, I had a bunch of stats lined up to point out just how terrible Rutgers is, but Zuzu’s plea (cry for help?) got to me:

What pathos!

If somebody is looking to Rutgers football for inspiration, I think it’s fair to conclude that the damage is so profound that a hate piece is just piling on. That said, there are a few snippets that I need to share before we get to Indiana:

-Rutgers started the 1989 season with consecutive ties. That’s right. They were 0-0-2. If nothing else, Rutgers has always been committed to the 1869 birthplace of football bit, and multiple ties really does the job.

-In the Northwestern piece, I indicated my fascination with games featuring teams that would combine to lose 20 games in a season. Here are Rutgers’ contributions to that storied list:

  • *2002: Rutgers (1-11) over Army (1-11), 44-0
  • *2002: Buffalo (1-11) over Rutgers (1-11), 39-11
  • **2003: Rutgers (5-7) over Army (0-13), 36-21
  • **2015: Rutgers (4-8) over Kansas (0-12), 27-14
  • 2018: Rutgers (1-11) over Texas State (3-9), 35-7
  • 2018: Kansas (3-9) over Rutgers (1-11), 55-14
  • 2019: Rutgers (2-10) over UMass (1-11), 48-21
*What a circle of trasch from 2002, huh? Dear Lord.
**I do feel a little bad counting 4- and 5- win Rutgers teams in this stat, and I might tweak it to require 9 losses each per team. Still, Rutgers.

-Despite the above list, I believe the most appropriately illustrative game Rutgers has played over the last 50 years came on November 23, 2001. The 2-8 Scarlet Knights, with wins over Buffalo (3-8) and Navy (0-10) hosted Cal in a game that was re-scheduled because of 9-11. With Cal entering the game at 0-10, WHY this game was rescheduled is an interesting question. Fortunately for the Golden Bears, Rutgers served as a welcoming host, losing 20-10, thus allowing Cal to avoid a winless season.

Stay you, Rutgers


Anyway, today’s focus in Indiana.

If you want your hate from a rival, with lots of snarky pictures, BoilerUp89 has you covered:

If you don’t mind skimming through plenty of text to find occasionally interesting statistical nuggets that underscore how bad Indiana has been, historically, read on.

First, though, there is some actual bile I feel toward the Hoosiers and it was easy to get that hate back. I just reviewed my hate piece from two years ago:

Now I review previous hate pieces to make sure I don’t self-plagiarize, but, holy shit, if there’s a dead horse worth beating, it’s Indiana’s galactically stupid protest against the B1G changing the tiebreaker rules in 2020. I laid out why that was so dumb in that piece, so let’s limit ourselves to the aftermath:

  • Indiana shat on themselves in their “patchless” bowl game
  • Indiana went 2-10/0-9 in 2021
  • Indiana went 4-8/2-7 in 2022

In other words, since rending their garments and flouncing about because of the disrespect the football program was receiving, the Hoosiers have gone on to play football to the tune of a .240 winning percentage.


I continue to maintain that the conference would be far better if we just traded Indiana to the Big 12 for Kansas. The Hoosiers could try to gin up a rivalry with Cincinnati, and the B1G would get a football program on the upswing and a basketball program where the banners aren’t covered in cobwebs. Alas.

December 31, 1991

This was the date of Indiana’s last bowl victory, a 24-0 pasting of Baylor in the 1991 Copper Bowl (now the Guaranteed Rate Bowl). It was the Hoosiers’ fifth bowl appearance over a six-year span, and there was every reason to think Indiana could maintain their position as a middle-of-the-pack B1G school. And, basically, they did, through 1992 (5-6/3-5), 1993 (8-4/5-3), and 1994 (6-5/3-5). But 1995 saw the Hoosiers slide to 2-9/0-8, and Indiana would go from 1995-2014 with only one bowl appearance.

If you want to express Indiana’s abject terribleness at football succinctly, you can’t improve on the following stat (and it may be my very favorite factoid from all the research I’ve done so far on 2023 hate pieces:

From 1992 to the present, i.e., counting every game Indiana has played since their last bowl victory, the Hoosiers have more non-conference wins (68) than conference wins (65).

Over a 30-plus year span—AND THIS INCLUDES 2020, WHEN THE HOOSIERS WON SIX CONFERENCE GAMES AND DIDN’T PLAY A NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE—Indiana is so woeful in football that they can’t beat enough B1G doormats to exceed the win total when fattening up on paycheck games.

Verily, Indiana is a MAC school in candy-striped disguise.

I mean, what the fuck are we even doing at this point.

Hell, for shits and giggles, let’s take 2020 out of the equation. It already seems really clear that there were aberrant performances all over CFB that year. If you start from today and work backwards, how far back can you go and have Indiana still have more non-conference than conference wins?

Still thinking?

Given up yet?

Don’t care because you weren’t alive?

Yeah, pretty much.

It would have been beautiful, symbolically, if the answer was October 16, 1987, when Indiana beat Minnesota 18-17 on a Friday night in a game that was rescheduled owing the Twins needing the Metrodome for Game 1 of the World Series.*

*Perhaps surprisingly, this was NOT the most recent Twins playoff victory.

That win—if we’re counting backwards—gives Indiana 79 conference wins against 78 non-conference.

Of course, Indiana was good in 1987 and not all that good prior, so by 1985—again, counting backward—Indiana is back to being underwater with more non-conference wins than conference ones.

It isn’t until the 1982 Oaken Bucket game, a 13-7 win over Purdue in Lee Corso’s last game as Hoosiers coach, that Indiana gets right-side up permanently. One more time: since Lee Corso left the Hooiser sidelines, Indiana has as many non-conference wins as they do B1G wins.

So, again, just to bottom line:

  • 1992-present (i.e., last bowl win to present): more non-conference than conference wins.
  • 1983-present (i.e., a forty fucking year stretch): more non-conference than conference wins if we don’t count Covid ball.

At least you’ve got hoops to fall back on, no?

Let’s close out with a few quick hits to highlight just how awful Indiana is at football and how much dead weight the rest of us B1G fans are carrying around by allowing these ungrateful simps to remain in the conference:

*Indiana won @Iowa on 10/8/94 and again on 10/23/99. In-between, the Hoosiers played 41 conference games. In none of them did Indiana win outside their home state. The two road wins were both over ever-accommodating Purdue. [What the fuck is wrong with this state?] The overall conference record: 7-34, including a 5-33 run.

**In the middle of that run of shittiness was one of three “20-loss specials” that Indiana has been involved in. (This first was a 1984 “showdown” with Northwestern that I already noted two weeks ago.) In 1997, Indiana, who was to finish 2-9, beat Illinois 23-6 as the Illini were on their way to an 0-11 season. Which one of these two teams was in a bowl game two years later, and outright champs four years later?

Not Indiana.

***Of course, Illinois is terrible at handling prosperity so, by 2003, these two teams decided to do it again. This time, the Hoosiers gutted out an inspiring 17-14 win over the Illinois. As Indiana finished 2-10 with the other win being over Indiana State, and Illinois went 1-11 with their only win being over Illinois State, this may well be the only B1G game in at least fifty years to produce the ONLY FCS victory either school notched on the season.

Hats off. Truly.

****Finally, you know how I know Indiana’s 2020 season was Covid-based fraud? Because they beat Wisconsin. [I know. I know. The “correct” answer here is that they beat Michigan. Check out the series history and tell me there shouldn’t be a huge FBS-wide asterisk RE: 2020. Still, I’m a UW fan, so deal with it.]

Prior to that, UW had won 10 in a row in the series, and 16 of 18 dating back to Barry Alvarez’s first Rose Bowl season in 1993. Everybody knows about 83-20 in 2010. But don’t lose sight of just how hapless Indiana’s combined performance in the 2012 and 2013 games were.

Over the span of 120 minutes (and two different UW coaches), Wisconsin outscored Indiana 113-17. And that probably gives Indiana too much credit. The Badgers threw 22 passes. Total. Over the two games. Of course, why would you pass when you can call 114 runs and get 10 ypc (okay, 9.81). 114 rushes, 1,118 yards, 13 TDs. Three Badgers went over 100 yards in 2013, paced by Montee Ball carrying 20 times for 205 yards (and WR Jared Abbrederis took 3 jet sweeps for 86 yards), and two Badgers broke the century mark in 2012 with Melvin Gordon falling just short, with 96 yards (on 8 carries). It was almost like the Badgers were playing Nebraska or something.

Anyway, the biggest moment in Indiana’s recent history was a two-point conversion that shouldn’t have counted against a Penn State team that actually wasn’t good. Maybe that’s the best concise encapsulation.

No matter how you slice it, Indiana has almost always sucked and will almost certainly continue to suck.