Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Played on an ugly, rainy day, this was IU’s ugliest game of the year, and was the only game in which the offense failed to score a point (a late Marcus Thigpen kickoff return touchdown accounted for IU’s only score). This game was the last start for once and future quarterback Blake Powers.
The two teams produced an amazing show of offensive ineptitude. One has to imagine that weather is a big reason. IU managed 10 first downs to Uconn’s 9. The Hoosiers, on 27 rushing attempts, netted zero yards on the ground. IU did manage 192 yards in the air, but UConn outgained the Hoosiers (easily), 284-192, despite what typically would be considered a meager offensive output. The number of punts in the game (19) equaled the number of first downs.
While Kellen Lewis ultimately emerged as the starter after this game, no Hoosier stood out on offense. Lewis managed 7-13 for 64 yards but threw two interceptions. Blake Powers was 14-30 with one INT. In the first half, IU had ten possessions. IU sustained only one of those drives for more than three plays. IU’s longest drive of the half was 28 yards. Connecticut, despite the statistical bump from this game, was not a good defensive team. The Huskies allowed 358 yards per game last season, which placed them closer to the bottom of Division I-A than the top. On the other hand, IU’s defensive numbers were way better than normal, so the weather may have been the most significant factor in this game.
Although Powers started this game, the play-by-play does indicate that Lynch (presumably at Hoeppner’s behest) rotated the two quarterbacks in and out. That’s easy to second-guess at this point, but at the time, IU was faced with deciding between an exciting young guy and a solid QB who set the school TD pass record the season before. Contrary to how it seemed at the time, this game was not the end of the Hoosiers’ season. None of the hearty folks in the sub-30,000 crowd that day would have believed that IU would enter the Bucket game with a chance to secure a bowl bid.