When long-suffering Indiana football fans reminisce about the 1987 win over Michigan, they talk about two things.
First? Crowd noise. The 51,000 full-throated fans packed into Memorial Stadium that day created a raucous, deafening atmosphere in Bloomington. It was so loud that, at one point late in the game, Michigan coach Bo Schembechler paused play to complain to the officiating crew about the decibel level. Imagine that.
The second thing? The wind. Oct. 24, 1987 was a wet and blustery day in Monroe County. Or, in other words, postcard Big Ten weather. Late in the third quarter, IU had the wind at its back as it engineered a 14-play, 65-yard scoring drive that ate eight minutes off the clock. Then, when the period ended and the field flipped, something incredible happened. The wind changed directions, whooshing right back into the faces of the Wolverines over the final 15 minutes as IU held on for the four-point victory.
Did the Hoosiers receive a similar kind of divine assistance on Saturday? No.
And they didn’t need it.
No. 13 Indiana ended its 24-game losing streak against the Wolverines with a convincing effort, pushing away No. 23 Michigan, 38-21, for the first time since that afternoon 33 years ago.
Here are Three Things:
Straight up, Indiana was the better team
The difference in rankings certainly suggested as much, but from start to finish, the Hoosiers proved it. They dictated the course of play. They forced three-and-outs on three of Michigan’s first four offensive possessions. They played a confident and aggressive brand of offensive football.
And you know what else? For the first time in forever, Indiana seemed to match the physical advantage that Michigan always seems to have. Just look at that Stevie Scott goal line touchdown in the fourth quarter:
We’ve all watched the recent games in this series. Indiana has been close — painfully, unforgettably, unimaginably close. For IU to finally clear the hurdle, it long felt like it was going to take a sloppy Michigan performance — the kind of game where Indiana might find a crease and squeeze out a win. Well, the Wolverines were far from crisp on Saturday, but it didn’t matter. Indiana seized this game early and didn’t let it go.
A special shout to Michael
Penix Heisman Jr., who completed 30 of his 50 passes for 342 yards and three scores.
Ty Fryfogle, hello
The senior isn’t the first name that comes to mind when thinking about the Indiana receiving corps. But he sure played like IU’s top option during Saturday’s first half.
Fryfogle had a career day for the Hoosiers, posting personal bests in catches (seven) and yards (142). All of Fryfogle’s production came across the first two quarters, during which he made a couple highlight-reel hauls.
There was the one-handed catch he made down the sideline to pick up 31 yards and put IU on the Michigan 31.
And then there was the 24-yard grab he made in the end zone to put Indiana ahead 14-7 late in the first quarter. Here, take a look:
The third-down difference
Indiana made third down work to its advantage on both sides of the ball, particularly defensively. It’s clear at this point that IU has a defense that’s for real; it’s something to behold. Michigan went merely 3-for-11 on third down, while facing an average distance to go of 11.1 yards. The Wolverines, too, didn’t have a single short-yardage opportunity on third down.
The Hoosiers, meanwhile, entered play tied for last in the conference with a third-down conversion rate of 26 percent. Indiana made good on nine of its 18 chances on Saturday, while facing an average distance to go of 5.2 yards. Five of those first downs came through the air.
Michigan finished with 13 rushing yards on 18 attempts. You just hate to see it.
The Hoosiers are headed to East Lansing, where they haven’t won since 2001. But this, as we know by now, is a year of fresh starts for Indiana. Oh, and Sparty? Sparty got thumped this week.