1988 Liberty Bowl Champs Reunite This Weekend
Sept. 17, 2008
The 1988 Liberty Bowl Champion Hoosiers will reunite in Bloomington this weekend and will be recognized at halftime of the Indiana-Ball State game. Below is a look back at the 1988 season:
In the outlook section of Indiana's 1988 football media guide, the opening line read, "football fever abounds at Indiana, and with good reason."
The '87 Hoosiers, Bill Mallory's third IU team, won 8 games, finished in a second place tie in the Big Ten, and narrowly lost the Peach Bowl game (27-22) to Tennessee. But the Hoosiers entered the '88 season after losing three high NFL draft choices from the '87 squad - wide receiver Ernie Jones, tackle Eric Moore and linebacker Van Waiters. Could the Hoosiers repeat their '87 success? Yes.
The Hoosiers ended the '88 season 8-3-1 and became the second team in IU history to win a postseason bowl game, as they pounded South Carolina 34-10 in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. And it was a year of multiple records.
Individually, junior tailback Anthony Thompson was named Big Ten MVP and 1st team All-America after setting IU records with 1,686 yards and 26 touchdowns. Kicker Pete Stoyanovich set new IU records with 45 extra points and 17 field goals. As a team, the Hoosiers set records with 2,963 rushing yards, 5,253 yards in total offense, 50 touchdowns and 396 points.
Thompson, Stoyanovich, guard Don Schrader, outside linebacker Joe Huff and linebacker Willie Bates were all named First Team All-Big Ten, the most Big Ten honorees on any Indiana team ever.
It was quite a year, quite a team, and that Liberty Bowl championship team is celebrating their 20th reunion this weekend.
Some individual game highlights:
Indiana 41, Rice 14: The Hoosiers led at one point 34-0 and had touchdown drives of 79, 80, 72 and 74 yards while totaling 517 yards of offense in the opener. Thompson was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 187 yards and 3 TDs, while punter Tom Bolyard set an IU single game record by averaging 54 yards on four punts.
Indiana 36, Kentucky 15: The Hoosiers retained the Bourbon Barrel while scoring on all five offensive possessions in the second half of their home opener. The game's big play was a 69-yard TD strike from Dave Schnell to Rob Turner that stretched IU's lead from 23-15 to 30-15. Stoyanovich booted three field goals, including a school-record 53-yarder.
Indiana 48, Northwestern 17: IU opened Big Ten play with an easy win and in doing so totaled the most points they scored in conference action since 1945, and set a new team record with 474 yards rushing, while the 556 yards in total offense was IU's best ever in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers averaged 7.7 yards on 72 offensive plays. Stoyanovich became IU's leading career scorer with 191 points and set a Big Ten record with his 77th consecutive extra point (which he would extend to 107 without a miss).
Indiana 41, Ohio State 7: It was `dark day two' for the Buckeyes. IU led 28-0 at halftime as Thompson scored all four touchdowns and set IU game, season and career records for touchdowns. The 34-point margin was IU's biggest in Big Ten play since 1945. Thompson was Big Ten and National Player of the Week while IU's defense had four interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Indiana 33, Minnesota 13: Schnell passed for 247 yards and scored twice. His favorite target on the day was Tony Buford, who hauled in six passes for 152 yards. Bates was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after his 10-tackle, one-interception, and one-fumble-recovery effort.
Indiana 45, Iowa 34: In maybe the longest game in Memorial Stadium history (3:57), the Hoosiers jumped out to a 35-11 halftime lead and held on in a wild second half. Thompson had 168 yards rushing and 3 TDs, while Schnell passed for 2 TDs and ran for another. Iowa's Chuck Hartlieb set numerous Stadium records by completing 44-of-60 passes for 558 yards.
Indiana 52, Purdue 7: IU's 52 points were the most by a Hoosier team in the 91-year-old rivalry and matched IU's highest total ever in Big Ten play. IU had an edge in total yards by a 537-230 margin. Brian Dewitz had a 34-yard interception return for a TD and another interception that set up another TD. Thompson ran for 167 yards and 3 TD's.
Indiana 34, South Carolina 10: On a brutally cold, windy night, the Hoosiers dominated but the game-breaking play came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Schnell and Turner hooked up for an 88-yard touchdown pass. The Hoosiers established a Liberty Bowl record with 575 yards in total offense - South Carolina had but 153 yards. Schnell was the game's most valuable player after throwing for 378 yards while Turner also set a record with 182 receiving yards on five catches. Thompson tied a Big Ten record with his 25th and 26th touchdowns of the year and rushed for 140 yards.
Check back soon