1987 Peach Bowl Squad to be Honored Saturday
Sept. 19, 2007
The 1987 Hoosiers will be recognized after the first quarter of Saturday's game against Illinois on the occasion of their 20-year reunion. That year, IU went 8-4 with a 6-2 record in Big Ten play and advanced to the Peach Bowl after finishing tied for second in the conference. Assistant Athletics Director for Game Management Kit Klingelhoffer recently took a look back at the 1987 season.
Quick....name the only team in Indiana football history to beat Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue in the same season.....give up??? Try the 1987 Hoosiers, Bill Mallory's fourth IU squad that played Michigan State for the Big Ten championship, and then gave the Peach Bowl a memorable game in early January.
Many on that '87 Hoosier team are in Bloomington this weekend and in attendance at today's game as they celebrate and reminisce 20 years later on that special season.
The Hoosiers had gone to their first bowl game under Mallory in 1986 while posting an overall 6-6 record after losing to Florida State in the All-American Bowl.
Heading into the season with 17 returning starters, Mallory was quoted as saying "I do have an optimistic feel about our team. "We're coming off a year in which we had a winning season and went to a bowl game. We have a lot of key people returning. We should be better offensively and we feel we can be better defensively than we have been."
Mallory proved to be a prophet.
After opening the season with a 35-13 win over Rice, the Hoosiers were blasted 34-15 by Kentucky. Perhaps the key to the whole season came in IU's next game, a home encounter with Missouri. IU led 13-10 at the end of three quarters, but Mizzou came back to take a 27-13 lead with 3:49 to play. With little time remaining and facing a 4th-and-17 from the Missouri 43, quarterback Dave Schnell hooked up on an 18-yard completion to Ernie Jones for a first down, and on the next play, Schnell and Jones connected on a 25-yard pass for the winning score. That win set the stage for what was to follow.
An easy 35-18 win over Northwestern had the Hoosiers at 3-1 with a trip to Ohio State on the horizon. Now remember, not only were the Hoosiers playing at Ohio State, but an Indiana team hadn't beaten the Buckeyes since 1951 (32-10) in Woody Hayes' first season.
It was a 10-10 tie at half, only because OSU's Matt Frantz kicked a 51-yard field goal on the final play. In the second half, IU thoroughly dominated Ohio State, limiting the Buckeyes to 10 yards rushing, 85 total yards and without a first down in the third quarter. The offense, meanwhile, had a 6-yard TD run by Tom Polce, set up by a 40-yard punt return by Tony Buford, and two TD passes from Schnell (to Jones and Polce). In total, IU had 405 yards to 264 for the Bucks, and the final score was 31-10, Hoosiers. After the game, Ohio State coach Earle Bruce proclaimed it "the darkest day" in the history of OSU football.
The Hoosiers were on the road again the next week at Minnesota, a rare Friday night game because the Minnesota Twins were scheduled to play in the American League playoffs the next day. Again, IU came from behind to win, 18-16, scoring the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run by Schnell in the final period. It was the first time in 19 years IU had won consecutive Big Ten road contests.
Home for the first time in three weeks, the Hoosiers faced Michigan, a team they hadn't beaten in 20 years. Michigan led 10-7 at the half but Schnell gave the Hoosiers the lead in the third period with a 3-yard run that capped a 14-play, 65-yard drive. IU's defense held on from there, limiting the Wolverines to 88-yards in the second half.
A win over Illinois was sandwiched between losses at Iowa and Michigan State, and in the season finale, Indiana ripped Purdue, 35-14, behind an opportunistic defense that forced four fumbles, intercepted two passes and blocked two field goal attempts. That was the first of seven Bucket wins for Mallory, IU's al-time coaching leader in wins.
The season ended at 7-4 after a 27-22 gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee in the Peach Bowl - with the Vols actually scoring the winning touchdown with 1:52 to play. But among the highlights, in addition to the aforementioned wins over Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue:
1st team All-America honors for wide receiver Ernie Jones (1,265 receiving yards)
Yes, it was quite a year.
Check back soon