At most schools, the homecoming game is cause for celebration. Many alumni are back in town, the pregame festivities are fun for everyone, then fans fill the football stadium and cheer their team on to victory.
While IU certainly checks those first two boxes, a football victory during homecoming has been missing in recent years. In fact, the Hoosiers haven’t won a homecoming game since 2010, when quarterback Ben Chappell found Demarlo Belcher for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter of a 36-34 win over Arkansas State.
Since its last win on homecoming, six different quarterbacks have started for IU during homecoming, and none has been able to find that winning formula. The closest was in 2015, when Rutgers made its first trip to Memorial Stadium. Behind four touchdown passes from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, IU held a commanding 52-27 lead with just over five minutes left in the third quarter. But the wheels soon fell off, and Rutgers stormed back with 28 unanswered points and beat the Hoosiers 55-52.
The heartbreaking defeat to Rutgers isn’t the only close call that IU has experienced during this seven-year stretch. Two years ago, No. 10 Nebraska came to Bloomington and jumped all over the IU early, taking a 17-0 lead just 10 minutes into the contest.
Thanks to two touchdowns from running back Devine Redding and two field goals from Griffin Oakes, IU trailed by just two points with a little over eight minutes to play. But an eight minute, 15 play Nebraska drive broke the hearts of the Hoosier faithful and the Cornhuskers snuck out of Memorial Stadium with a 27-22 victory.
Last season, IU had another chance to break the homecoming losing streak against a ranked opponent. No. 16 Michigan was in control for most of the game after taking an early 13-point lead, but IU scored ten points in the game’s final four minutes to force overtime. However, Michigan running back Karan Higdon found the end zone on the first play of overtime and Michigan escaped, winning 27-20.
This year, IU will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes, who haven’t made the trip to Bloomington since 2015. Knocking off Iowa will be challenging for IU, since the Iowa is one of the two favorites to win the Big Ten West division alongside Wisconsin. IU sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey will make his second start on homecoming, looking to improve upon his performance in last year’s game, where he threw for 178 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions.
When Iowa comes to town, IU will have another shot at knocking off a Big Ten foe in the homecoming game. The Hoosiers have shown time and again that they’re capable of hanging with some of the best teams in the conference, but they just can’t seem to get over the hump.
After heartbreaking fourth quarter losses the last two years, IU will need to finish.