Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: The Hoosier hurt index: Indiana football’s top 10 worst losses in 2021

IU redshirt graduate defensive back Marcelino McCrary-Ball reacts after Purdue scores a touchdown on Nov. 27, 2021, at Ross-Ade Stadium. Indiana finished the season with a 2-10 record.
IU redshirt graduate defensive back Marcelino McCrary-Ball reacts after Purdue scores a touchdown on Nov. 27, 2021, at Ross-Ade Stadium. Indiana finished the season with a 2-10 record.

As someone who covers Indiana football and also happens to attend Indiana University, it’s my job to be objective.

But believe it or not, it isn’t super fun seeing your school’s football team get utterly embarrassed on a nearly weekly basis. In homage to a season many would like to forget, I surveyed friends and drew from my own repressed memories to rank Indiana’s 10 most painful losses.

10. Week 10 at Michigan, 29-7

The morning after this blowout, I ate breakfast at a diner near Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was severely understaffed and we didn’t receive any silverware until well after the food arrived. 

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If I had decided not to wait and instead shoveled scrambled eggs into my face with my bare hands, I would have left that restaurant with slightly more dignity than the Hoosiers when they left the Big House. 

9. Week 9 at Maryland, 38-35

Indiana scored its highest point total against a Football Bowl Subdivision team Sept. 11, which would have been great if it didn’t also allow its highest point total against an unranked opponent.

Still, there was something comfortable about watching Indiana lose close, like a bowl of chicken soup if that soup were way too hot and scalded the hell out of your tongue. 

8. Week 8 vs Ohio State, 54-7

Freight trains. Tidal waves. Ohio State’s offense. Even if you see something coming from a mile away, it can still hurt when it hits.

The upside is this game introduced Hoosier nation to sophomore walk-on quarterback Grant Gremel, who stepped in after junior Jack Tuttle was injured and freshman Donaven McCulley was not very good at throwing the ball. 

7. Week 12 vs Minnesota, 35-14

I feel the same way about this game as I feel about getting my wisdom teeth removed. It took a long time and it surely happened, but I barely remember any of it. 

After the game, Gremel said he didn’t believe in pressure, which probably would have sounded way cooler if his team hadn’t just lost 35-14 on senior night.

6. Week 11 vs Rutgers, 38-3

Losing to Rutgers is like stepping on a rake head so the handle smacks you between the eyes — it definitely hurts, but it’s almost too absurd not to laugh. 

Between a Rutgers offensive lineman scoring a touchdown and the mass of shirtless students in the frigid bleachers of Memorial Stadium, you never knew if your tears came from sadness or laughter.

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5. Week 7 vs Michigan State, 20-15

Indiana’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher to 3.7 yards per carry. Indiana’s offense scored one touchdown. 

It’s as if this game broke the Hoosier defense, which allowed 40 points per game the remainder of the season. That’s pretty bad, but it’s the logical choice for a foolishly loyal lover who realizes they’re being used and can no longer carry the relationship by themself.

4. Week 13 at Purdue, 44-7

Finally, the merciful curtain call. Imagine if a stage actor took their final bow but continued lowering their body until they curled up into the fetal position and started to sob a bit.

This was allegedly a rivalry game, though that implies a certain level of parity. Then again, I suppose Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are technically rivals even though one usually ends up smashing itself on the head with an anvil. 

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3. Week 1 at Iowa, 34-6

For me, the shock of Indiana losing so embarrassingly in week one had an almost numbing effect, like getting hit really hard in the back of the head. 

By the time I fully processed what happened, everyone had left the stadium except Herky the Hawk, strutting and bobbing his comically oversized head as one last sick taunt.

2. Week 5 at Penn State, 24-0

Seeing Indiana score zero points a year after upsetting Penn State on junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr.'s iconic 2-point conversion was brutal. Seeing Penix go down with his fourth-straight season-ending injury was downright awful.

Almost as bad as that Indiana offense, am I right?

No, actually — the injury definitely sucked way more. That joke did not make me feel better at all. I am a sad, sad man wearing the painted smile of a clown.

1. Week 3 vs Cincinnati, 38-24

The loss to Iowa stung, but a victory over then-No. 8 University of Cincinnati would right the ship. 

Indiana led 14-0 in the second quarter. Then a controversial targeting penalty booted star senior linebacker Micah McFadden from the game. 

Then the Bearcats outscored the Hoosiers 38-10. Then everyone else on the schedule outscored them 291-110. 

Who knows how the season would have played out if that referee hadn’t blown his whistle. Would we be talking about a major bowl game?

I mean, no. It was still a pretty bad football team. This is a top 10 list, after all.

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