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Saturday, Dec. 9
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

David versus Goliath: The one sided history between Indiana and Michigan


This Saturday, Indiana football faces off against Michigan for the 71st time in program history. While both teams come into this game with winning records, the history between the two programs pits a college football juggernaut against a college football jester.  

Michigan leads all of college football — regardless of level —  in all-time wins with 980 wins. Indiana is on the other end of the spectrum with 698 losses, the most of any program all-time. Indiana is also last in the Big Ten with 502 all-time wins. The Wolverines have 11 national championships to the Hoosiers’ zero and 43 conference championships to Indiana’s two. 

Of the two teams’ previous 70 meetings, 60 of them concluded with Michigan on the winning end, with their first meeting coming over 100 years ago. 

[Related: Indiana football welcomes No. 4 Michigan for homecoming weekend faceoff]

To set the scene, the year is 1900. President William McKinley is up for a reelection bid that he will eventually win, Hawaii has just become a U.S. territory, the Wright Brothers just started experimenting with manned glider flights and on Nov. 3, Indiana officially faced off against Michigan for the first time in football program history. 

Michigan won the first matchup, 12-0 and would go on to win the next three matchups in the next three years without allowing Indiana to score a single point. All four of those games would also be hosted by the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  

The two teams wouldn’t play each other for 22 years before meeting again in Ann Arbor in 1925. Michigan’s win over Indiana in 1925 would end up sticking as the largest margin of victory for either team, 63-0.  

Through five matchups between the teams, the Wolverines had outscored the Hoosiers, 219-0. 

In 1928, behind Indiana head coach Harlan Page, the Hoosiers captured their first win against Michigan with a resounding 6-0 victory. 

For the next 24 matchups — spanning 37 years— Michigan rolled over Indiana. Although the Hoosiers got a couple jabs in throughout the years, they were only able to win eight out of 24 matchups from 1931to 1968.  

29 games into the series, Michigan led in wins, 21-8 . 

In terms of this matchup, the 1970s and 1980s belonged to the Wolverines.

[Related: What the last five homecoming games tell Indiana fans about their 2022 matchup]  

Going into the 1987 matchup, the Wolverines had won 15 consecutive matches between the two and Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler was 14-0 against the Hoosiers. Enter Bill Mallory. 

The Indiana head coach would go on to be the winningest coach in program history, but going into 1987 he was 0-3 against Schembechler and the Wolverines.  

The 1987 season’s start was promising for the Hoosiers as prior to the matchup with No. 20 Michigan, No. 15 Indiana had already gone to Columbus and dismantled No. 9 Ohio State, 31-10. 

The conditions for the game were ferocious, not only was it raining but the Hoosier’s fans were sought to make it tough for the opposing Michigan team. 

“Our crowd was so loud,'' Indiana broadcaster Don Fischer said in a 2005 Indiana athletics interview. “The official never made a loud-speaker announcement. He just stood back there waiting for the crowd to quiet. Our crowd didn't shut up.”  

Although Michigan out gaining Indiana in terms of total yardage — the Wolverines had 300 total yards with 152 rushing yards while the Hoosiers had just 190 total yards — Indiana was able to make stops when it needed to 

“Every big play the defense had to make, they made,” Fischer said. 

With the crowd cheering them on, Indiana prevailed and took down Michigan 14-10, beating Ohio State and Michigan in the same year for the first and only time in school history.  

“Bo Schembechler, after this game, criticized our crowd for being too loud,” Fischer said. “He was rankled because they got beat. He criticized our crowd for being too loud in a 50,000-seat stadium and he has had a 104,000 stadium in Ann Arbor.” 

That ended up being as good as it got for Indiana’s luck against Michigan. It was their own win against Michigan from 1968 to2019. For the next 32 years the Wolverines had the Hoosiers’ number winning 24 consecutive games against the Hoosiers, spanning seven Indiana head football coaches.  

The Hoosiers got close a couple times, including a double overtime loss in 2015 where Indiana running back Jordan Howard ran for 238 yards and two touchdowns. As well in 2017, when Indiana suffered another overtime loss, losing 27-20, both games happening in Bloomington.  

The streak inevitably ended in 2019, to the relief of Hoosier fans, when Indiana cruised past Michigan 38-21 behind 342 yards and three touchdown passes from then-Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.  

Since then, Michigan returned to form, winning last year’s contest 29-7 in Ann Arbor. Although just like the previous three meetings in Bloomington, The Hoosiers looks to challenge the Wolverines no matter the record of both teams nor the trajectory they’re on.

Follow reporters Garrett Newman (@GarrettNewman20) and Jacob Spudich (@spudichjacob) and columnist Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the Indiana football season. 
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