Those Were The Days - Indiana
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I just want to take this moment during my intro for Detlef's TWTD to note what today was supposed to be. This was supposed to be a road game at Wisconsin. That didn't change until early this year when the Big Ten switched things up, took Penn State off our schedule, put Indiana on, and moved the Wisconsin game to October (and the Indiana game to Labor Day weekend). I'm so, so glad I'm not in Madison right now. That game can wait.
Illinois visits the mighty Indiana Hoosiers for a Friday night game which allows everyone to get crunk beforehand. I am vehemently opposed to Friday night college football games. Fridays should be the exclusive realm for high school football. But it is a chance for national exposure for Illinois football so I guess it's a plus. Will Eric Gordon attend the game? I will be making the road trip to Indiana for the first time since I visited that "other" Memorial Stadium and that "other" Assembly Hall.
October 7, 1995: Illinois continued to be stuck in neutral under the "coaching" of Lou Tepper. Illinois was 2-2 heading to Bloomington. I took a respite from my studies at a sixth-tier Chicago-area law school and rode Amtrak to the 217. I met some of my friends at R&R's on Friday night for beer, pizza bread and darts. Early Saturday morning we awoke to drive to Bloomington.
I don't recall much of the drive east on Interstate 74 because I was hung over. Alas, the guy riding shotgun slapped me upside the head and said "Detlef, we're here!" I exited the car and yelled "BOGGLE!" We were not in Bloomington but in Crawfordsville, home of Wabash College. My crew wanted to visit Wabash College so we walked around campus. But my stomach started making odd noises, so we went to a cafeteria. We seemed out of place wearing orange, but the cafeteria lady was quite pleasant. "Where are you boys from?" she asked. We told her that we were going to the football game at Indiana. "I hope your team wins. We don't like IU!" she proclaimed. The cinnamon sticks and oatmeal put my tummy at ease.
We hopped back in the car and headed south on U.S. 231. We made another stop in Greencastle, home of DePauw University, alma mater of Dan Quayle. I made a crack about Quayle's golf exploits which did not sit well with the DuPage County Young Republicans who comprised my posse. We then headed to Bloomington. Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the Indiana campus. We visited Assembly Hall but did not find Bob Knight to ask "What's up Knight?"
Scott Weaver made his first Big 10 start for Illinois. The teams traded early field goals. In the second quarter, Indiana was at the Illinois 15-yard line. But Kevin Hardy rescued Illinois, sacking Chris Dittoe and forcing a fumble. Illinois went on the offensive. On third and eight at the Indiana 35, Weaver eluded a heavy pass rush and threw to Robert Holcombe who broke tackles for the first down. Weaver then threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to George McDonald, completing a 64-yard drive. Sadly, Indiana then responded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Dittoe to Ajamu Stoner (Indiana's first touchdown pass of the season!) to tie the score at 10 at halftime. Dittoe sprained his left ankle in the first half and did not return.
Early in the third quarter, the Illinois defense forced another turnover. Dennis Stallings (East St. Louis) intercepted Adam Greenlee and returned the interception 33 yards. Three plays later, Weaver threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ty Douthard (5 catches for 52 yards) for a 17-10 lead. The defense did the rest and Illinois had a Big 10 road win. Weaver finished 16 of 28 passing for 213 yards. "I played well, but I had some boneheaded plays." This included three interceptions and missing on some audibles. Freshman Steve Havard (Wheaton North), who thought he would redshirt, ran 13 times for 50 yards. "I went in with the mindset of it being just like practice."
However, the offense managed only 71 yards and two first downs on its last six drives. One drive ended in a missed field goal and the other was an interception. The game continued an embarrassing streak of 15 quarters where the offense failed to score a touchdown after a punt or kickoff. Despite that, the defense continued to play with confidence, forcing four Indiana turnovers. Kevin Hardy had a great game: six solo tackles, four assisted tackles and three sacks. "As long as we have a lead, we feel like the game is in our hands. We're still not where we want to be, but we'll take any win we can get," commented Hardy. We went to Kilroy's and toasted Paul Schudel and his innovative offense.
Sources: "So who needs an offense? Illinois wins 3d straight" by Andrew Gottesman. Chicago Tribune: October 8, 1995. "Freshman gives Illini another running threat" by Andrew Gottesman. Chicago Tribune: October 8, 1995. Credit to Detlef's parents for the research.