Game 188: #16 Illinois @ Indiana

“Hoosier Football” are two words that go together about as well as “Lite Syrup” or “Economic Stability.” Combine one bowl in 17 years and six different head coaches in the same time span. Add to it a 45 year Big Ten title drought and you have the Indiana football program. Memorial Stadium in Bloomington has been recently expanded, which just means more empty seats. We got to the stadium early and stood in the expanded horseshoe area attempting to catch a few pregame practice kicks that lofted high enough to land in the stands.

While overlooking a slowly filling stadium, I reminded myself that support for the Hoosiers certainly exists enough to sell out “The Rock” week after week. But, why pay for incessant frustration? However, a hot day in southern Indiana brought forth a good crowd to see if an upset over the undefeated Illini could be witnessed. The Marching Hundred entertained a hopeful crowd and the Hoosiers emerged to a plume of pyrotechnics. The explosions continued as Shane Winn returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a shocking Indiana score. The moment would have to be savored because three 60+ yard TD plays would highlight the remainder of the half for Illinois helping to move their record to 6-0.

Bloomington is a classic college town, and pregame festivities and tailgating rivals other venues in the conference. Memorial Stadium is set up to be a top football atmosphere, but when the most exciting football action in the stadium is coming from the kiddie play area, it’s challenging to develop. “The Quarry,” Indiana’s student section, began to drain in the third quarter as did the rest of the crowd. A fluttering abandoned sign reading “The Real Memorial Stadium” lost its validity as Illinois closed out a 21 point victory. With three Memorial Stadiums in the Big Ten, it would take a big program turnaround for this one to rise to the top.


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