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MIKE LOPRESTI: At kickoff time, let’s review some interesting anniversaries

August 31, 2018

mike lopresti sportsNow that the football season has exploded like the opening of a fireworks show—the next puntless weekend will be mid-February—we should finalize the anniversary list for the FBS colleges in this state.

Lots of momentous occasions to mark this season at Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Ball State. So we begin.

Five years ago ...

Indiana rolled past Penn State 44-24 in Bloomington. Why honor that day? The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions have met 21 times. Penn State has won 20. That’s why.

10 years ago ...

Who has been in the top 25 most recently—Indiana, Purdue or Ball State? Yep, the Cardinals. Ball State won its first 12 games in 2008 to climb to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll—the only season the school has ever been in the top 25. It’s been 24 years for Indiana, 11 for Purdue. One of Ball State’s 12 wins was a 42-20 mashing of Indiana in Bloomington, its first win ever over a Big Ten opponent.

A decade later, the Cardinals have lost 13 MAC games in a row.

20 years ago ...

Joe Tiller placed his Purdue high-voltage offense in the hands of a young quarterback named Drew Brees. Good idea. Brees threw 39 touchdown passes. No Boilermaker has thrown more in a season before or since. Purdue went 9-4.

25 years ago ...

They called it the Game of the Century when No. 2 Notre Dame hosted No. 1 Florida State. With the hype stacked higher than the Golden Dome, the Irish won 31-24. Seven days later, they were upset by Boston College. They finished 11-1 and No. 2 in the polls —behind Florida State, the team they beat. The voters never forgave the BC loss. So, when you think about it, the only result that didn’t matter in the final balloting in 1993 was the Game of the Century.

30 years ago ...

Notre Dame went 12-0 for the 1988 national championship, the signature moment being the famous 31-30 victory over No. 1 Miami in South Bend, forever known as the Catholics vs. Convicts game. Anyone still have the T-shirt? It was the 11th national title for the Irish. None since.

One week before Notre Dame-Miami came something not as nationally significant but possibly more startling, 200 miles south. Indiana beat Ohio State 41-7. The series kinda went downhill for the Hoosiers after that. Indiana is 0-24-1 against the Buckeyes since that glorious day.

40 years ago ...

Subzero wind chill in the Cotton Bowl. Flu-ridden Joe Montana kept in the locker room at halftime, being spooned chicken soup. Notre Dame down to Houston 34-12 with little more than seven minutes left. And here came Montana. You might know the rest. A Montana-to-Kris Haines touchdown pass at 0:00 made it 35-34—and cemented a legend.

50 years ago ...

Purdue went to Columbus as the No. 1 ranked team, with the leading Heisman contender in Leroy Keyes. Not a good trip. The Buckeyes held Keyes to 19 yards in seven carries (goodbye, Heisman), and shut out the Boilermakers 13-0 (goodbye, Rose Bowl). “The greatest defensive effort I ever saw,” Woody Hayes said afterward. That was the last game Purdue played as the top-ranked team. Ohio State ended up the national champions.

60 years ago ...

Indiana 15, Purdue 15 in West Lafayette. The sixth—and final—tie in the Old Oaken Bucket series.

70 years ago ...

Clyde Smith took over for Bo McMillin as coach at Indiana, and the Hoosiers went 2-7. Seven decades later, McMillin remains the last coach with a winning career record in Bloomington. Fourteen men have had the job since.

75 years ago ...

Quarterback Angelo Bertelli became the first Notre Damer to win the Heisman, even though he played only six games before the Marines called him to active duty for World War II. He went from the Irish backfield to the battle of Iwo Jima. Notre Dame produced six of the first 30 Heisman winners, but none the past 30 years.

100 years ago ...

A one-paragraph story at the bottom of page 12 of The New York Times announced Notre Dame had hired a new football coach—an assistant who studied pharmacy at the school. The article mentioned his name as Knut K. Rockne and added that the decision was “popular with both students and faculty.” Eventually, they’d get the name spelled right.

Happy anniversary, Knut; happy anniversary to them all.•

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Lopresti is a lifelong resident of Richmond and a graduate of Ball State University. He was a columnist for USA Today and Gannett newspapers for 31 years; he covered 34 Final Fours, 30 Super Bowls, 32 World Series and 16 Olympics. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mjl5853@aol.com.

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