Known primarily for being a basketball school, many Hoosiers cheerfully welcomed IU’s football success this season. Fans were surprised by the first home game win, ecstatic about the second and over-confident by the third. Signs and banners reading “we want Bama” after a 4-0 season was a little aggressive, but none the less supportive. The football team’s success got students buzzing with excitement and encouraged tailgaters to actually make it into the game.
School pride increased with game day attendance. This pride carried some students all the way to New York City for IU’s first Bowl game in eight years – The Pinstripe Bowl.
The Bowl game was a huge opportunity for the football program to be taken more seriously and legitimately by future competitors, but more importantly, prospective recruits. Many Hoosiers traveled to Yankee Stadium on December 26th for the chance to cheer on the team against Duke. Being a well-known basketball school like IU, Duke brought tough competition and the teams were overall similar in skill. In fact, the teams were so evenly matched that that the game went into overtime. An overtime that could have potentially been followed by a double-overtime.
Fans who watched the game were outraged and downright pissed off. Calling the game “rigged” and “unfair,” fans were unwilling to accept the loss. Sophomore kicker Griffin Oakes missed a 38-yard field goal attempt – Oakes’ season-long record was 51 yards. Had the kick been successful, it would have brought the game to a tie once again, leading the game into a double-overtime. However, the kick was counted as a miss and lead Duke to a Pinstripe Bowl championship by a heartbreaking 3 points. The score was 41-44.
After further review and diverse camera angle shots, it’s argued that Oakes’ kick did in fact make it inside the goal. Oakes’ attempt flew above the right upright but was ruled wide. Oakes protested that it was good, but the kick could not be reviewed and Duke’s players poured onto the field to celebrate. “The ball went beyond the end line over the top of the upright and when that occurs, the play is not reviewable,” crew chief Chris Coyte told a pool reporter. Despite the kicker’s protests, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said that the kick wasn’t good.
Such a controversial kick caused many fans and even players to be confused. “I actually thought he made it,” Duke running back Shaquille Powell said. Because the kick was never reviewed by officials, many fans continue to insist the game should have gone into a double-overtime.
The Hoosiers have not won a Bowl since the 1991 Copper Bowl, but if you ask some Hoosier fans, they tied in the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl.
Indiana ended the season 6-7.
Nevertheless, the Hoosiers played a great game and embraced the opportunity to demonstrate their improvement and skill.
As for next season: we still want Bama.