A frosty Sam Adams Octoberfest Ale is sitting on my desk as I write this. It is tasting pretty sweet after one of the best days of the college football season. Consider the following:
- Indiana continued its fall from an almost certain bowl, losing 31-28 to Wisconsin to drop to 4-6.
- My wife's Hurricanes rolled at home against Virginia 52-17.
- Navy gets its second win in two years, both at Notre Dame Stadium, beating the Irish 23-21. That makes Jimmy Montana 1-2 against the vaunted Midshipmen after his predecessors were 43-0. So how is that Heisman campaign, Jimmy? The six BCS conferences (and maybe TCU and Boise State) now have $14 million reasons to thank Navy.
- Finally, you have the crown jewel of the day. Purdue goes and wins at Michigan Stadium for the first time in 43 years. They also beat Ohio State and Michigan in the same season for just the third time ever.
So many streaks ended today. An 11 game road losing streak, tied for the longest active streak in the nation with Utah State, is done. The 17 game losing streak in Ann arbor is done. Ralph Bolden's streak of being held down is done. While I am not happy with Hope's actions after the game, there are so many positives to take from this game.
Finally, we responded to adversity in Ann Arbor.
Finally, the defense held in a critical road game.
Finally, we beat Michigan at Michigan.
Positives from today's game:
Cortez Smith - I wanted to begin by talking Cortez' play from the start. Here is a guy that hadn't been given much of an opportunity all year. He had just 30 yards receiving before today. He earned his reps in practice though by being able to catch the football after so many drops last week. His four catches then were absolutely huge. He had a big first down on the opening drive that set up a score. He had another first down catch on the touchdown drive before the onside kick. He then caught probably the first deep ball of the season to give us the lead for good. Here is a guy that hadn't done much all season, but when called upon today he responded.
Brandon King - He made the play of the day. When he batted down the option pitch and recovered that big fumble just after halftime it turned the game entirely in our favor. He almost picked it up and scored himself. Just a huge play.
Gary Nord and Danny Hope - In a word, Stones. Twice they went for the jugular after a turnover (Bolden's run after the fumble and the Cortez Smith TD). The onside kick was a thing of genius. It was a high risk, but we caught the Wolverines with their pants down, then made them pay.
Joey Elliott - Elliott joins the list of Drew Brees and Jim Everett on the list of Purdue quarterbacks that have beaten Ohio State and Michigan in the same season. Elliott also added to the degree of difficulty by grabbing one of the two on the road. Everett beat both at Ross-Ade in 1984, while Brees did the same in 2000. He did it today by throwing for a career high in yardage and having really just one bad throw (the first INT). Imagine how much better things would have been without the drops. This will be the only season we have Joey as a starter and it is a shame. He is definitely worthy of being in the Cradle of Quarterbacks. It is even better because he picked himself up after such a bad outing last week. This is not even talking about his running ability. Elliott has that presence of knowing when to tuck and run the ball. That is what we need in a QB.
Ralph Bolden - The countdown toward a thousand yard season is back on. I felt that Ralph was thinking too much last week. It seems like he has been trying to make an extra move of late instead of attacking. Today he attacked and kept our offense two dimensional. Both touchdown rushes were runs in which he attacked, but was patient behind his blockers. The TD catch was on a similar play to Jaycen Taylor's TD against Notre Dame, so that is a deadly play.
Ryan Kerrigan - He made maybe the play of the year on the 2-point conversion sack. If we make a bowl game it is because Ryan Kerrigan owned Ohio State and Michigan. Please pass on what you have learned so you can keep the Den of Defensive Ends going.
Jeff Lindsay and Kyle Adams - The tight ends need a hearty butt touch today. Adams' had a drop that turned into an INT, but for the most part both of these guys had their best games of the season. They kept drives going and Lindsay's big catch and run set up the final score.
The officials - Thank you for getting the call on the forward lateral right. That is why you are good officials. You screwed the pooch by calling a penalty on the 45 yard line for tripping that cost us a fumble recovery on a punt, but you made the right call at the end of the game. It let us kill more clock and stopped me from breaking my TV.
Chris Summers - The kid has been maligned all year, but he had several good punts today (even if the coverage was bad on the second to last one). His rugby style punt was huge in the end game. Chris needs some credit. I know he hasn't been the best all the time, but he has had his moments. We have to learn to take the good with the bad. Today Chris was very good. He even handled kicking out of the end zone well.
The defense - in terms of hidden plays, their effort before Michigan's final TD was huge. Michigan began on the 11 yard line, yet the defense made the Wolverines take five plays (and precious time) off the clock to score. They weren't the best all day, but that was a hidden play that ended up being very big.
Jason Olesnavage - Thank you for missing that extra point, making Michigan go for 2 late. It was almost an exact reverse of the Oregon game.
Negatives from today's game:
Danny Hope - There are already camps forming in terms of opinion on his behavior after the game. Please put me in the negative camp. Michigan is always going to out-recruit us. They are MICHIGAN. They have been the class of the Big Ten for a century or so. Please don't do anything to piss them off. This is one of the most petty arguments in the history of coaching. Reckman was rightfully suspended for his incident, so what does it matter that another coach pointed it out. Just do the handshake and get off the field. Don't say something petty that will only piss off the other team.
The first half defense - This game was a lot like the 2000 game against Michigan in that we showed no interest in stopping them in the first half, but played a virtually lights out second half. We also made Michigan pay for a big turnover. Unfortunately, poor tackling made this game a lot more heart-wrenching than it should have been.
Roy Roundtree - Well, we're this guy's bitch for three more years.
The Michigan State game has meaning. A win there means we are playing IU to keep the bucket and go to an unexpected bowl. If the Hoosiers upset Penn State in Happy Valley it becomes a bowl play-in game. Winner goes, loser stays home.
Fans, if you live within 3 hours of West Lafayette and have nothing to do next Saturday, please come to Ross-Ade Stadium. Give these seniors and this team a great home crowd for the final game of the season. Come and be loud. Come and act like fools for three and a half hours. Come and just stand there wearing gold and black. Just come and support this team in what could be one of the biggest home games in years.
This team is not going to win the national championship. In fact, any bowl game we qualify for will get a standard highlight package on ESPN, then be forgotten. If it does make a bowl, especially after such a poor start, it lays the foundation for a huge step forward for the entire program. This is like the 2007 basketball team breaking through and getting an NCAA berth behind David Teague and Carl Landry. They didn't win the title, but they set the stage for the future.
I have come to love this team. They haven't had the most talent. They haven't performed the best at times, but they have played their hearts out all season long. Think about it. They could have folded at 1-5 with #7 Ohio State coming to town. Instead, we still have something to play for with two games left. This team has the biggest heart of any Purdue team in recent years, and that is why I love them. I will miss the seniors, as they are instilling a never quit attitude in the underclassmen that will pay huge dividends.
This team deserves your support next week. You can sit in the South End Zone for $22. You can get four regular seats for $100. That is a $21 discount off of the regular price if you're in the main seating bowl. Find three friends and come to the game. Come send them off right at home. They have fought all season long, so now let's fight for them by turning Ross-Ade into a true home field advantage.