*This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.*
I feel like these have already been covered this week, but like everything else, there is always room in the comments for your favorite moments. I am always interested in the moments before my time, but I also know that unless you go back to the Griese-Phipps era there aren't a lot of great Purdue football moments before the Tiller Era. For this part I will be borrowing heavily from my Best Wins of the Tiller Era series that I wrote two years ago. I do this because I really can't expand on my thoughts any more than I did then. These six moments were the best that I can remember:
6. The Notre Dame ass-whipping - October 2, 2004 - It took over 30 years and three straight heartbreaks, but man did winning in South Bend feel good. Not only did Purdue win, they delivered a thorough ass-whipping that was a long time coming. There is not a Purdue fan out there that doesn't like this. Shoot, there aren't a lot of college football fans period that weren't cheering for us on this day. My favorite highlight is Taylor Stubblefield's 97 yard touchdown catch that really got the rout going. Watch the Fighting Irish assistant coaching throwing a hissy-fit about the fist pump as if it is going to make a difference.
Run, Taylor, Run.
5. The Miracle in the Metrodome - September 29, 2001 - It looked hopeless. Purdue was down three, on its own three yard line, with no timeouts and 19 seconds left. It wasn't impossible, merely difficult. Brandon Hance completed a 27 yard pass to John Standeford that stopped the clock to move the chains, as did a 39 yard pass to Taylor Stubblefield. The good news is that we were within field goal range. The bad news is that one second was left, we still had no timeouts, and Stubblefield went down in bounds. Somehow we ran the field goal unit on the field while they moved the chains and snapped the ball as soon as the clock was signaled. Travis Dorsch nailed the 48 yard field goal, and we went on to beat the Golden Gophers 35-28 in overtime. There have been some crazy wins I have seen, but this was probably the most unlikely.
Glen Mason at his finest.
4. "Don't Dorsch it!" - October 7, 2000 - The first half of this game was hard to watch. Michigan had the ball four times and scored four times. Our defense arrived at halftime and allowed us to pull within two points at 31-29, but we had Travis Dorsch. At this point in his history Dorsch was more known for missing big kicks than making them. Sure enough, he missed from 32 yards with about two minutes left. The defense got Drew Brees the ball back and we moved to roughly the same spot in the field. With eight seconds left I turned to the fans around me and said, "We're going on this field to either celebrate a great win or kick his ass for missing another field goal." He squeezed it inside the left upright for the first of four magical wins that sent us to Pasadena.
I still don't see how he made this.
3. The Drive - December 29, 1998 - We should have beaten Kansas State in the 1998 Alamo Bowl by three touchdowns. Instead, we had two huge mistakes on punts that gave them 13 points. Despite dominating them for the entire game and absolutely owning Heisman runner-up Michael Bishop we fell behind with 1:24 remaining. Kansas State finally led 34-30, and if you watch the tape you can't help but smile in anticipation with the Kansas State players woofing and hollering like it was all over on the sidelines.
As coach Snyder said, It was the culmination of three weeks of disappointment for Kansas State Wildcats fans.
Enter Drew Brees. The sequence above doesn't even do it justice. I can't even give it justice with words except to say this was the greatest multi-play drive in Purdue football history. Kansas State was silent the rest of the night. FYI, this game is on the Big Ten Network On Demand this month.
2. "Hey, he's got the ball!" - September 13, 1997 - At the time, the situation was shocking. Purdue was leading Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. None of us could believe what we were seeing. Then, it got even crazier with 8:50 left to play. On second and five from the Notre Dame 39 Ron Powlus dropped back to pass. Pressure forced him out of the pocket, but he had some running room in front of him so he took off. As he got back to the line of scrimmage he got hit from behind by Rosevelt Colvin and went down. From our seats in section 22 it looked like a sack, so we started jumping up and down thinking it was now third and long. A stop on the next play would give us the ball back and a chance to run out the clock.
The moment that changed Purdue football
It took me about 2 or 3 seconds, but I noticed the play was still going on. Adrian Beasley was running down the field with a convoy behind him, and the following slowly dawned on me and Brian (my brother-in-law) at the same time. "Wait a minute... He has the ball! Beasley has the ball and he might score. HOLY SH** BEASLEY'S GONNA SCORE!!!!!! WE'RE GOING TO BEAT THESE GUYS!!!!"
I don't think I fully got it until Beasley was at about the ten. Since the pessimism had not been thoroughly burned out of us my brother-in-law and I started looking for the flag. Surely there was a flag. Never mind that Tharon (his brother) was screaming his head off. There was no flag, and Shane Ryan lined up to kick the extra point to make it 21-10. Purdue would go on to grab a program-changing 28-17 win that also signaled Notre Dame's demise.
1. Brees to Morales - October 28, 2000 - As I said earlier this week, if another Purdue fan tells you this is not their favorite moment they are lying. I mean come on. This is the signature play, from the best player in the best game according to what I have been writing all week. Are we really surprised? Brees had just thrown the worst pass of his career and Ohio State returned the interception down to the two to set up the go ahead touchdown.
After the kickoff we took over at the Ohio State 36. Brees tried to go to Seth Morales on first down over the middle but the pass was batted away. On second down the offensive line gave Brees an eternity to go through his receivers. Mike Doss cheated up and Morales got behind him. He was wide open, so Brees went deep.
Sitting in row five of the student section the ball hung in the twilight air forever. It's the only time in my life I have seen in slow motion at a sporting event. I saw Morales open and I saw the pass would be perfect. I knew that if we were truly Purdue, he would drop it. I begged for him to just catch it as it hung in the air. I didn't care if he fell flat on his face after he caught it because we would at least be in field goal range.
Come on, Seth, just catch the ball, please.
I know I wasn't alone in thinking this. It was almost exactly like Morales' long TD at Wisconsin a week earlier. I think it's the only time I have seen 60,000 people praying simultaneously.
Holy Toledo. It still gives me chills.
I don't remember seeing him go into the end zone. I think I passed out from joy. Drew Brees became a saint in that moment. If he announced he was going to walk across the Wabash after that pass I would have followed him down to the riverbank.There is a good chance that, as you are reading this, I am speaking to The Man himself at his book signing in West Lafayette. A big reason I got up early and drove to West Lafayette for said signing was this play. I don't think Purdue football will ever have such a special moment again unless we somehow win a National Championship.