After my last Purdue football game I attended, I realized this next Nebraska vs Purdue game would be my 50th. I looked at my spreadsheet in which I keep track of just the games and realized that could only remember a little of some of the first games. I decided to write something of a memoir while I could remember what I do now. Mostly it is for my records, but I decided to share it with H&R as you might find it interesting if you have been to some of the same games as I or have similar type game memories yourself. I did change the names to be more descriptive (instead of saying "Dave" it says "my brother"). It is kind of long and it is a little different than most of the posts on here, but I hope a few of you may enjoy it.
I joke that when I moved down to Purdue we drove to Cary Quad from the north I looked up at the stadium and said, "Oh, we have a football team?" I had heard my grade school classmate brag about his brother scoring a touchdown for Purdue (who is now the GM of the Colts) and I read an article about the Old Oaken Bucket in the Hammond Times when I was in High School, but I had never watched a game. I had seen a couple of Notre Dame games, but college football didn’t peak my interest back then. The girlfriend I had my freshman year was very fluent in Purdue football as her mom’s boyfriend was a professor at Purdue-Calumet and had attended many games. So I bought season tickets. They were only $60 total back then and I wasn’t going to have her go to the games without me.
Game 1: 9/21/1996 vs West Virginia
The first Purdue game I went to was a night game. In fact, it was the only night game Purdue had the whole time I was a student there. I remember it feeling like a High School football game. I was in awe at seeing Gene Keady and his wife walking ahead of us as we exited the stadium on outside along the pressbox side. It made me more excited about the basketball season then the next home football game.
Game 2: 9/28/1996 vs North Carolina St
I don’t remember much about this game. It was my first day game and the first game I went to that Purdue won. I think it is the first game I tailgated. I didn’t care much for my girlfriend’s mom’s tailgates. It was usually cold food and no beer. I remember I’d rather get back to the Cary Quad dining hall and get a make-it-yourself pizza.
Game 3: 10/5/1996 vs Minnesota
I do remember a lot about this game. It was the first Big Ten conference game and my parents and brothers came out to this game. We sat where it was not crowded in the student section around the 10 yard line. Back then the stadium didn’t even get close to filling up when a non-popular team came to town. The north endzone seats were deserted as you could see the whole Purdue spelled out in the seats. It was a close game and against a school I have heard of before.
Game 4: 10/19/1996 vs Ohio St
This game finally felt like a big college football game. The game was sold out and the north endzone seats were full of people wearing red and grey. Those fans were load too. Ohio St looked huge going out on our field. For the most part, the game was exciting. After the first quarter we were up 14-0. At halftime the score was 14-14. We ended up losing 14-42. So, the game ended up being a blowout, but I did love the atmosphere with the full stadium. After the game, while cold tailgating, was the first time I experienced the rude behavior of the Ohio St fans. They were arrogant, drunk, and belligerent. They had blown out a bad Purdue team, yet they acted like they had just won the championship. As the years have gone on I have found that this is regular behavior of the Ohio St fans.
Game 5: 11/9/1996 vs Michigan
This came sooner than I expected. My thought was that sometime we would upset Michigan, Ohio St, or Penn St and I would be there at the best Purdue game during my college years. We did it on this day. It was a very low scoring game and, after, I celebrated on the field for the first and only time. At the time it seemed like this would be the best game I would ever see Purdue play. Obviously I had no clue that this would be a drop in the bucket compared to the teams Purdue would have the years after this.
Game 6: 11/23/1996 vs Indiana
It was my first Old Oaken Bucket game and we had to give it away at the end. My girlfriend’s sister, who was an IU student, came to the game with us. My first words to her were, "Are you sure you want to wear that bright red sweatshirt to the game?" We also sat in the student section which ended up with her getting plummeted with boos, obscenities, and a water bottle. I remember going to sit in the alumni section and as the game was winding down some IU guy was leaving and was shouting to the crowd that they will be a powerhouse for years to come with their new coach next year, Cam Cameron. That worked out well. Hell, it’s been 18 years and I’m still waiting to see a powerhouse down in Bloomington.
I wasn’t seeing that girl anymore and none of my friends were interested in going to the football games. I decided to get season tickets anyway and hope that I could find someone to go to the games with me.
Game 7: 9/13/1997 vs Notre Dame
To be honest, I didn’t expect us to even compete in this game. I was still unsure of Tiller and dismayed that we didn’t get Bob Davie, who was coaching against us this game. This was the game that defined the rest of the football seasons during my college years. We won, and from now on we were not a pushover team at the bottom of the Big Ten, we were a real college football team. Unfortunately, for me, it was one of the most difficult games to attend. I was still brooding because I wasn’t with that girl anymore and I couldn’t find anyone to go with to that game. I sat in my ticketed seat and maybe hoped to connect with some of the students there. Instead, I felt awkward. It was like I was the loser who had no friends while all the other groups of students ignored me while we cheered for the same team. I left at halftime. I still watched the rest of the game on TV and I was a lot more comfortable across the street in my room then at the game.
Game 8: 9/20/1997 vs Ball St
I was saved from loneliness in the stands by my mom, uncle, and cousins going with me to this game. My mom and uncle are both alumni of Ball St, so it was fun for them to come out for this one. After the game I was able to show them around our campus. My two little cousins were in grade school and they saw a college campus for the first time, but my recruiting efforts were for not as they went to rival Big Ten schools Iowa and Indiana.
Game 9: 10/18/1997 vs Wisconsin
I missed the Northwestern game by taking a trip back home for that weekend, but I’d thought I’d try again by myself at this game. The games were selling out at Ross-Ade now, so it was hard for anyone who didn’t get season tickets to get a cheap ticket. The experience was about the same at the ND game. I believe I left even before halftime. Without anyone to go with, it was just better for me to watch on TV. Anyway, there were plenty of people to watch the game with on TV across the street at the dorm. I missed the last two home games too. By that time I either had more fun watching them with friends on TV or had better things to do. I decided if I get season tickets again, I would have to have at least one person that would go with me to games.
Still hadn’t found anyone to regularly go to the games with me. I decided not to get season tickets this year as I had missed a half the games last year. I did manage to make it to a couple games.
Game 10: 9/19/1998 vs Central Florida
My mom came with another uncle and aunt to watch this game. My cousin was participating in band day as she was a flag waver for her high-school. My uncle was here years ago when he went to games with my other uncle who was a student here. The students back then would take a dummy and have it crowd-surf (not the word he used) up the stands and throw it over when it got to the top. I guess it would scare a bunch of people. This was my only game out of the 50 that I sat in the south end zone. This was also my first game where I saw our new starting quarterback, Drew Brees. Daunte Culpepper started for UCF, so it was also my first game with 2 future starting NFL quarterbacks playing.
Game 11: 11/21/1998 vs Indiana
I know I went to this game. I remember my friend who had graduated came back to campus and we all went to the game. I have my used ticket stub from this game, but for the life of me I cannot remember anything at all about this game. We kept the bucket, and by the looks of the score it wasn’t a very interesting game as we blew them out 52-7. I do remember my friend parking in an empty residence hall lot for a short time so he can get us and follow him out to a "legal" parking lot and drive him back. He got a parking ticket.
By this time I did have a group of people to go see games with and bought season tickets again. I didn’t have to attend all the games with them in case I had someone come to town, but I almost always had a seat saved for me if I needed it. This year I finally felt good again about attending all the games I could get to.
Game 12: 9/11/1999 vs Notre Dame
I got to this game a little late and the stands were packed. I couldn’t find my friends, but I did find my friend’s brother. So, I hung out with him the whole game. This game was hot. The sun just beats down on you in the student section all game long. This game has been replayed on the Big Ten Network many times and is famous for ND screwing up at the end of the game and letting time run out when they are at the 1 yard line. I remember this game for the party my friends threw at their apartment later that night. It finally got busted at around 3 in the morning by some cops bursting in and threatening to arrest all the underage drinkers. Good times…
Game 13: 9/18/1999 vs Central Michigan
As you may be aware of, even in good years there are games where students just don’t care to show up at. I am the type that would go to every game, but my friends didn’t want to waste their time watching us blow out the MACnation. So this ended up being the last game I went to by myself. I lived across the street, so I didn’t have to go very far. Plus, I don’t think it was even on TV. This was much easier to be at as the game was not even close to selling out. I could sit by myself up in the stands and relax. Well, sort of relax, it was hot and Purdue started blowing them out pretty early. I left, maybe after the first quarter?
Game 14: 9/25/1999 vs Northwestern
My uncle, who is a Purdue alumnus, came into campus for this game. He lives in California and had not been back since he graduated in the middle 70’s. Everyone who has not been back to Purdue in decades find the campus almost unrecognizable. He wondered where all the tunnels were. I guess there is a bunch of tunnels under Purdue that are not used anymore for safety reasons. He hung out with me and a couple of friends at the bars on Friday. We went to Where Else and Pete’s for some beers. That night is memorable for me because it was the first night I ever had a buffalo wing. My uncle had a craving for some chicken wings and I had no idea where to go, but my friend knew exactly the place, A.J. Wingers. Since that night wings have been a staple of my diet. At the game the next day we walked around the stadium and sat in a couple different places. We were in the north endzone and had a perfect view of Brees’s record shattering 99 yard touchdown pass.
Game 15: 10/16/1999 vs Michigan St
There hadn’t been a bigger hyped game than this one on campus. Purdue had just come off a couple tough road losses to Ohio St and Michigan. Now, undefeated 4th ranked Michigan St had come to town. That team had Nick Saban as head coach and Plaxico Burress at wide receiver. All I remember is that Purdue dominated the whole game. It wasn’t even close.
Game 16: 10/23/1999 vs Penn St
Welcome to the coldest game of the 49. I remember wearing a heavy coat and being glad to be crowded at the student section trying to keep warm. Looking at the recap it says the temperature was 46 and cloudy, but it doesn’t mention the wind. This would be the first time I participated in a tailgate with a grill before the game. My friends in the Hilltop apartments got use of a grill and we made burgers. This was a tough loss for us. I remember Brees had the ball first and goal with about a minute left in the game and threw 4 incompletions.
Game 17: 11/6/1999 vs Wisconsin
I don’t have a lot of recollection of this game, just a lot of Ron Dayne running all over Ross-Ade. A friend of a friend (not my friend) had drawn a picture on a poster of Ron Dayne with the face of a pig. He then went to the Wisconsin section and walked it up and down the aisles. The usher confiscated his sign.
I did not get season tickets my last semester at Purdue. When I look back I wish I had even though I would have only attended one more game that year. The home schedule was pretty weak that year. We had Central Michigan, Kent St, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio St, and Indiana. Michigan and Ohio St would be reason itself to set season tickets, but I wouldn’t be able to make it to either game. The Michigan game was during fall break and I was going to Vegas with my dad that weekend. The Ohio St game was during the Fundamentals of Engineering test, so unless they scheduled it a night game I wouldn’t be able to make it to that one either. My friends didn’t want to go to the MACnation games so the only ones I would go to was the Minnesota and IU games. I’d figure that would be easy to get tickets to those games. I did go to the Minnesota game, but Purdue was on the verge of the Rose Bowl during the IU game. It was sold out and I couldn’t get a ticket unless I paid a lot of money for it. Funny thing about that, I found out later in life my future wife did go to that Purdue/IU game. It would be cool to say that 7 years before I met my wife we were at the same football game. Although I didn’t go to many games that year, I enjoyed watching that football team play that year more than all the others. I remember watching the close loss to Notre Dame in Hilltop Apartments with my friend. I saw Dorch make that last second field goal in the sports book in the Mirage against Michigan. I made it back to my dorm in time after my test to see "Brees to Morales" and hear the live cheers though my window. I was so hungover I missed the loss to Michigan St the next week (thank God). An then there is, of course, the Rose Bowl which I watched at my parent’s house the day before I moved into my first apartment the week before I started my engineering career.
Game 18: 9/23/2000 vs Minnesota
I don’t remember a damn thing about this game. Probably because I was so busy my last year and I remember so vividly the important games I didn’t go to that I ended up watching on TV.
2001 – 2003
I did not attend any Purdue football games during these three seasons. After graduating, I wasn’t looking for an excuse to get back there. I visited campus at other times hanging out with old friends, stopping to eat at Jake’s coming home from a roadtrip, and attending an engineering seminar. I did still follow the team and watched most of the games on TV. When I moved to Elkhart in 2003, my Purdue grad friend and I would hang out at Wings Etc in Mishawaka almost every Saturday to watch the games.
2004 – now
Getting me back to the games started out with my new friend who had grown up in Ohio. He suggested going to the Purdue/Ohio St game in 2004. When single session tickets went on sale, I called the ticket office. Since the Purdue/Michigan game had not sold out yet either, I picked up a pair of those tickets too. I then had a couple of other opportunities to go to games pop up too. This year is when I discovered tailgating. I had done it a little in the past, but usually to poor results. There was just something about cracking open a cold beer early in the morning while getting my charcoal grill ready to cook some burgers. These days some of the games I look forward to the tailgating more than I look forward to the game.
Game 19: 9/11/2004 vs Ball St
My first game back was suggested by my uncle, the same one who I went with in game 8 and graduated from Ball St. He had bought a cottage on one of the lakes near Monticello. So we hung out there that weekend and went to the game. We parked near the co-rec and started drinking some beers we packed in a cooler. This is when I first realized that tailgating is a lot of fun. People had grills out making food, games being played, and just hanging out relaxing before the game. This occurred to me that I could easily do this, and I would probably really enjoy it. The game itself was a big blowout. It was very hot and sunny and I ended up wearing my Purdue basketball jersey which resulted in some wicked sunburn. This was also my first game in the renovated Ross-Ade. The concourse seemed a lot bigger and it was nice having concession stands and added bathrooms on the outside of the concourse. The new pressbox really towered over the field now making it look like a real college football stadium.
Game 20: 10/2/2004 @ Notre Dame
My Purdue grad friend in the area ended up getting some free tickets to this game from his vendor. This was my first Purdue away game. We just parked in a pay parking lot on a street with a bunch of restaurants and bars and had to walk through all the Notre Dame people tailgating and hanging out outside the stadium. Because most of the fans are townies instead of alumni, the fans are drunker and cruder to the visiting team fans. While we were walking, some hoodlum covered in green paint and dressed as a leprechaun ran up to us and started babbling and laughing while doing some weird dance. The game was great. Kyle Orton threw the ball all over the stadium as we blew them out in South Bend for the first time in like a hundred years. No one bothered us on the walk back to the car. This game started the tradition of me attending the Purdue game at Notre Dame every other year.
Game 21: 10/23/2004 vs Michigan
This is the game the week after the Purdue/Wisconsin fiasco nicknamed "The Fumble." Had I known that Purdue and Wisconsin were going to be ranked 5 and 10, I would have bought tickets to that game instead of this one. But, there was still a lot of energy in the stadium as Purdue was looking to bounce back. I took my dad to this game and it was my first tailgate where I was planning it. First rule of tailgating: get there early! An hour before kickoff is not really enough time. We quickly cooked up the brats and chicken while downing a few beers. I think we walked in around the middle of the first quarter. When I look back at this tailgate it was pretty crude. I don’t think we even brought chairs. Probably just had charcoal, a grill, lighter fluid, food, beer, and maybe some napkins. It was a pretty cold game and a disappointing outcome. Another late turnover prevented another Purdue win.
Game 22: 11/6/2004 @ Iowa
My cousin was a student at Iowa so my Uncle, who I went to the Ball St game with, asked me if I wanted to go visit him and attend the Iowa/Purdue game. We drove out to Iowa City on a clear Friday night and stayed at my cousin’s frat house. Although the house was large, it had been trashed. There were only about 5 guys living there. Although there were many empty rooms with questionable looking mattresses on the floor, I crashed on my cousin’s futon. The tailgate the next day was quite the opposite. Most of the fraternity lived off campus and many alumni came out to party. They deep fried a turkey and we had plenty of beer. Purdue has similar colors to Iowa, so my Purdue gear blended in well. I did get a couple of Iowa fans shouting at me their dislike of my school, but they were pretty friendly about it. Unlike the Notre Dame game earlier, I did not see one other Purdue fan either at the tailgate or the game. What I remember about Iowa’s stadium is that it reminded me of Ross-Ade before the renovations. The bowl of the stadium went all the way around unlike Ross-Ade which ends in the south end zones. Orton was hurt that game and Brandon Kirsch started. We had a chance to win it in the final drive but time ran out before Purdue could get into field goal range. Iowa City was neat to visit. It is like West Lafayette without the Lafayette. The whole downtown of Iowa City is college stores and bars. Imagine if Chauncy Hill was blocks and blocks long (Although since I was a student they have developed the levee area and it looks similar to what they have in Iowa City).
Game 23: 11/13/2004 vs Ohio St
My Ohio St friend and I went to this game. It was a 2:30 game so we had plenty of time to get there early. The grill was set up, the beer was being drunk, and we brought out the bocce ball. At that time in my life my friends and I were really in to bocce ball. I even went to a tournament one time by a lake in Michigan. It was the perfect sport to do while having a beer in hand. We pretty much played bocce ball the whole time during the tailgate, against ourselves and with other people we had just met joining in. We were even late for the game. There were probably the worst seats I had ever had in Ross-Ade. We were in the east section way past the south endzone. I remember having to turn my head the whole time and try to look over people especially when the ball was near the north endzone. This resulted in me exclusively getting tickets in the north endzone for the next couple of years. Orton came back in the 4th quarter and led us to another win of many over Ohio St in West Lafayette. After the game my friend and I walked to Jake’s to get some oven sandwiches before the drive home.
Game 24: 10/1/2005 vs Notre Dame
This was one of my most anticipated football games/tailgates. My dad had gotten us tickets from leftover tickets from a bus trip at in his hometown. I went with my Purdue grad friend as well as my other friend who was a Notre Dame fan. It was a night game so we had plans for all day tailgating. We had brought along a TV and a Playstation and planned to play NCAA football powered by the sockets from the back of my friend’s SUV. But, the car didn’t have enough power to make either of them work, even with the car running. We spent the afternoon and evening in the co-rec lot grilling both lunch and dinner as well as participating in many games of bocce ball and cornhole. This night game was the first since my first Purdue game and was looking like a brilliant showdown between a #22 Purdue (while being as high as #11 last week) vs a #13 Notre Dame. But, the game sucked. Kirsch didn’t have his best game and even a freshman Curtis Painter came in for some snaps at the end. It was my first Purdue loss to ND out of 4 games. The sad part is after witnessing them winning the first 3 I will end up going to go to 5 more Purdue losses to ND after this one. Tough times for a fun day.
Game 25: 9/16/2006 vs Ball St
Game 25 was going to be the Miami(OH) game two weeks earlier. I planned on taking my little brother from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program I had joined last year. He was in high school, so when I went to pick him up at 8 in the morning, no one answered the door as he was still asleep. Not a big deal as he ended up coming over to watch the game at my house later in the day and grilled the food we were planning to take to the game that day. So we ended up making it to this one two weeks later. I had called an hour before I picked him up this time, so he was up when we left. This would be the last Purdue tailgate game to this date in which I had consumed no alcohol as BBBS frowns upon getting plastered in front of your little. As well as the bocce, we brought a table and played chess and Uno. I bought ticket from a Purdue employee selling unsold tickets around the tailgate. They were something like $50 tickets and I think I gave him $40 for two. The game was a typical Purdue over Ball St blowout. We left early so I could show my little the campus and share stories of all the "studying" I did in my time there.
Game 26: 9/30/2006 @ Notre Dame
At this point I was working for a large company in Elkhart and knew a lot of people that were planning to tailgate at the game. I had another Purdue grad friend and we decided to go. The plan was to go from tailgate to tailgate and drink and eat as much as we could. Then we would walk around the stadium and maybe buy some face-value tickets from people selling them right before the start of the game when prices go down. If we couldn’t find decent priced tickets, we would walk back to the bar we parked at and watch it there. We started at a townie salesman’s tailgate. He was more than happy to have us show up. We ate and drank what seemed like hours. After that we went looking for the CFO’s tailgate. He was a ND grad, so they were parked close to the stadium in the parking lot. He fed us some better quality food (I can’t remember what it was, but I do remember it was really fancy for a tailgate) and a couple beers. I remember my friend in shock as seeing nuns in the parking lot eating brats and drinking beer. The last tailgate we went to was "hosted" by an intern. It just consisted of a cooler full of beer and a bunch of dudes standing around it in a circle drinking. After we had a belly full of food and beer we walked to the stadium. If you can picture the ND stadium and figure touchdown Jesus is at 12:00 we started at around 5:00 and went counter-clockwise. There were a couple of people selling tickets, but most were higher than face. At 9:00 there was one person selling 2 at face, but someone else snapped in and we missed it. Finally 5 minutes before gametime and just before 6:00 we got our tickets. This game poured rain around the 2nd quarter/halftime. We were soaked. Miserable weather and another miserable ND game with great tailgating.
Game 27: 11/4/2006 @ Michigan St
My Purdue grad friend and I decided to drive up to Lansing to see Purdue play. Lancing is actually closer to my house than West Lafayette and is pretty much all highways. On the way I had forgotten to pack a lighter for the grill. We stopped at a gas station, picked up a cigarette lighter, and found out later that it is very difficult to light charcoal with a cigarette lighter. We ended up parking in a small park off campus. It wasn’t very crowded and it allowed us to tailgate. There were a bunch of Purdue students tailgating there also who we borrowed a proper lighter off of. We pretty much hung out with them the whole time. It wasn’t until we broke out the football and watched their mad football throwing skills until we figured out they were in the band. The whole band didn’t travel to Lansing that year so they just went to watch the game. We bought tickets for something like $10 off a guy selling them outside the stadium. The stadium seemed very inclosed. There was a big white wall surrounding the field making the field look like it was sunk in the ground. The people there were very nice. I think they had given up on their team that year. It was a close game, Drew Stanton had given up a late interception and Purdue went down the field and kicked a winning field goal.
Game 28: 11/18/2006 vs Indiana
This was an early morning cold tailgate. My ND fan friend and I headed out early in the morning to get to this one. He had family in the Lafayette area and they were planning a big tailgate. We got to the corec fields around 7:00 AM. I remember taking some Blue Moon along. It was definitely easier to drink a sweet wheat beer at 7 in the morning. There was a firepit, cornhole, bocce ball, breakfast casseroles, and plenty of burgers and dogs to eat. Don’t remember much about the game except that we had to win to prevent Indiana from reaching a bowl, which we did. After the game my friend and I walked to the bars and hung out at Brothers (which was the Boiler Room when I was there) to watch the Undefeated Ohio St/Michigan game.
Game 29: 10/6/2007 vs Ohio St
I had planned to go to this game with my friend who is the same Ohio St fan that I went to the last Purdue/Ohio St game. He called me on Thursday before the game and couldn’t make it because he had to work. Luckily, I had started going to lunch with this girl who was a Purdue football fan. She is the same one who was at the Purdue/IU game before they went to the rose bowl and the one that will eventually become my wife. I sent an e-mail and quickly I had found someone to go to the game with me. It was a night game and we got to the game a little later than I planned to. We weren’t able to park in the co-rec fields so it was the first time I tailgated in the airport fields. I was probably on my best behavior for this tailgate. I didn’t drink to many beers and didn’t try to start any fights with the Ohio St fans tailgating around us. The best word to describe the beginning of this game is "electric". Purdue had won the first five games, including a big one the last week against ND. They were ranked 23 while Ohio St was 4. The field looked beautiful under the lights and the crowd was into it. But, then they started playing football. Purdue didn’t score any points until about 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter. That was the last time to this day Purdue was ranked in football. I’ll admit that at the time I really didn’t care.
Game 30: 10/27/2007 vs Northwestern
By this time that girl had officially become my girlfriend and we went to this game with the guy she worked with that introduced us. His daughter was in grad school at Northwestern and her and her fiancé met us at the game to tailgate. I cooked a bunch of burgers and brats for everyone. I also got introduced to some female inspired domestic aspects of the tailgate. We had our own garbage bag, so we didn’t have to search out a trash can everytime to throw stuff away. We had baby wipes which worked well not only after getting grill grease on my hands, but after using the port-a-potties. We were also stocked with extra paper towels, plates, silverware, and cookies. The game wasn’t much of a contest. Purdue handled Northwestern without much drama, to the dismay of our guests. After the game my cousin came out to meet us at the tailgate. She lives in Florida and had a friend who went to Purdue. She came out by a taxi and dressed as an old lady with a diaper on. Obviously she had participated in the breakfast club earlier that day. So we drank some beers with her and gave her a ride back to the place she was staying on our way out.
Game 31: 12/26/2007 vs Central Michigan (Motor City Bowl in Detroit, MI)
This is the first and only bowl game I have ever been to. Purdue has had a lot of bowl games during this time. In school I just didn’t have the money to go. After graduation I was too busy with work and by switching jobs every two years didn’t have the vacation time to leave. The closest I got to go was the 2006 season when they went to Orlando. I was between jobs, so I had time. I also had a Purdue grad friend living down there working for Disney. But, he came up north for Christmas, so I was stuck watching it on TV again. In 2007 I started my own business, so I had all the vacation time I wanted. I told myself I would attend all the bowl games from now on. Well, in 6 (now probably 7) years Purdue has only been to three bowls. I went to this one. In 2011 I had bought tickets on Groupon but got sick and sold them for more than I paid for on StubHub. Last year I had plans to drive to Texas, but I had to get a tube in my ear as my kid had been bringing home all kinds of exotic diseases from daycare.
Deciding to go to this bowl game had been a last minute decision. My girlfriend and I had the day off, but the game was in Detroit and I wasn’t going to drive 6 hours in the snow to get there and back. Finally that morning the weather looked clear and we bought some tickets on Ticketmaster. It was the first time I had ever printed off my own tickets on my own printer. I am still baffled on how they charge for this service when it has to be cheaper than printing them off themselves. It was in Detroit in the winter, so there really weren’t any "festivities" to go to before the game. We got there early and parked right into the garage connecting the stadium. It was neat to see Ford Field. The building was huge and warm. It was the first time I was able to drink a beer during the Purdue game. We has this "posh" couple from Western Michigan sitting right in front of us complaining about people in their seats (the place was practically empty). While the woman was taking her scarf off and the tip went right in my beer. She tried to complain that my beer shouldn’t have been there, but then I showed her it was in a cup holder, so… This was a very long, high scoring game. I had never been to an overtime game, but I was so rooting for the game to end with my 3 hour drive ahead of me. Purdue finally won it at around midnight. With traffic, I didn’t get home till around 4:00.
Game 32: 9/13/2008 vs Oregon
I remember getting up for this game and it was raining like crazy. The weather forecast gave about a 50/50 chance for rain in West Lafayette. My girlfriend and I decided to not bring tailgate stuff. I just packed a cooler with beer and drinks and we headed down. About halfway there it stopped raining. It didn’t rain for the rest of the day. We could have tailgated and were kicking ourselves for not bringing the stuff just incase. We stopped off at that Arby’s in Delphi to get something to eat before the game and after went to Jake’s to get some oven sandwiches after. Our seats were about 20 rows up and seated right behind the band in the north endzone. I do like the band, but I will never sit by them again. There is just too much going on between songs and it is distracting while watching the game. This Oregon team that came to town was just on the verge of becoming the powerhouse they are today. We had a chance to win it with a short last second field goal, but missed. But, this was the first overtime game I had ever been to. It was pretty exciting, but a "pre-suspended for punching an opponent" LaGarrette Blount pounded a TD in to beat our field goal.
Game 33: 9/27/2008 @ Notre Dame
My girlfriend and I had gotten tickets off the ND website this year. The ND website now e-mails me when tickets go on sale, so every other year I have been able to buy tickets to this game instead of trying to find them for sale somewhere. The only tailgate I went to on my third Purdue @ ND game was the one my business partner held. His niece was a cheerleader for ND, so he got a good spot. His son was a freshman at Purdue this year so he and his Purdue friends were also there. I believe out of all the people at the tailgate, my girlfriend and I were the only ones actually going to the game. We had seats in the top row at ND stadium. It was nice up there as we had a lot of space in the newer part. In the older lower bowl the benches are a 2x6 and it seems like you only have enough room per seat for a seven year old girl. No upset this year as Purdue continues to disappoint me against ND. I remember one of Purdue’s TD’s was close and they had to look at the replay. Fans were arguing in the stands on whether they thought it was a TD when I pointed to Jesus and said, "Look! Even Jesus says it was a touchdown." I bet the ND fans never heard that one before.
Game 34: 10/4/2008 vs Penn St
We had a lot of tailgating in this one. My girlfriend’s boss was from Pennsylvania and a Penn St fan, so he and another co-worker met up with us before the game. We hung out, ate, and drank beers. After the game my business partner’s son, who was a freshman, came out with a couple of his friends. I cooked them two packages of hotdogs and some chili. They must have eaten an average of 4 hotdogs each. Good thing I had brought 2 packages. I forget how much your stomach can be a bottomless pit in college. They were also talking about how McDonalds on campus ran a special on mcnuggets every once in a while at 5 cents each. They said when you get to about 40 that you still may be hungry, but you can’t eat any more mcnuggets. There isn’t much I can recall about the game. Purdue was pretty bad that year. It was the last game I went to that was coached by Tiller and it is too bad I didn’t get to see him win for my last game. I had seen him coach from game 7 to game 34 for a total of 28 games. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten to 50 if he hadn’t taken over the team back in 1997. I did have a lot of fun at the first 6, but who knows how many I would have tried to go to if we had losing seasons the next 4 years.
Game 35: 9/5/2009 vs Toledo
This is the year I started getting the ½ season ticket plan. You get 1 non-conference game and 2 Big Ten games. I picked new coach Danny Hope’s first game to attend for the non-con. The trip from Elkhart to Purdue takes around 2 ½ hours. At about an hour into the trip I turned to my wife and said, "Did you bring the tickets?" Our first game as a married couple and we had forgotten the tickets. I had two choices. Either turnaround, go home and get the tickets, and drive back to the game right around the start, or continue on, relax and tailgate, and try to find someone selling cheap tickets at the stadium. I opted for the choice that would get a beer in my belly faster. While tailgating a guy came by selling tickets. He wanted $45 each and I told him I’d give him $30 each. He was offended and put up a big stink about how he could never sell them for that cheap. About 20 minutes later he came by and offered them for $30 each. I pretty much told him to scram. As I circled the stadium before the game, some guy offered me $40 for 2 tickets. I asked for $20 and we settled for $30. Yes, it was a lot of money for us to be able to tailgate, but it was the first game of the season and I was excited to get down there. The game was great. I think Boldin ran for like 200 yards and we completely blew out Toledo. I was thinking this Hope guy may not be too bad.
Game 36: 10/24/2009 vs Illinois
After 36 games I finally got to see all 11 of the Big Ten members. Purdue seemed to avoid Illinois on the schedule the years I have been watching them. We must have checked a thousand times to make sure we had the tickets with us. During the tailgates we often talk to the people around us. Usually they are graduates coming back to campus, or parents who have kids at the school. The couple that was next to us had a son at Purdue. They were from Chicago and the dad was a big dude and had that blue-collar gruff sounding Chicago accent. He was telling me how their son had gotten a partial scholarship and free trips around the USA by joining a club that randomly complements people. They just sit out in front of a post office or store or whatever and just give random people compliments. This dad is telling me about it and I can see he is stressing the part that he gets free money for school and free trips. I’m sure he has come to accept his son’s life choices, but I can imagine the first time this kid called home to tell his dad what he is doing in school. (DAD: You are doing what? To random people? Guys too? I’m paying for you to go down there to learn! You better get your ass back to class and study!) I think his group even did the "Shout!" after the third quarter. Purdue was pumped after upsetting Ohio St the last game. I would have gone to Ohio St game, but I’d seen OSU 3 times already and I HAD to see Illinois. Purdue took care of The Juice this game with ease and I was 2-0 under Coach Hope.
Game 37: 11/14/2009 vs Michigan St
My wife absolutely hates the cold. I like the cold games as I cannot stand it when it is hot. So I started taking my dad to games in November. My wife was on a bus trip with her sister in Chicago anyway, but it has now become a fun tradition to take him to a November game. He was impressed with the upgrade in the tailgating since our first stab at it back on game 21. We had a table, paper towels, plenty of food, and plenty of time. I was really hyped for this game. After suffering 5 losses in a row, we had won the last 3 out of 4 including upset wins over Ohio St and at Michigan. There were two games left and we need to win them both to get to a bowl. The IU game next week was pretty much an automatic win so that left this game. We were up for most of the game and had a lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter. We had scored another TD and then the band did their little goofy song and dance where the student section yelled out "IU sucks" at the end. I guess we should have paid attention to the current team, because Michigan St threw a long TD on the next play and then shut down our offence to come back and win to dash our bowl hopes. Since then, I’ve hated that little song and dance the band does in the 4th. I know IU sucks, I don’t have to say it at every game, the Purdue insignia on my shirt is enough to let everyone know I can’t stand that school down in Bloomie.
Game 38: 9/4/2010 @ Notre Dame
This year at Notre Dame I didn’t have any tailgates to go to. I lost touch with most of the people from my old job and my business partner didn’t go this year. The wife and I decided to just park in the same commercial section we always do and just pack the cooler with some drinks. The wife was knocked up so we had just bought a new SUV and took that to the game. It was cold and windy outside, but calm and warm inside the back of the SUV, so we just hung out back there and I had some beers. We walked to a sandwich stop next door and got some food. This was the birth of the mini-tailgate. If we didn’t want to bring the grill and cook a bunch of food, we would pack a cooler full of drinks and pick up some sandwiches on the way. The game was pretty typical of the Purdue games in South Bend. Purdue played poorly, the refs were biased for ND and the fans were super annoying. We sat in the lower older bowl on the 2x6’s for this one. There was this ND fan college aged girl standing the whole game and complaining to her boyfriend how there wasn’t enough room for her to sit. Poor baby :’(
Game 39: 9/18/2010 vs Ball St
Purdue didn’t run their ½ season ticket special this year and I was pretty pissed at them. I ended up only buying a family four pack and never got around to buying tickets to other games during the season. I took my wife and my parents to this game. It was a fun tailgate, all I had to do was cook and my wife and mom took care of the rest. There was a group of older students next to us. We started talking to them and I noticed they were drinking Keystone Light. When I was in college no one drank Keystone Light. Our cheap beers were Busch Light or Meister Brau, or even Old Milwaukee Light. I wanted to try it so I traded them an Oktoberfest for one of theirs. Both of us decided to stick to our own beers after that. They had only brought beer with them and started to get hungry. After witnessing the college kids gobble up all them hot dogs last year, we had brought an extra package of hotdogs just incase someone came by. I grilled them some hotdogs with barbeque sauce on them. They were well fed before the game. I don’t remember a lot about the game. We pretty much dominate Ball St every year we play them and the games just blend together.
Game 40: 9/3/2011 vs Middle Tennessee St
My wife and I hit the road early on this one. It was going to be a hot game, so we wanted to get the tailgate in before the temperature had risen. I bought this cast iron Purdue skillet over the summer so we brought bacon, eggs, and sausage. It came out perfectly over the charcoal grill. I stopped drinking at around 10:00 and switched to Powerade when it started to get hot. By the time we got to the game it felt like it was 100 degrees in the stadium. It had to be 20 degrees cooler under the stands. After the first quarter we went under the stands to "cool off" for a while. When the second quarter started my wife wouldn’t go back out there yet. I watched about ½ of the second quarter in the stands and then I went back and found my wife and said something like, "It’s too damn hot out here, let’s go." We had actually had rented a room for that night in Lafayette, so we didn’t have to go home or anything. When we got to the hotel the room wasn’t ready yet so we went and got something to eat. I followed the game on my phone. When we did into the room the TV didn’t have the game. I listened to the rest of it on the clock radio in the room. It was OK because we had cranked the air to about 65 degrees. After the game ended, I was relaxing in the hot tub drinking a beer and watching Notre Dame get their butts kicked by Central Florida.
Game 41: 10/8/2011 vs Minnesota
For the life of me I can’t remember the tailgate for this game. I went with my wife and I’m sure we went early and parked in the co rec fields. I drank a bunch of beer and we grilled some brats and burgers or something. I don’t think we talked to anyone unique and nothing crazy happened. We probably went to eat at Jake’s after the game. Even the game was hard to remember. We had blown out Minnesota. It was a hot game and we were still scarred from the 100 degree game, so we left in the 3rd quarter. I think it was the game where everything turned out like I expected it, so nothing really stands out to remember.
Game 42: 11/19/11 vs Iowa
Again, I go to the game after a Hope upset of Ohio St. The only reason I chose this game was because I had now seen every Big Ten team in Ross Ade. I had seen Iowa once before, but it was in Iowa City. My dad went with me to this one as it was in November. I bought this sausage called "Grandpa’s Sausage" at a local deli. It was good sausage and it served for some comic relief as we talked about chewing down on a piece of Grandpa’s Sausage. We were in a little better position for a bowl bid on this one than two years ago. Instead of having to win this game and at IU, we only had to win this game or at IU. So, I wasn’t as upset when Marve fumbled that ball and hit the pylon resulting in a safety and another Purdue loss.
Game 43: 9/8/12 @ Notre Dame
This is my fifth game in a row for Purdue @ ND and the fourth Purdue loss to them here. My wife and I brought her sister, who is a ND fan, to this game. We parked in the back of what looked like a business complex and did a mini-tailgate. We had picked up some sandwiches and I drank a bunch of beers while we sat by ourselves in the parking lot. I could have really used a Purdue win at this game. This was what Notre Dame fans call their "undefeated season" (even though they lost a game, I guess they need better math skills). Purdue had tied the game at the end and the refs let ND get by with an obvious delay of game penalty at the end. I’ve seen so many ND games living out here (rooting against them) and it is obvious how much bias the refs have for ND. One of these days it’s going to be exposed, but it will get swept under the table just like all the other ND scandals.
Game 44: 9/29/2012 vs Marshall
I looked up a place to eat in Rensselaer which is the halfway point from my parent’s house (where we dropped off the kid) and West Lafayette. Since it was a late afternoon game, we would eat there before the game instead of tailgating this time. We get to the place and it is closed, I guess only open for dinner that day. We drive around and everyplace we see is closed. I guess Rensselaer is a ghost town on Saturday at noon. We did find a breakfast place and ended up eating there. We couldn’t park in the co rec fields, I guess someone complained about broken glass in the co rec fields and they cut the parking spaces in half. We ended up parking south of the co rec fields just north of the Purdue West stores. I did finally get a smart phone that year and thanks to Pandora we now have music while tailgating. I was afraid my pregnant wife would have to walk longer to the game, but they had shuttles. We ended up taking that and it worked out well. We were able to get the ½ season ticket plan in the west sidelines. They are great aisle seats. We are at the 10 yard line and pretty high up, but you can see the whole field from a sideline view. Usually we have seats in the north endzone, but this is a nice change in perspective. This was a good game. The crowd wasn’t very full, but it was a high scoring. There was a lot of hype for this team with Ohio St and Penn St under post season penalties.
Game 45: 10/13/2012 vs Wisconsin
This was the worst game I have ever gone to. The game was really hyped up. Both Penn St and Ohio St had been suspended from the post season, so if we could beat Wisconsin we would be the most likely team to play in the Big Ten Championship. The weather was supposed to be bad. We cut out all tailgating options and headed straight to the airport fields. I was only going to have a couple beers and we would take the shuttle to the stadium. The airport field was in very bad shape from all the rain they had, but it wasn’t raining when we got there. The rain didn’t start until the 2nd quarter. Luckily my wife had packed some poncho’s so we didn’t get as wet as I did during the ND game back in 2006. It rained the rest of the game. On to top that, it was the worst game I have seen Purdue play. They scored in the first minute and then let Monte Ball run for like 250 yards on them. Purdue had no offense. It was 3 and out pretty much the rest of the game. I was so disheartened. My wife and I just stayed till the end sitting by ourselves in the stands in the pouring rain as everyone else had given up and left. I’ve seen Purdue lose, and I’ve seen them lose some big games. But, this was the worst home loss I have ever seen from them here and on TV. It is the only time, out of these 49 games, that I had considered the trip a waste of an afternoon.
Game 46: 11/3/2012 vs Penn St
It was another November game and another game with my dad. Purdue basketball had an exhibition game at night so I got some tickets on StubHub for that one too. We got to the tailgate and it was raining. I looked at my smartphone and told my dad it would be over in about 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later it stopped raining. It was cold, but it was dry. We got a great tailgate in that day. One group of kids that maybe had only graduated a couple years ago from college were trying to get this bottle of alcohol open. They passed it around themselves and asked us if we had any tools. It looked like it hadn’t been open in years and had dried solid. I tried as hard as I could to get that thing open, but it wouldn’t budge. I was ready to call it permanently on, but my dad gave it a try and he screwed it off like it was nothing. This was the 2nd coldest game I was at (number 1 being the 1st time I saw Penn St in college). Again, Purdue played horribly. The worst part is that we couldn’t leave early because of the basketball game. Finally, the beating was over and we could walk to the basketball game. The new Mackey looks nice, and it was nice to get some warmth inside. On the way back to the car my dad and I were saying how bad the football games were. But, we both agreed that the tailgate was fun and worth it coming out.
Game 47: 8/31/2013 @ Cincinnati
This game fell on Labor Day, so my wife and I decided to take a small vacation and go to this game and then spend a couple days in Madison, IN. I was afraid of a sell-out so I kept track of the Cincinnati website. The day tickets went on sale they made you buy a ticket for another Cincinnati game too. I ended up just buying them and got some great seats near the 40 yard line. I ended up selling those other tickets on StubHub and ended up only paying about $20 a ticket. Out of all the stadiums of all the sports I have been to, this is the worst. I heard parking was very hard to come by so we got there 2 ½ hours before the game and parked in the garage. The ticket said no grilling and no alcohol, but I had a couple of beers by the car anyway. When we got to the stadium the first thing I saw was a bunch of port-a-potties. I have never seen port-a-potties inside a stadium. The concession and bathroom lines were long. It took my wife ½ the 3rd quarter just to buy a bottle of water. The concourse was packed. This stadium has too many seats and not enough facilities to host these people. This whole place looked like a giant code violation. It was hot, the stadium was uncomfortable, and Purdue played like crap, so we left at the end of the 3rd quarter and started our vacation early.
Game 48: 9/7/2013 vs Indiana St
I decided to get season tickets this year. I liked my seats so much from the 3 pack last year, I told my ticket rep if he can get me these seats for next year I will buy season tickets. I figured I could sell the ND ones for big bucks and maybe make up almost half the cost. This was my first game against an AA D1 team (or whatever they call that league now). Since the game was probably not going to be sold out, I took my 2 year old son with me and my wife. He loves watching Purdue Pete. We grilled up some hotdogs and threw around the bocce balls during the tailgate. He sat on our laps during the first quarter. Around the second quarter we walked down to the seats next to the band so he could get a better view of Pete. We watched the halftime show and then left in the 3rd quarter. I didn’t realize the game would end up being so close. We walked over to the Civil Engineering building and found my picture. For a couple days after the game when someone asked him about it he would put his hand on his head and say, "Daddy had hair!" I showed him the CE lecture room and we walked back to the car in just enough time to listen to the radio and hear how Purdue held off the offensive powerhouses of Indiana St to keep the win at the end.
Game 49: 9/14/2013 vs Notre Dame
This ended up, even though Purdue lost, being one of my favorite games that I had gone to. My original intent was to sell these tickets. I figured with ND playing in the national championship last year, the game would sell out and I could get some good money for the tickets. Besides, I see ND all the time when Purdue plays them in South Bend. It was also a night game and I would end up getting home at like 3 in the morning. When it didn’t seem like I wouldn’t get the money I wanted for them on StubHub, I offered them to friends and family. No one wanted them so I struck a deal with my brother-in-law, who is a ND fan, to give him the other ticket if he drives. We headed out for some tailgating and totally expected to have to go to the airport lot. We lucked out and got into the co rec field just before they closed. We were the 3rd to the last car they let in. The car next to us was laughing about how much food we were eating. Tailgating is kind of like a buffet, you don’t stop eating because you run out of food. You just keep throwing food on the grill until you are not hungry anymore. The atmosphere at the night game was electric. Purdue actually played well. They didn’t win, but they had been getting blown out so bad at the games I had been to lately, I was happy to see them compete. This was my fourth night game and they had gotten blown out the other three. Maybe one day I’ll see them actually win a night game.
Game 50: 10/12/2013
This will be my game 50. My son loved going to the Indiana St game so much, he is coming along with me and my wife. We have nothing big planned before or after the game. Just getting some tailgating in beforehand. Maybe bring that skillet and cook up some bacon and eggs.