On August 16 of this year, barely more than three months ago, I posted a Purdue football 2013 Worst Case Scenario that included a prescient 52-31 loss in the Bucket Game. I felt that a 3-9 season with wins over Indiana State, an Iowa team that I thought was not going to be that good, and an Illinois team that would enter the game on a 20-game B1G losing streak would be as bad as it could get.
I was wrong.
Instead, we saw the worst season in 126 years of Purdue football, and one of the worst Big Ten teams ever. In the end, the unexpected explosion of 27 points in the last 20 minutes today made Purdue surpass the infamous 1981 Northwestern team in terms of scoring. That is little consolation for a season that was historically bad:
- Purdue has now lost 10 games in a row for the first time in 105 years.
- Purdue was winless in the conference for the first time since 1993 and only the second time since 1946.
- Purdue decided it wanted to have a power run game, yet finished next to last in rushing in the country, beating only Washington State, who finished bowl eligible while barely running.
- Purdue gave up 400 yards and three different 100 yard rushers to Indiana.
- Purdue had the worst offense in the country for a team from a BCS conferenceby far.
- The Boilers only seemed competent in one area, punting, where Cody Webster is a Ray Guy Award finalist.
Today was simply the culmination of several months of disappointment. Facing a terrible Indiana defense with one last shot at a measure of redemption Purdue came out and laid an egg. The Boilers were down 49-9 before the offense finally arrived for the season and reeled off 27 points to cosmetically make the score look prettier. Purdue ran for an embarrassing 31 yards as a team against a defense that gave up 554 yards just two weeks ago. Basically, Purdue saw that the Hoosiers had a glaring weakness (the run defense) that would allow them to have a great shot at winning (by moving the clock and keeping the IU offense off the field) and did absolutely nothing to take advantage of it.
Defensively, Purdue was completely incapable of making a third down stop to get Indiana off the field. The distance did not matter. Indiana was 16 of 18 in converting third downs, and many of them were of longer than five yards. I realize they have a very good offense, but you're not even trying as a defense if you let any team convert 16 of 18 third downs. The two non-conversions were interceptions by Ricardo Allen (the one defensive player that played with any heart all year). One of those came at the goal line.
As far as I am concerned there is not a single reason that any defensive player that starterd today should play in next season's opener. Yes, the offense was awful for 40 minutes, but the defense essentially did not show up. They should have simply laid the Bucket at midfield to start the game and walked off, never to return. That would have been more effective.
The lone bright spot of the day was Danny Etling. Who carved up the Indiana defense for 485 yards and four touchdowns. Only two of his 33 completions were to players that graduate this season. If Purdue gets him an offensive line and a running game there is definitely some hope for the future. Yes, much of it was done when Purdue was already down 40, but when you consider that Purdue struggled all season to do anything offensively no matter how much it trailed and how many scrubs were in, that was progress.
Just 14 weeks ago we kicked of the season in Cincinnati with a ton of optimism as coach Hazell had said and done all the right things leading up to that August 31 kickoff. In 14 weeks everything that could go wrong, did, as Purdue was 1-11 and was damn lucky to get that one victory. There were few signs of optimism for the future, we've already lost one top recruit with another (Denzel Ward) being coaxed by bigger and better programs. The trophy case is completely empty for the second time in four years with the Cannon, Bucket, and Shillelagh all in hostile territory.
All goodwill has been lost. It is going to be a long, cold offseason.