It wasn't pretty. It sure didn't do anything to quell the worries of Boilermaker fans. But in the standings they all mean the same; a win is a win.
The game started off with a bang. Freshman B.J. Knauf running a reverse and lateraling the ball to Akeem Hunt on the game's opening kickoff, Hunt taking the ball 90 yards to the house. This was the tone the Boilermakers needed to set after last week's poor performance against Cincinnati. The excitement didn't last much longer.
The poor offensive line play continued to rear its head in the 2nd quarter when the Boilers struggled to punch it in from the one-yard line and settled for a Griggs field goal. This would be a recurring theme as they were stymied again by the FCS defensive line of the Sycamores right before the end of the second half, a series of events that saw poor time management that made Danny Hope blush. After another spectacular play from the special teams unit, a Frankie Williams blocked punt set the Boilers up in the red zone with a chance to extend the lead before halftime. With time winding down and no timeouts left (a result of burning them earlier in the half because of poor communication), Purdue ran up the gut three times, leaving just seconds for the field goal unit to set up, a kick they wouldn't get off.
As popular as it has been to criticize the poor quarterback play or watch in disbelief as the offensive line is blown up by a defensive unit of players passed up by FCS schools, Hazell and staff have had a few head scratchers of their own. Not one pass play in the final seconds of the first half? Let the clock down to the point where there's no time to get a field goal off? Where is Brandon Cottom, in the dog house? You have a 260 pound Goliath in your running back stable but run the 180 pound waterbug up the middle three times.
The defense, and in particular the linebackers, played a much better game accruing six sacks and a game sealing interception by the always solid Ricardo Allen. In the end the Boilers were able to hold off the Sycamores, but keep in mind this is an FCS team, albeit a good FCS team. This is a team full of players that many coaches deemed unworthy of playing football at the FBS level. Today they barely squeeked by. Next week they get last years National Championship loser, Notre Dame. Coach Hazell and the Boilers have some work to do before next week to avoid an embarrassment on national television.