The last time Purdue and Maryland played each other in football it was Dec. 29th, 2006 in the Champs Sports Bowl. You may not remember that illustrious bowl game that fell somewhere below the National Championship Game but above the Rose Bowl (I think, I’d have to research that to be sure), but it’s a game experience I’ll never forgot. This was the Purdue era of Curtis Painter, Dorien Bryant, and Kory Sheets on offense. These were heavy hitters on the offensive side of the ball. You can say what you want about each one of those guys but they definitely racked up yardage. It’s not the game I’ll remember though so much as the experience of watching it. Let me explain.
I had just turned 21 exactly two weeks ago. I celebrated in style at Purdue with friends and family by going to ALL the bars. Unfortunately, not all of my friends were able to go since not all of them were 21. Alas, such is life. But, as luck would have it, a friend of mine was turning 21 on Dec. 29th! We could go out to a bar, watch the Purdue game, and (legally) have some drinks. Since it was Christmas break though the two of us were back in our small town where the only bars were bereft of sunlight and anything delicious on the menu. So, we did what any self-respecting college students would do; we went down the road a town or two and went to Buffalo Wild Wings. That’s right, my friend spent his 21st birthday watching Purdue get trounced by Maryland 24-7 at a BW3s in Oxford, Ohio. It wasn’t exactly the most thrilling experience for any of us but let me regale you with a bit of the tale.
Perhaps it was our naivety or our unbridled enthusiasm but both of us assumed that Purdue had a really good chance to win this game. Sure the 2006 season wasn’t exactly the high point of Purdue football but there were some good games that season. Purdue went into Michigan State and walked out with a 17-15 victory. Purdue fought tooth and nail with #25 ranked Hawaii at Hawaii but fell just short 35-42. Purdue would end up 5-3 in conference play for a respectable fifth place finish. There were of course stinkers on the schedule with Purdue getting beat by Wisconsin and Penn State in back to back weeks with a combined score of 3-36. Woof. Still though, Purdue was in a bowl game (remember those?) and we were happy.
All that is to say that spirits were running (and flowing) high as the game kicked off. And then the game kicked off. Purdue was lost from the outset just getting absolutely bullied by the Maryland defense. I remember distinctly that Purdue couldn’t get anything going on the ground and sure enough when I looked up the stats this afternoon I see Purdue was only able to scrounge up 21 rushing yards as a team. Keep in mind this is with two offensive lineman, Uche Nwaneri and Mike Otto, who would wind up being drafted. With Purdue being decimated by the faster and stronger Maryland defense it was time to drink. And drink. And drink.
As the fourth quarter dawned and Purdue was down 24-7 the birthday boy was a little bit intoxicated and had to be told to lift his head off the table or else we were going to be asked to leave. He might have spent a bit of time in the bathroom talking to the toilet bowl. Purdue football will do that to you. Despite having a guy like Anthony Spencer on the defensive side of the ball Purdue couldn’t get stops when they needed them and simply failed to make any of the plays they needed. Purdue wound up -2 in turnover margin and turned in one of the worst bowl game performances I can remember watching. My friend though, lucky for him, doesn’t remember much of the game after the first quarter. Let’s hope we don’t have to resort to such terrible tactics come Saturday when Purdue looks for redemption served nearly 10 years later in Maryland.