Purdue football’s return to the postseason will be against a somewhat familiar coach. Purdue played the Wildcats in a home-and home during the 2003 and 2005 seasons, starting with the 2003 game in West Lafayette. We’re also familiar with Rich Rodriguez, who formerly coached at Michigan and faced off against Purdue three times. Things have often gone the Boilers’ way in both circumstances. Purdue is 2-0 all-time against Arizona and 2-1 against Rodriguez.
September 20, 2003: #25 Purdue 59, Arizona 7 at Purdue
It took a little while for Purdue to get going, but once it did, the Boilers were unstoppable at home. Kyle Orton threw for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns, hitting John Standeford, Ray Williams, and Brandon Jones for TDs of 81, 35, and 43. All told, Purdue had 580 yards of total offense.
Jerome Brooks, who was the No. 3 running back at the time, rushed for 122 yards and two scores. Landon Johnson finished with four tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, a sack and an interception.
All told, Purdue had 292 yards rushing and was completely dominant in every phase. Even the backups were scoring as Purdue had three fourth quarter touchdowns. Arizona coach John Mackovic didn’t last long after this game. After the Wildcats started 1-4 he was fired less than 2.5 years into the job.
September 18, 2005: #12 Purdue 31, Arizona 24 at Arizona
This game may hold the distinction of being the last Purdue football game that was not broadcast live anywhere on TV. I remember sitting in my apartment in Indy listening on the radio because no broadcast rights were ever picked up from the return game in Tucson. Even a year later at Hawaii had the legendary Robert Kekaula broadcasting it back to the mainland and I think Channel 4 in Indy picked it up.
This was the high water mark of the 2005 season too. Purdue was a preseason top 15 team, but after its first road win over a Pac-10 team in decades things fell apart. The Boilers lost in double overtime a week later at Minnesota and started a 6-game losing streak. We’ve been ranked only once, for one week, since.
In this one Purdue held off a determined Arizona team that kept it close for most of the game. Jerod Void rushed for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brandon Kirsch had 140 yards passing and 54 yards rushing in one of his last great moments at Purdue. Arizona had a chance to tie late, but Brian Hickman sealed it with an interception in the final minute.
Defensively, Purdue held Arizona to only 23 yards rushing.
November 1, 2008: Purdue 48, Michigan 42 at Purdue
We’re into the RichRod portion of the history here, and Purdue’s first game against was historic. The infamous hook and lateral to Desmond Tardy gave Purdue a late 48-42 win at home. It also officially ended a run of 33 consecutive bowl games for Michigan.
Let’s not have any illusion this was a good Michigan game. Purdue went on to finish 4-8 in Joe Tiller’s final season, but Justin Siller became a one game here with 266 yards and 3 touchdowns passing in his first career start. He also rushed for 77 yards and a score while Kory Sheets had 118 on the ground and 3 scores.
There was no defense played on either side. Brandon Minor had 155 yards and 3 scores for Michigan.
November 7, 2009: Purdue 38, Michigan 36 at Michigan
This was another historic game, as it is the only time since 1966 Purdue has won in Ann Arbor. Ralph Bolden rushed for 98 yards and 2 scores, but it was a Ryan Kerrigan sack on a 2-point conversion late that made the difference.
Joey Elliott had 367 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, including along one to Cortez Smith after a surprise onside kick. Purdue was down 24-10 at the half but dominated the second half, mostly thanks to the onside kick. The loss also contributed to Michigan missing a bowl game for a second straight season.
November 13, 2010: Michigan 27, Purdue 16 at Purdue
This is basically the game that made Ryan Kerrigan a first round pick. Unfortunately, the offense did nothing for Purdue. Kerrigan was beastly with four sacks and Ricardo Allen had his first of four career pick-sixes, but the offense managed only three field goals.
All told, Denard Robinson turned the ball over four times and Purdue made him look silly on a very rainy day. The biggest issue was the lack of a quarterback. Justin Siller started, but didn’t last a series. Rob Henry was still playing with a busted hand and couldn’t throw. Sean Robinson played most of the game at quarterback, but he played like a true freshman third stringer. He had 78 yards passing and Henry had 54. Robinson also threw two picks.