For much of this week I was nervous. As a Purdue fan, I had been conditioned to expect the letdown after challenging a good team. I thought Purdue would come out against one of the MAC’s better teams and fall apart at home. I mean, we had seen this before. Hazell got blown out at home by Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, then lost in the final seconds to Bowling Green. After tailgating on the IM fields tonight I walked into Ross-Ade hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.
Instead we were surprised.
Purdue was actually good. In fact, I would even say Purdue was dominant. We marched down the field and got a Spencer Evans field goal in the opening minutes of the game. We then got a few stops and held on to said 3-0 lead despite having a few drives fall apart due to dropped passes that should have been caught. Those drops only served to keep the game competitive longer.
With the game in the balance at 10-7 early in the second quarter David Blough entered for Elijah Sindelar. If he was looking to make an emphatic end to the quarterback derby, he did so. Blough was about as efficient as we have ever seen him. He only threw 13 passes and completed 11 of them for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. He blew open a 10-7 game with a 24-point fourth quarter that had almost everyone in attendance wondering if this was even allowed at home.
Quite frankly, it was a breath of fresh air. After four years of struggling to beat event he worst of teams on out schedule We saw Purdue run into the locker room at halftime with a 34-7 lead. Yes, I know it was only Ohio, but come on. We are not that separated from struggling to beat the mighty Trees of Indiana State at home.
For once, it was a stress free second half. Purdue faced a real, live FBS team (and a decent one at that) and was able to do what it wanted to do, when it wanted to do it. Tario Fuller had his first career 100 yard game with 142 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown tonight. Anthony Mahoungou had his first career touchdown. Cole Herdman caught a wide open TD on one of the most perfectly executed plays we have seen in a while. Jackson Anthrop caught his third TD of the year. Purdue dropped over 550 yards of offense with no turnovers and looked damned good doing so.
Then there was the defense. The defense was aggressive and swarming, which is also something completely different than we are used to seeing. They allowed next to nothing while the game was in the balance. It was really just one drive when A.J. Ouellette scored to make it 10-7. From there, it was all over the place. It is such a relief to see a real, attacking defense that takes some risks to make stops as opposed to reacting and giving up big plays.
All of this means that maybe, just maybe, coach Brohm is the real deal. I said all week that I wanted to see him not have a let down against Ohio. He didn’t. Purdue looked just as impressive as it did last week and dominated a team most real Big Ten teams would dominate at home. Sure, that doesn’t mean we’re ready to book tickets to Pasadena, but it is a far cry from anything we have seen for the past few years.
What was also impressive was the crowd. We had a larger crowd tonight than at any game last season. It is almost like excitement around a football team and a non-noon kickoff could be a net positive. In walking around multiple people were pleasantly surprised as I spoke with them. The vast majority said, “It is nice to actually feel like we have a football team.”
And now we turn to Missouri and a game that promises to have a lot of fireworks. Drew Lock put up huge numbers in week one, but his defense was absolutely horrid. We will head to Columbia with momentum.
Now is the time to win consecutive games for the first time in five years.