I mean... Wow.
This isn’t how it normally goes. This week was all about Tyler Trent. It was a fun little story. The Purdue student that captivated all of us took his story national this week on College GameDay. We were behind him. We were saying “Cancer Sucks” for him. But it was still big, bad No. 2 Ohio State in town. They are the Buckeyes. They are the class of the Big Ten. We would likely take an early lead, play them close, then they would pull away for a hard fought win among a ton of emotion.
Tyler said it best though:
“Purdue’s gonna win.”
Boy, Tyler, did they ever win.
I have been going to Purdue games at Ross-Ade Stadium for over 30 years. I was there for Brees-to-Morales. I was there for the Fumble. I am not sure I have ever felt such emotion in the stadium as I did tonight. It was a slow build. Neither team was sharp early, but then Purdue got something going. After being pinned at the 2-yard line We were able to move the ball finally with regularity. A penalty on Jared Sparks pushed us back, but it was immediately answered with a screen pass for a first down and a fortuitous bounce out of bounds.
By the time Isaac Zico made an amazing catch in the north end zone Purdue had marched 113 yards (counting penalties) and took a lead it would never give up.
It was only the beginning. The Purdue defense came to play, hoilding the Buckeyes to six points on their first four red zone trips. This wasn’t any team, either. This was an offense averaging better than 52 points per game against a defense that had struggled for a good portion of the season. The second best offense in the nation couldn’t do much of anything, and the defense held a wall that did not allow them into the end zone until it was already decided.
Then the Purdue offense... my goodness, the Purdue offense. It was relentless. We worked, worked, worked, worked, and worked. We started to expose cracks. The 113 yard drive was a crack. Going 80 yards in 8 plays to score with Rondale Moore was another crack. It was 14-3 at the break when I ran into a Purdue friend I had not seen in years in Shively. She told me then what was logical: Tyler was going to lead SHOUT.
Of course he was going to lead SHOUT. The maligned 4th quarter tradition was going to get the final boost of energy from Tyler. Carrying a 21-6 lead into the fourth quarter it was obvious SHOUT was pre-recorded, but it didn’t matter. Tyler asked us to SHOUT, and we screamed our fool heads off for a fourth quarter of big plays. DJ Knox broke two long touchdown runs, Rondale went Rondale and scored on a long TD. Markus Bailey had a pick six. Every time it looked like Ohio State might grab the thin threads of momentum and maybe steal of victory we made a huge play. Three times Ohio State tried desperately to get the ball back. Three times we delivered huge offensive plays and did the old, “We scored and are done with it. You can have it back now.”
The final moments were a coronation. The two fourth quarter Ohio State touchdowns were almost offensive. They tried to sully what was a perfect night in West Lafayette. The TD that cut it to 35-20 just pissed us off. They were going to take a right and proper ass-whipping, so Rondale and Markus dropped two nuclear touchdowns on them.
No matter what Ohio State does now the rest of the year, their season is ruined. They will not go to the playoff, not with a 29 point loss to the same team Eastern Michigan beat. The playoff was the goal, and Purdue absolutely ruined it.
Then the field storming. We haven’t heard sound like that in West Lafayette in a very long time. It was cathartic. It was 14 years of pent up emotions since the Fumble coming out. Tonight was a sellout, but the large number of Ohio State fans were never a factor. We protected our stadium and the OSU fans that came expecting a win were practically tossed out.
And of course, there was Tyler.
Let’s be real: There is a very real chance this was one of his final earthly memories, but what a way to go. We could only be so lucky. Purdue flooded the field not just with fans, but with tears because Tyler was right. He didn’t get his wish because saying it was a wish would somehow demean what he thought. He was just right:
“In my immediate future I plan to be in West Lafayette to see Purdue beat Ohio State.”
They did it, Tyler. They certainly did it.