Purdue’s last win over a ranked team came in 2011. While we have had a few upsets in that time like last year at Iowa and Missouri, it has been almost seven years since we beat a team with a little number next to their name. You’ll be surprised at who it was, too. Was it Ohio State? Michigan? Notre Dame?
Nope, it was Illinois, who got as high as 16th after a 41-20 win at Indiana gave them a 6-0 record. They lost to Ohio State 17-7 to fall to #23, then lost to Purdue 21-14 to fall out of the polls entirely (never to return so far). They had the symmetric season of 6-0 followed by 0-6 before winning a bowl game.
If you want to go back to a true stunning upset you probably have to go back to the infamous Purdue Harbor, when a 1-5 Purdue team shocked everyone (even me) by beating No. 7 Ohio State 26-18. That is the last time we beat a 10-win team and we have only the following wins over teams with a winning record since:
2010 Northwestern (7-6)
2011 Illinois (7-6)
2011 Western Michigan (7-6)
2014 Western Michigan (8-5)
2017 Ohio (9-4)
2017 Missouri (7-6)
2017 Iowa (8-5)
2017 Arizona (7-6)
That’s only an average of one win a year over a ranked team since the Harboring, and four of them came last season. Needless to say we’re hungry for an upset, and it is nice to think that we finally have a team that is capable of shocking the college football world.
So I asked the other writers:
Pick an upset: How does Purdue beat Ohio State, Michigan State, or Wisconsin?
Juan: If stuff in Columbus continues to fall apart, I am going to go with Ohio State. MSU is tough to beat in East Lansing, and Wisconsin has become a solid program under Chryst. Of course, we are toeing the line when we play Ohio State in October. They could still be distracted by their offseason drama, or they could have hit the point where they are over it and dominating again. Unlike their 2011 season, this scandal will probably only impact the coaches, as I don’t think there are any key players that could be suspended, but I could be wrong. (Juan here again, just a quick note that I wrote this before OSU’s “punishment” for Meyer.)
Andrew: If I’m being forced by these draconian questions to choose an upset out of those three games, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin I’m gonna have to use process of elimination. Wisconsin is out because of the history between the two schools and until something changes Purdue vs. Wisconsin will always be a game I dread. Michigan State and Ohio State have been two teams that in the last 10-15 years Purdue has played extremely tough with plenty of upsets thrown in the mix. Given the relative stability at Michigan State right now I will toss them out, plus the game is at Michigan State this year. That leaves me with Ohio State who currently stand in disarray without their coach. You and I don’t know what type of impact that has on this Ohio State team or how this process will wind up as the season gears up. Will the team rally around their embattled coach or will it bring the whole team down? My upset of Purdue over Ohio State depends on the team being a bit distracted with all this news.
Drew: Wisconsin (although I think M.S.U. is also possible) - Talent wise, Wisconsin is probably our best match up. Holt and Purdue played solid run defense last year. Although the cast of characters has changed, the scheme is still there. If our offense is firing on all cylinders I think we can outscore Wisconsin.
Kyle: Purdue beats Wisconsin by stopping the run and dictating the tempo. Wisky loves to slow the pace down, but with stopping the run and forcing the quarterback to throw, we can get them out of their game. Then on offense, we go up tempo, something they do not see much and gas them. It would be a tall task, as they are picked to win the West, but anything is possible and talent wise, I like our chances of stopping them than a 5 star roster at O$U.
T-Mill: I am going to go with Michigan State. They have a tendency to get into some ugly, almost Ferentz-esque style games where they are perfectly fine winning 17-14. Just look a tlast year. They won games 17-10, 14-10, 17-9, and 17-7. Also, the last three times we played them they went a combined 36-5 and we were a combined 6-30, yet all three games were within a possession deep into the second half. Twice Purdue even had the ball with a chance to tie or win on the last possession. If friggin’ Hazell can do that I know Brohm can do better.