Purdue won only 43 games in the 2010s. It lost 81. It was a dismal decade after the 2000s saw a Rose Bowl, a Big Ten title, a 9-win season in 2003, and multiple bowl games. That doesn’t mean there were some bright spots, however. The No. 1 game on this list will be pretty obvious, but why not go back and look at all 43 victories and rank them.
Yes, I am bored on Boxing Day
43. Indiana State 20-14 on 9/17/2013
42. Western Illinois 31-21 on 9/11/2010
41. Southern Illinois 35-13 on 9/20/2014
40. Indiana State 38-14 on 9/12/2015
39. Eastern Kentucky 45-24 on 9/3/2016
38. Eastern Kentucky 42-6 on 9/1/2012
37. Southeast Missouri State 59-0 on 9/17/2011
The bottom seven are pretty easy. No Big Ten team ever has a valid excuse to lose to an FCS team, not with the dramatic difference in talent, scholarship players, facilities, etc. Thankfully, Purdue is undefeated against the FCS level since it was created and will stay that way until Indiana State returns in 2022 thanks to the rule that Big Ten teams can play FCS teams in years that they have only four Big Ten home games.
That means Hazell didn’t try, however. The worst win of the decade came very close to being the worst loss in program history, as Purdue needed a late Ricardo Allen interception to seal a 20-14 win over an Indiana State team that finished 1-11. Purdue would also finish 1-11 and complete arguably the worst season in school history. That should have been a warning, as Purdue look really bad and struggled to get a yard on multiple “yard to go” scenarios against a bad FCS team.
SE Missouri State gets the top FCS spot because, to date, it is our last shutout. Danny Hope at least put FCS teams in their proper place. Pay no attention to that Western Illinois game, when all-Big Ten receiver Keith Smith saw his career end.
36. Middle Tennessee State 27-24 on 9/3/2011 – It’s another “Ricardo Allen saves our sorry asses game”, as this time he blocks a late game-tying field goal. MTSU, as last second schedule replacement for Kent State (who would have been playing game one under... Darrell Hazell) gave Purdue a game, but went on to only go 2-10.
35. Eastern Michigan 54-16 on 9/15/2012 – This one definitely went much, MUCH better than EMU’s next visit to West Lafayette. Purdue absolutely blasted the 2-10 Eagles.
34. Minnesota 28-17 on 10/16/2010 – No one remembers what actually happened in this game except that Tim Brewster was fired immediately afterward. All we remember is that this was the game where we learned Robbie Hummel re-tore his ACL in Purdue’s first practice of what was to be a Final Four season. It slowly spread through the crowd and dampened everything. It was also the last win of the 2010 season as Purdue lost six straight to close the year.
33. Ball State 24-13 on 9/18/2010 – Not a lot to say here. A 4-8 Purdue team mostly slept through a 24-13 win over Ball State. Robert Marve threw for 11 yards and 2 TDs, but it was overall a dull win.
32. at Indiana 33-25 on 11/26/2011 – Purdue clinched its first bowl game under Danny Hope, but it was over a lousy 1-11 Indiana team and way too close.
31. Illinois 29-10 on 11/4/2017 – The earliest Brohm appearance here, but this game is mostly remembered for David Blough sustaining a season-ending foot injury as Purdue scuffled past 2-10 Illinois.
30. at Illinois 20-17 on 11/17/2012 – Purdue has been pretty great in Champaign this decade, winning in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. Much of that is because Illinois has been really bad, and this year they were 2-10, but Hope still managed to squeeze past them.
29. Vanderbilt 42-24 on 9/7/2019 – Yeah, it was a win over an SEC team at home, but it was the last time we got to see 2019 Purdue at full strength. Elijah Sindelar sustained a concussion and missed the next game, Rondale Moore was still full Rondale, and Markus Bailey was doing his thing on defense.
28. Maryland 40-14 on 10/12/2019 – Another 2019 entry, Purdue took care of business at home against an awful Maryland team. Jack Plummer spread it around and the freshman excelled all over the field.
27. Minnesota 45-17 on 10/8/2011 – I don’t remember a single thing about this game. We won by four touchdowns over a 3-9 Gopher team. That is literally all I know about it. I think Ricardo Allen had a pick-6.
26. at Illinois 34-31 (OT) on 1/8/2016 – In a strangely exciting game Darrell Hazell pulled out all the stops to save his job… for a week. Purdue face a backup QB that could not through, but he ran all day on us. Purdue had plenty of big plays too as two bad teams combined for quite an exciting game.
25. Nevada 24-14 on 9/24/2016 – This was another dull game, but a late Brycen Hopkins touchdown from David Blough gave Purdue a home win.
24. at Northwestern 24-22 on 11/9/2019 – Aidan O’Connell looked good in his first career start, but Purdue needed everything in the bag to beat an awful Northwestern team. It still felt good to break a long losing streak to the Wildcats.
23. at Illinois 46-7 on 10/13/2018 – It was a comeback win, as Purdue did trail 7-0. The Boilers were completely dominant in a Big Ten road game, which cannot be discounted even against Illinois.
22. Indiana 56-35 on 11/24/2012 – Danny Hope’s final game capped a three-game win streak to close out the 2012 season and reach a bowl game, but boy, were the next 50 games after this depressing as Purdue would go 9-41 over the next 50. It was still good to keep the Bucket and at least get a bowl bid.
21. Nebraska 31-27 on 11/2/2019 – Yeah, this was probably the best win of 2019, which is not saying a lot. It still denied the Cornhuskers a bowl game. Aidan O’Connell led a great game-winning drive capped by David Bell scoring the winning TD on an end around as Purdue got a win despite all its injuries.
20. at Iowa 27-24 on 11/10/2012 – This was the win that started Purdue’s three-game win streak to end the 2012 season, and Purdue ended a long losing streak in Iowa City on a walk-off Paul Griggs field goal.
19. at Nebraska 42-28 on 9/29/2018 – I never thought Purdue’s first ever win at Nebraska would be somewhat boring, but the Boilers were in control for most of the afternoon. That is always nice to see.
18. Nebraska 55-45 on 10/31/2015 – This was the Ryker Fife game and Darrell Hazell’s only Big Ten home win, but it was more because Fife had a Chernobyl-like meltdown with five turnovers.
17. Illinois 21-14 on 10/22/2011 – Yes, Illinois was ranked going into this game. They were $24 after a 6-0 start, but ended up losing their last six regular season games before recovering to win their bowl game. It ended up being Purdue’s last win over a ranked team until Boston College six years later.
16. at Indiana 28-21 on 11/24/2018 – It was almost a mirror image of the previous year’s game, but Rondale Moore got loose for two big TDs and Markell Jones continued to be a Hoosier killer as Purdue kept the Bucket and went back to a bowl game. Let’s not talk about what happened in that bowl game.
15. at Illinois 38-27 on 10/4/2014 – In addition to the next game, Purdue looked like it might actually be turning a corner when it won in the first start for Austin Appleby. Even better, it, won by double digits in a road game. If not for the awful Central Michigan loss earlier that year the 2014 season might have been promising.
14. Western Michigan 43-34 on 8/30/2014 – This might have been the one time there was some hope for Hazell. He ended up beating a PJ Fleck coached Western Michigan team that would go 8-5, and he won by multiple scores!
13. Marshall 51-41 on 9/29/2012 – If you like points and big plays, this was a lot of fun. To date it is the last time Purdue had TWO defensive touchdowns in a game as both Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen picked off Rakeem Cato and took it back all the way. Just a fun little game in a forgettable era.
12. Minnesota 31-17 on 10/7/2017 – This was a wild game with a weather delay just after Purdue took the lead on a fourth quarter field goal. The Gophers then came down to take the lead back, then Purdue drove, got the go-ahead TD, got the deuce to make it 7, then Ja’Whaun Bentley sealed it with a pick six. It was the difference between a bowl game and no bowl game.
11. Western Michigan (Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl) 37-32 on 12/27/2011 – Yes, we have TWO bowl wins this decade and Danny Hope won a bowl game! There were all kinds of big names in this one. Gerald Gooden played the game of his career. Reggie Pegram had two touchdowns before transferring to North Texas. Justin Siller even threw a pass and Danny Hope ran two onside kicks. It was everything you wanted in a bowl game with lots of points and fun plays.
10. Indiana 31-24 on 11/25/2017 – It is a little high for an Indiana win, but it cracks the top 10 for what it meant. Purdue got the Bucket back after a record four-year losing streak and returned to a bowl game in the first year under Jeff Brohm. Purdue had to recover a late onside kick, but this was a cathartic win that put to rest the entire Hazell error.
9. Ohio 44-21 on 9/8/2017 – Yes, this might be a little high for a home win over a MAC team, but the Bobcats ended up going 9-4 and Purdue blew them out. This was Jeff Brohm’s first win as Purdue coach and was a fantastic opener at home. Also, it was the first night game under the new permanent lights at Ross-Ade Stadium.
8. at Northwestern 20-17 on 10/9/2010 – To date, this is still Purdue’s last road win over a top 25 team, as they were ranked 25th in the Coaches poll at the time. Rob Henry had a great ground game, but this was already a wounded Purdue team and that season quickly went off the rails after that.
7. Ohio State 26-23 (OT) on 11/12/2011 – Robert Marve’s QB sneak in overtime gave Purdue yet another win over the Buckeyes in Ross-Ade this century, which is pretty much a house of horrors for Ohio State since the start of the 2000 season. Yes, it wasn’t a great OSU team (they finished 6-7), but it was still OHIO STATE.
6. Arizona (Foster Farms Bowl) on 12/27/2017 – At the time it looked like Sindelar was going to be the QB of the future for another two years. He would only play in five more games. Still, he was throwing bombs to Anthony Mahoungou and Gregory Phillips as Purdue got a very nice bowl win over a good Arizona team. It was a great exclamation point on the surprising 2017 season after four years of misery.
5. Iowa 38-36 on 11/3/2018 – Spencer Evans connected on a field goal with seconds to go as Purdue got its third win over a ranked team in 2018. Strangely, Purdue was 3-0 against top 25 teams at home in 2018 and 0-4 against unranked teams at home. This was a fun. Back-and-forth game where Purdue led by multiple scores, blew that lead, but made a great drive for the winning kick.
4. at Missouri 35-3 on 9/16/2017 – This is one of my favorite wins of the last few years because it is the extremely rare case of Purdue being utterly dominant on the road. Purdue rolled into Columbia expecting a shootout much like it got the next season in West Lafayette. The Boilers were up 21-0 after roughly a quarter and 28-3 at the half.
3. at Iowa 24-15 on 11/18/2017 – Purdue does not make a bowl game without this game in 2017, and it was a surprise. This was an 8-win Iowa team playing at home, but Elijah Sindelar hit Anthony Mahoungou for two TD passes and Purdue pulled off a surprise win to start a three-game win streak to close the year.
2. Boston College 30-13 on 9/22/2018 – You may be surprised by this game being this high, but it was Purdue’s first win over a ranked team in six years. The Boilers had started 0-3 and looked like it would be 0-4 with a very good Boston College team coming to town, but Purdue’s defense was surprisingly dominant. This game started a four-game win streak.
1. Ohio State 49-20 on 10/20/2018 – The unquestioned champion. It was Tyler’s night as Purdue took the Buckeyes behind the woodshed and administered a shocking beating. Ohio State may have won 31 of their last 32 games and could win the national title this year, but they did not have a shot at the title last year for one reason, and we know that reason.