Purdue has had a very special season, but they got the cherry on top tonight in a dismantling 44-7 win over the Indiana Hoosiers. The Old Oaken Bucket will return to its rightful owner in West Lafayette for the first time since the Boilermakers lost the rivalry game in 2019.
Tonight’s win gives Purdue a record of 75-42-6 against the Hoosiers and has won three out of the last four matchups. We knew this was probably going to be the outcome tonight, but that does not make it any less sweet to beat your rivals by over 30 points.
It also adds an extra layer that this team was able to get things done for the seniors on this team. Guys like Anthrop, Horvath, O’Connell, Mitchell, and over a dozen more have gone through during their time with the program. Whatever happens during bowl season, they will still have that last game at Ross-Ade Stadium being a huge win over Indiana.
Two players that have most likely played their final game at Ross-Ade Stadium were obviously David Bell and George Karlaftis. Enough cannot be said for how impactful and meaningful those two have been over the last three seasons in West Lafayette. Some posts giving them proper sendoffs will be out in the next few weeks.
Purdue’s defense was looking very suspect to begin the game, allowing Indiana go to down the field on an 11 play, 75-yard touchdown drive. With all of the craziness in college football this season and the upsets we’ve seen, this game could not be taken for granted until it was clear.
After Indiana punted on their first possession of the second half, Purdue rattled off 4 straight touchdown scoring drives. They were also able to suffocate the Indiana offense to no points and less than 100 total yards in the second half to extend their lead to the ultimate final score of 44-7.
The defense played like the unit that showed up against teams like Iowa, Illinois, and others. George Karlaftis and company posted a line of 10 tackles for loss, 4 sacks an interception and allowed Indiana to have a mere 205 total yards on the night.
Like it has since the Wisconsin loss, Purdue’s offense was on fire yet again. Purdue picked up 447 total yards of offense which was led by quarterback Aidan O’Connell who threw for 278 yards on an impressive 26-31 clip and 4 touchdowns. He has developed quite the connection with guys like David Bell, Jackson Anthrop, Milton Wright, and TJ Sheffield. They have been able to grow later in the season together and now are among the league’s best passing games.
Many fans (including myself) were hard on O’Connell early in the year, but the man proved all of the people doubting him wrong. To close out the regular season, the former walk-on has 3,178 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions in 11 games. The interceptions seem a bit high, but he has not been picked off since the Wisconsin game in which he threw three.
Zander Horvath, King Doerue, and Dylan Downing played a large part in producing the second-highest rushing performance as a team tonight as well. The main trio combined, combined with a handful of others for 167 yards on 28 attempts which were good for a 6.0-yard average. That would have been very useful earlier in the season, but it was good to see this team finally establish the run.
If you are a Purdue fan, you cannot ask for much more out of this team. The first 8-4 season since back in 2007, beating two AP Top 5 teams and coming a game away from winning a share of the division. Altogether the Boilermakers played almost flawlessly in their regular-season finale and finished the season on a hot streak by winning four out of their last five games.
Purdue is now in idle mode for the next handful of weeks as they await the news of which bowl game they will be participating in this December or January. It has been a special season so far and the magic can still spread a bit further, but for now, West Lafayette is going to be celebrating their dominance over that team down south.