The goal this season is for Purdue to reach a bowl game. It is not the Indiana mantra of “Play 13” from 2007, but a return to positive momentum after two down years is needed. After a pair of down seasons though, many were doubting Purdue could do that this year. Tonight wasn’t pretty. The Boilers left some points on the field with some mistakes, but it was hard to see a path to the postseason without a victory over the Beavers.
Consider that first step complete.
A ton of credit in this one goes to the defense. In fact, I would give most of this win to the D. Aside from he second drive of the game, where Oregon State used a trick play and a few big gains to go 64 yards in just three plays to score on a B.J. Baylor run, Purdue’s defense did a fantastic job.
Jalen Graham had a few big hits and finished the game with six tackles and a sack. Cam Allen got a huge interception just before halftime to set up a field goal. George Karlaftis didn’t get a sack, but he made Oregon State’s quarterback run for his life on multiple plays. Cory Trice had a critical pass break up on fourth down with Purdue clinging to a two point lead that led to an eventual touchdown.
Overall Purdue held the Beavers to 5 of 15 on third downs, stopped three of 4th down attempts (two in HUGE situations), and generally kept the game in control while the offense struggled. Given the questions we had and the issues with getting off the field last year, I will take it. There were three first half three-and-outs, and that is as good as a turnover each time.
Offensively... there were issues. The final touchdown to Payne Durham that clinched the game was beautiful. Purdue only needed a first down and ran a beautiful fake for a wide open 50 yard score. It was great to see Brohm go for the jugular there, and Vegas loved it too since Purdue was a 7 point favorite.
Unfortunately I think Purdue left at least 10 points on the field:
- The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the sidelines (I was told upstairs it was on special teams coach Marty Biagi), pushed Purdue out of field goal range early and cost us 3 points. Now Jack Ansell’s beautiful punt downed at the one, the following three and out, and short field as a result led to the first touchdown, but still.
- Purdue lost another three points on the fake field goal that resulted in Jack Albers throwing an interception. It was a well designed play with the pick resulting from the receiver bobbling the ball, but still. It seemed a little odd when an easy field goal makes it a two possession game at the time.
- A pitch to King Doerue was fumbled in the red zone on a play where Doerue likely scores if it is clean. Purdue settled for a field goal.
They were the type of mistakes that in another game could be very costly, but Purdue survived them. i think that is key, too. The defense was light years better, holding Oregon State to 7 points through three quarters. It was good enough that the offense did not have to be perfect in order to win. For us, holding a team to 3.1 yards per carry is gigantic.
Let’s also give credit to the special teams, which were MUCH better. Chris Van Eekeren boomed kickoffs out of the end zone, Mitchell Fineran was 3 for 3 on field goals, and Jack Ansell was effective punting it.
There were still positives offensively. David Bell was David Bell with 8 catches for 134 yards. He didn’t score, but his first down reception on 1st and 15 on Purdue’s final TD drive took a ton of pressure off the offense with a two point lead. Durham scored twice and had 120 yards on seven catches. Zander Horvath ran for 81 yards and a score. Dylan Downing and King Doerue didn’t do much, but Downing’s first carry as a Boiler did go for a first down. Finally, Jack Plummer threw for over 300 yards, was only sacked once, and had no picks.
It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a multi-score victory over a power 5 opponent to start the season and Purdue covered the spread. I will take it.
Now we get a game that, for all intents and purposes, should be a layup. UConn lost by 10 today to a Patriot League team. There is absolutely no valid excuse to lose next week.
One down, five to go.