Like many of you, Purdue holds a special place in my heart. I don’t know if it was the warm brick buildings as we drove in for freshman orientation, all the students gathered in the bookstore getting ready for classes to start, or the sign outside Lambda Chi that read “Free Swim Lessons for Freshman” accompanied with a baby pool. But the moment I stepped onto Purdue’s campus, I knew I was home. I had siblings, cousins and uncles who also attended Purdue so the Boiler blood runs deep with me. As someone who grew up playing and watching sports, it was only natural I fell in love with Purdue Athletics.
While we may not have had the best seasons when I went there the excitement over game day was still evident. Students dressed up in crazy costumes lined up at Harry’s, friends outside playing cornhole, and tailgates full of alumni and future little Boilers running around. We all bled Black and Gold no matter what happened on the football field.
One of my earliest memories of Purdue Football is of course the Rose Bowl. My sister was a Freshman at Purdue that year and I remember watching the game excitedly at home. I don’t know that I really knew how big of a game that was at the time, but a future Boilermaker was born that day. Winning the bucket my senior year, rushing the field during the notorious Tyler Trent game, beating #2 Iowa last year and of course the OT win in Nashville are all times when the taste of victory just seemed so sweet. And what happens when you get a taste? You want more.
Coming into this season I think most of us had high expectations. And while we may have stumbled a little along the way and with some help from the Cornhuskers (who would have thought we would be saying that?) we managed to reach our goal of winning the West. But now, I want more. I say, let’s win the whole damn thing. Because why not us? I know, I know, Michigan is #2 but if we’ve learned anything as Purdue fans; #2 ranked teams aren’t unbeatable. But to win the Big Ten, something that we have never done before- monumental.
So what does this game mean to me? It’s the opportunity to see my beloved Boilers secure their bid to play in the oldest, most prestigious college football bowl game; the Rose Bowl. The opportunity to know that Joe Tiller would be looking down smiling on his Boilers heading to the game that he last led them to 22 years ago. That the Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell eras were not for naught, because sometimes the path from point A to point B isn’t a straight line. And to know that we can finally bury the curse of “The Fumble”.
But of course, I’m just one fan. And there are a lot more of us out there, so I asked some of my followers on Twitter to send me what this game means to them. Here are some of the responses;
My dad, a Purdue alum, got to watch the Rose Bowl in 1967 from the hospital because I, a new Boiler, was being born! I was in the Purdue band when Jim Everette was supposed to go to the Rose Bowl and we never made it out of West Lafayette!! Lets do this Boilers!!— Scott Sims (@ssims67) November 29, 2022
Lifelong fan. Started at Purdue in 04 and witnessed Gameday, a 3rd ranking, and the Orton fumble that sent us into a spiral for 15yrs. This feels like a curse finally being lifted.— Cory Smith (@CorySmithIWS) November 29, 2022
I was 8 years old for my first game at Ross-Ade. 2008 Oregon @ Purdue. We lost on a FG in overtime so I’ve known how it felt to be a Purdue fan from day 1. I can’t think of a bigger or more important game since I’ve been a fan. BTFU— Bloomington Boiler (#5) (@btown_boiler) November 29, 2022
This would be our first outright Big Ten Championship won on the field of play. We have only tied in the past. Yes we had help but we have had help before. This is a team that could be special for all time. Been watching them since the 60’s this would be the biggest win of all.— Mark Tow (@MarkTow4) November 29, 2022
My Dad and Mom got married in Aug 1966. When Purdue made it to the 1967 Rose Bowl Dad wanted to go, my Mom not being a Boiler said no to that expense in a newlywed budget and told him he could go next time. 34 years later we got to go with him and he was not on a budget!— Jenna Wright (@jenna9w) November 29, 2022
Hazel left this program at rock bottom. Brohm has done an amazing job. I’m proud of this team and happy for our fans. Win or lose it’s been a fun ride and it’s so cool to be in the big ten championship. Now let’s go smell the roses!— Andrew Sharp (@AndrewSharp1987) November 29, 2022
I think this is the biggest football game Purdue has played since the Rose Bowl…my oldest brother went to Purdue and I followed a couple years later. My brother passed a couple years ago and I kept all his Purdue stuff. I miss talking Purdue with him— Melissa Barker (@Melissa66912308) November 29, 2022
Started Purdue in '88. We were a basketball school. Coaches like Akers and Colletto didn't change that. Coach Tiller did. Regret not going to Rose Bowl in 2001. This is first time I get same feeling as Tiller era. Brohm did that, he brought that feeling back.— RedForest2021 (@forest2021) November 29, 2022
I can’t help thinking of Aidan; Tyler Trent, too. They absolutely epitomize what it means to be a Boilermaker!— Steven J Hood (@boilerhoodssj) November 29, 2022
Throw in guys like Mockobee, Chuck Sizzle, Payne Durham, and Dylan Downing; and you’ve got the greatest group of overachievers ever. A win would be epic, personally.
My dad brainwashed me a Purdue fan at a young age. We’re hardcore fans! Due to his work he was only able to get away to late season games so we had a tradition to go to the last home game every season.— Ryan Gregory (@rhinogregory) November 29, 2022
He passed away unexpectedly last February. This seasons for him for sure.
Who knows if/when Purdue will ever be in the position again. It’s special. And I really want this one for AOC. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and could’ve transferred. With the tragic passing of his brother, a win would create a story too unbelievable for Hollywood.— Justin (@justin_densborn) November 29, 2022
So I don’t know about you but I’m going to ignore the spreads, all the statistics stacked up against us, the naysayers on twitter and all the experts who say we don’t stand a chance this weekend. I’m still going to be cheering loudly for our Boilers knowing that while everyone else may not believe; my fellow alumni, fans, students, players, and all the future little Boilers will be believing with me. Just as we’ve always done.