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Regular Season Reliving: Part I

Just how did we get here?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 19 Northwestern at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the regular season flips over to champ week and bowl season, it’s a good time for reflection. The Boilermakers have played 12 games in this roller coaster of a season to get where they are now. I will do a reliving of Purdue’s first six games of the season here, and the following six in Part II tomorrow, so stay tuned. Let’s get started

9/1 – Penn State

Coming into the season opener, the expectations of Aidan O’Connell and Purdue were the highest they had been in years. AOC was branded as a Heisman candidate and Jeff Brohm was to fuel a high-octane offense. One expectation nobody had was the sudden emergence of Charlie Jones. Mr. Chuck Sizzle burst onto the scene, catching 12 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in his Boilermaker debut, setting up for the rest of his impressive season. Altogether, the offense had a good day as King Doerue rushed for two scores and AOC threw for 365 yards.

Where problems occurred were on defense. Sean Clifford had a very good game, throwing 4 TDs and rushing for a 5th. The defense displayed some serious tackling issues and no play showed that more than a 67-yard touchdown pass to Brenton Strange with just 2 seconds left in the first half. Strange broke free from two bad tackle attempts and chugged down to score just 3 plays after a Purdue fumble on offense. This 4-play sequence loomed large as at least a 7-point swing. The defense did show some boom in its “boom or bust” approach as Chris Jefferson returned a Sean Clifford overthrow to the house in what is now referred to as the “puke six”. The other issue that came to light was the lack of discipline early on. Purdue committed 9 penalties for 92 yards, extending some drives for Penn State. In such a tight game, every yard matters. At the end of the day, Penn State was able to drive down the field and score a go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left and Purdue was unable to answer.

Penn State 35 Purdue 31 (0-1)

9/10 – Indiana State

You don’t learn too much about yourself as a team when you play an FCS opponent. It was an easy day for the Purdue offense as AOC only had to play one half to rack up 211 yards and 4 TDs. Charlie Jones had another big day, hauling in 9 passes for 133 yards and 3 TDs. The final touchdown for Purdue was a 14-yard sideline scamper by redshirt freshman and walk-on, Devin Mockobee. You might have became familiar with that name later on. Unfortunately, King Doerue aggravated a nagging calf injury sustained against Penn State.

The Purdue defense came out swinging in this one, forcing a turnover on the first play from scrimmage for ISU. The defense would score more points than they allowed as Cam Allen returned an interception back for a touchdown. One issue for the defense was receiver, Dante Hendrix, who would have 5 catches for 90 yards. Although not a crazy performance, Hendrix was able to cause issues for the secondary. No other ISU receiver would have more than 1 catch or 5 yards. ISU was held to 145 total yards on offense.

Purdue 56 Indiana State 0 (1-1)

9/17 – At Syracuse

Many point to this game as a turning point in the season for Aidan O’Connell. AOC was hurried 7 times officially in this game and took some big shots. He would hurt his ribs but remained in the game to throw for 424 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Surprise surprise, Charlie Jones had another big day, going for 11 receptions, 188 yards and a touchdown. Payne Durham would also have his biggest game to date, catching 9 passes for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, it was Durham who cost Purdue some crucial yards late in the game, due to unsportsmanlike penalties. In the rushing game, the carries were split mostly between Dylan Downing and Devin Mockobee who would combine for 44 yards on 17 rushes.

Defensively, a few weaknesses were exploited in this game. Purdue is not effective against a mobile QB and is just awful in a single high safety look. It was criminal that Purdue kept going into a 1 deep look that left CBs on islands with no help. This game was also lost to several boneheaded penalties, including two unsportsmanlike fouls after the go-ahead touchdown that would force Purdue to kick from its own 5-yard line, setting up the winning drive for Syracuse. All told, Purdue was flagged 13 times for 138 yards. Despite outgaining Syracuse by 179 yards, holding the ball for an extra 5 minutes, and forcing Syracuse to 3/12 on third down, Purdue would lose this game on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 7 seconds remaining.

Syracuse 32 Purdue 29 (1-2)

9/24 – Florida Atlantic

With Aidan O’Connell out with a rib injury, it was up to transfer QB, Austin Burton to lead the Boilermaker offense against the FAU Owls. Burton completed a lot of short passes, going 21/29 for 166 yards including 3 touchdowns and an interception. Charlie Jones received the bulk of those yards, going for 9 catches, 59 yards, and 2 touchdowns. The rushing game was improved too as Dylan Downing rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries with 1 score. Purdue was definitely playing with fire in this one, as 4 drives ended in a fumble, interception, turnover on downs, and a missed field goal.

Purdue struggled again against a mobile QB as N’Kosi Perry was able to pass for 230 yards and rush for a team-high 94 yards. For the third consecutive game, an opposing receiver was able to take over as LaJohntay Wester caught 9 passes for 90 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Purdue defense was not able to create pressure and recorded 0 sacks. Luckily, Purdue was able to force stops at key moments as a would-be tying 2-point conversion was failed by FAU and a fumble was forced as N’Kosi Perry was trying to extend the ball for a first down on fourth and 1. This would seal the game for the Boilermakers.

Purdue 28 Florida Atlantic 26 (2-2)

10/1 – At #20 Minnesota

Coming back from injury, Aidan O’Connell had a rough day. He would throw for 199 yards with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. AOC looked off during this one and threw some bad looking picks. Luckily, this game was the breakout performance for Devin Mockobee. With King Doerue out again and Dylan Downing not at 100%, Mockobee took advantage of his role, rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. His 68-yard rush sliced and diced through the Minnesota defense to seal the game for Purdue as the touchdown on the next play put Purdue up 10. This was the first game that Charlie Jones looked human, as he recorded 6 catches for 55 yards.

For the defense, this was the best performance of the season so far. Although Minnesota was without Mo Ibrahim, the Purdue defense held Bryce Williams and Trey Potts to just 48 yards on 20 attempts. Yet another wide receiver had a big day though, as Daniel Johnson went for 6 receptions and 110 yards but no touchdowns. The defense was able to force Tanner Morgan into three interceptions, 2 by Cam Allen including the game sealer over the 20th ranked Gophers.

Purdue 20 Minnesota 10 (3-2)

10/8 – Maryland

This was a better game for Aidan O’Connell, who spread the ball around to 10 different receivers en route to 360 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. Charlie Jones was banged up in this game and limited to just 3 catches for 15 yards. In the rushing game, Purdue did not look good as Devin Mockobee and Dylan Downing combined for 39 yards on 21 carries. The pair was able to score a touchdown each, however. Payne Durham had the biggest day for the Purdue receivers, catching 7 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The defense had an up and down game in this one as it allowed 4 Maryland drives to last under 5 minutes but result in a touchdown. The worst of these drives was a single play drive that was a 68-yard touchdown from Taulia Tagovailoa to Corey Dyches that ended with him dragging a Purdue defender into the endzone. Dyches would finish with 4 catches for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, thus continuing the streak of a receiver going off on Purdue. The defense was able to force an interception and record 3 sacks, but it needed some help to end the game. After scoring the go-ahead touchdown, Purdue let Maryland breeze past to get within 2 on an 18 -yard Corey Dyches touchdown over the middle. On the 2-point conversion, Maryland was able to score on a Tagovailoa pass but there was a lineman illegally downfield, negating the score. The next try would be an overthrow by Tua’s little brother, and Purdue would recover the ensuing onside kick to seal the game.

Purdue 31 Maryland 29 (4-2)

So, halfway through the regular season and Purdue sits at 4-2 with 2 tough losses and a couple games that they squeaked out. Check back tomorrow for the reliving of the second half of the regular season!