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Purdue 28, Florida Atlantic 26: Good Enough

Winning is winning.

Florida Atlantic v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Every win is beautiful.

That’s really about all you can say about tonight’s win over Florida Atlantic. Purdue came in without its top running back, top defender, top projected receiver, and (worst of all) its quarterback who had lit up the stat sheet in the first three weeks. The Boilers would look dominant for stretches and awful for others.

In the end, a fourth down stop that resulted in a fumble recovered by Sanoussi Kane was good enough. It wasn’t pretty. The offense went in fits and spurts. The defense went in fits and spurts. In the end, it was a win and that is all you really need when you are facing the injuries Purdue has right now.

There is no question this type of game won’t be good enough next week at what is likely a ranked Minnesota squad, but against Florida Atlantic we were able to cobble together just enough. Austin Burton played mostly okay in his first start as a Purdue quarterback. He only threw for 166 yards, but completed 21 of 29 passes for three touchdowns and had only one really bad throw with the interception. He wasn’t AOC, but it was enough.

Dylan Downing had his best day as a Boilermaker. He finished with 113 yards and a touchdown on three carries as Purdue ran for 188 as a team. His rushing TD was Purdue’s 7th rushing touchdown of the season, equaling last year’s entire total. Charlie Jones continues to impress with two more scores. There was offensive balance and if not for a missed field goal, it mostly did enough. Even Jack Ansell did he part by averaging 55 yards per punt.

The defense did not have a good night, but it made the plays it needed to make. We could not cover LaJohntay Wester as he caught three TD passes, but the defensive unit still made the game’s three largest plays.

  • Chris Jefferson’s second interception of the season nearly became another pick six, and came as Purdue was clinging to a one point lead and the Owls were deep in our territory. It ended up being a 10-14 point shift as Purdue used the good field position to get its final TD on TJ Sheffield’s catch in the corner.
  • Cam Allen’s interception of the two-point conversion kept Purdue in the lead after the defense gave up a long TD drive following the Sheffield score. It came on an underthrown gadget play, but it kept two precious points off the board.
  • The interior defensive line stuffed FAU on 4th and short near midfield with less than a minute left, then forced a fumble recovered by Kane.

Yes, I know it is not what we all wanted, but after losing twice in the final minute because the defense couldn’t make the one play it needed tonight the defense made said play. I choose to see that as progress. It honestly could have been a lot worse and the game-winning field goal as time expired felt pre-ordained like the Eastern Michigan loss four years ago.

Now get as healthy as we can, because next week is an elimination game in the West.