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The Return: Purdue 35 Indiana 31

Purdue absolutely stole a victory against the Hoosiers in the final game of the 2023 season.

Indiana v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Purdue Boilermakers were able to overcome a ten point fourth quarter deficit to steal a win from the Indiana Hoosiers in the rivalry game that features the Old Oaken Bucket. On a day that saw the Boilers struggling for most of the game to convert the chances that they had given themselves, they were some how able to get a season ending victory that marked the 300th program win at Ross Ade Stadium.

Let’s grade the Boilers in the keys mentioned in ‘The Kickoff’ for the final time this season. Let’s get into it!

1 | Limit Jaylin Lucas’ Ability to Make Big Plays

Well, Purdue certainly didn’t do this very well until they decided to just squid kick every time in the second quarter after giving up a 100 yard kickoff return touchdown to Lucas. For a reason unknown to anyone not named Tom Allen, Lucas only got 2 rushing attempts for 10 yards and got only 1 reception for 12 yards. That is inexcusable from an IU perspective for a player who is as explosive as Lucas is.

Grade: C-

Absolutely inexcusable to kick it anywhere near Lucas for any attempt in this game but Lucas was limited when he did get the ball on the offensive end. There isn’t an ‘F’ for this grade because immediately after the kick off return touchdown, Purdue started squib kicking away from Lucas. That should have been the strategy all game.

2 | Dial Up the Pressure on Brendan Sorsby

Purdue wasn’t able to get a lot of sacks against IU but they did get two, both from Nic Scourton. They didn’t generate a whole lot of pressure on Sorsby but he did throw three interceptions in the first half and that likely contributed to how IU called the second half where they almost refused to throw the ball downfield. Purdue also didn’t make a whole lot of plays where they generated tackles for loss with only four for the game. The thing is, when Purdue needed to have pressure they got it.

Late in the game with Purdue trying to hold off an IU drive and on 4th down, Sorsby rolled to his left but Nic Scourton was able to get pressure and get a sack to turn the ball over on downs. That alone deserves some amount of credit but the Boilers could have done more.

Grade: B

The interceptions were amazing but none of them were really generated by pressure. Only getting 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks really hurt the defense when they needed to get stops but getting the big ones when they counted weighs more.

3 | Keep Running the Ball with Tracy and Mockobee

Well, the backs didn’t get a whole lot of traction today with IU selling out to stop the run but that allowed Hudson Card to be his most effective in the running game. Neither Tracy or Mockobee were able to top 50 yards rushing and without Card’s 87 yards, Purdue’s running game just struggled to get anything going. All game IU dared Purdue to throw the ball deep with their safeties sitting seven to eight yards off the ball and load the box.

Grade: C

Boilers have to do a better job of blocking up front and Card needed to do a better job of finding receivers open in the middle of the field to push those safeties back more.

Extra Point | Deion Burks Needs the Ball

This is one where Purdue needed a guy to step up at times and Burks definitely did that. Burks had 7 receptions for 87 yards but none bigger than his 44 yard reception late in the fourth quarter that setup Purdue’s final touchdown. Burks was able to get himself open underneath because he is the one threat that can break the top off a defense and he did on a couple of his receptions today.

Grade: B+

Burks was able to get himself open on some routes and his diving grab essentially won the game for the Boilers. He is a guy Purdue can build an offense around.

Prediction:

Purdue: 36
Indiana: 24

Purdue was able to grab an important win 35-31 and may have sealed the fate of Tom Allen. Purdue heads into the off season needing to make some big changes, none more important than hiring a specific special teams coach. That side of the ball struggled all season and improvement in that regard is needed for Purdue to take a step forward (it would also show that Walters knows what he is doing as head coach). The portal will be a place Purdue dives heavily into and it’s likely there will be 20 to 30 new players on the roster from there alone next season. Purdue can ill afford to lose important pieces but there will be plenty of starters that will find their way to other programs.

Play of the Game:

Late in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th and 1, Nic Scourton had as good of a jump on the snap as possible and blew up the Hoosier RPO. That all but sealed the game for the Boilers as it forced a turnover on downs and Card kneeled three times to run out the clock.

Player of the Game:

Hard to go with anyone else other than Hudson Card here. That was as much of a one man show as many Boiler fans have seen since Drew Brees was playing. Card threw for 275 yards, threw for 3 touchdowns, ran for 87 yards, and had the game winning touchdown run. That performance is what many were led to believe we would see from Card at the start of the season and what will be expected next season.

A nod to DIllion Thieneman as well who gets an honorable mention for his two interceptions and 8 solo tackle day that saw him break the freshman record for interceptions held by Stuart Schweigert and the freshman record for tackles held by Rod Woodson. When you get mention in the same breath as those two, you’ve had a great game and season.