This morning, my throat hurts and my voice is still gone as a physical reminder of yesterday's OT victory. Ohio State fans called the '09 game "Purdue Harbor" as the Buckeyes were physically superior, highly-ranked and fully expecting an easy win in Ross Ade...but there's the rub, right? Purdue has taken Bucknut teams to the brink before- easy wins are the exception, not the norm in this series over the past few decades...and I have no idea why. Both Joe Tiller and Danny Hope had and have no fear of the scarlet and gray. (Kinda wish we could say the same for some other color combos.)
My older brother and I got to go to the game...and BS's good pal Ed down in Texas provided the club level seats.
I had never sat in that section...I had toured the facility, but and marveled how this didn't look like Purdue football years ago, but yesterday I got to watch from it. It's a bit cloistered, but not as much as the super-high-end Buchannan Club. You've heard me complain about Purdue fans not being enthusiastic enough...and I'll still do that because as a group, we're not vociferous-enough on gameday, in my opinion. But the people around me in Section C-2 were pretty great...with one exception.
There was a young kid down to my right who kind of was the section leader- probably 12 years old, this kid was more situationally-aware than any Purdue coach on the sideline or QB on the roster...and along with the young guy, there were old wealthy alums and families around our seats. And the best part- not one of them told me to sit down all day (that's all but guaranteed to happen usually, sadly).
|A Jerk Guest on the Purdue Tailgate Show|
Let's be honest for a moment though- this year's Purdue team is enigmatic. As aOSU comes off of three straight victories (two v. ranked opponents) and Buckeye fans were predicting a run at the B1G championship, Purdue was coming off of two of the ugliest losses in recent memory. Purdue had no offensive rhythm the past two weeks...couldn't run the ball...couldn't stop the run...and looked like a gradeschool team in really nice uniforms at times versus a bunch of grown-arsed men.
KK Short played large v. Bucknuts
But as it's been in many games this season, the second quarter was different...at least it felt that way. aOSU now had the stiff wind at their backs and Purdue was heading directly into it...and the Bucks could at least move the ball. They put points on the board as the TerBush-led offense struggled to get into rhythm. Then late in the quarter, Marve came in and led Purdue on a drive that was mostly on the ground, but earned our Boilers 7...and the score was 17-7 at the half.
While the score didn't look like it, it kind of felt like aOSU had figured some things out...and the third quarter showed that. Even with Herron unavailable after being dinged up by the stingy (at times) Purdue defense, the Buckeyes began to move the ball...and everyone was getting involved in it. Miller looked tough creating time as Purdue would collapse his pocket, their wildcat offense was extremely-effective and they chewed up yards in the way I expected the Bucks to do coming into the contest. In fact the only thing that wasn't working was vertical routes, but that didn't stop the coaches on the evil sideline from calling the plays nor did it deter Miller from overthrowing his receivers by 7-10 yards with regularity. Watching Miller in person showed me a few things though. If he had a better system to play within, I think he'd be a pretty damned good QB. He's no Pryor in the fact that he makes good fakes, actually reads the defenses, has a better throwing motion, keeps his eyes downfield and doesn't seem at all lazy. This makes him a potentially-great quarterback, in my opinion (eventually).
So while the Buckeyes weren't lighting up the scoreboard, they were definitely winning the field position battle...and at the end of three, they had drawn the game to just a three-point margin. I think the whole stadium felt rightfully-antsy as the fourth quarter started and aOSU climbed back into the game. And even with the wind at their back, Purdue couldn't get back into the rhythm we had seen in the first quarter. Other than Ralph Bolden's shiftily chewing up the Buckeye defense, Crank being efficient when given limited opportunities and Siller playing a very solid game, there wasn't a whole bunch of production out of the good guys.
So after a decent drive stalled in aOSU territory, Wiggs put the final Purdue points on the board in regulation in the fourth quarter and the good guys were up by six points.
Herron came back in the game and made a difference earning tough yards. aOSU's wildcat was effective again and each time Purdue's defense needed a stop on 3rd and long, Purdue's defense couldn't come up with it. Ohio State got down deep into Purdue territory as the clock ticked down to inside 2:00 and aOSU decided to try to put the game in Miller's hands. Purdue's front collapsed the pocket and Miller narrowly escaped a costly sack as he rolled right and threw off of his back foot across his body. The pass fluttered over Johnson and into the hands of a Buckeye receiver tying the game and seemingly-sealing Purdue's fate. All it would take was a simple point after to put the nail in Purdue's coffin.
I actually had given up, as a fan. I saw this movie a few years ago in the Holy Buckeye game. Sure, that Tressel-coached team had firepower for days, and the Tiller-coached squad had a ton of pros on defense, but this one felt pretty heartbreaking too...even though the game wasn't yet over.
It's easy to avoid the view on the field when you're 5'4" and everyone's standing around you. So I didn't watch, but I heard the kick get blocked and felt my brother grab and yank me to the side as Purdue still had a pulse. One of Purdue's never-say-die DTs, this time it was Gaston, squirted through the OSU line to get his big paw on the kick...and with the unexpected block, the good guys were alive!
After a decent Mostert return (he didn't get many chances to get his hands on the ball due to deep, wind-aided kick offs...and bad offense) Purdue started the drive with Marve at the controls. And they drove into OSU territory. It looked like Purdue's mega-legged kicker would get a chance to set a record and win a game in the process. Purdue had to avoid the sack or turnover though. But Marve made yet another awful throw when he merely needed to manage the game.
At BS, we like Marve a lot. But as his pass drifted into the hands of the Buckeye safety, I couldn't help but think of a pal of mine's words that said, "Nothing good happens when Marve's in the game". It looked like that might be true yesterday.
But as the Fightin' Fickells decided to run out the regulation clock, we knew that Purdue would at least have a shot at winning in front of the small, but passionate home crowd.
aOSU got the ball first and chose to have the wind at their backs and the Purdue students in their ears. The Boiler defense got tough yet again and forced the 'Nuts into a fieldgoal. So Purdue would take over.
And here's where it gets weird- Robert Marve would get the call, again. I think many Danny Hope detractors were pissed at this point (I could hear a few of them). Purdue struggled against the statistically-stingy Buckeye defense for a few plays. And on third and short, needed to grind out a few yards. And in his first success of the abbreviated drive, Robert Marve finished a run like a halfback a while grinding out a first down...and Purdue again had a pulse.
Again, Purdue was shut down up front and faced a third and long, this time from around OSU's 13. Marve rolled right and found a streaking Gary Bush coming from the left side of the field and put the ball in the right place. Bush controlled the ball and went out of bounds on the one...but the officials wanted to review it.
As Purdue fans, we thought the worst- Bush had bobbled it and there would be no completion...but as they showed the replay on the board, we saw Bush not only control the ball, but extend it toward the pylon and perhaps break the goal line? Hell, we didn't know, the RA video people didn't give us too much to look at...but we all raised both hands to inform the officials that the game should be over. It wasn't...and my favorite football team would have the ball inside the 1 with 4 cracks at earning an improbable victory.
Marve broke huddle in the gun, with Bolden to his side. After some hand signal theatrics, Bolden split wide, the bunch goal line formation flexed out to a spread and Marve got under center.
(At least it felt like it...for a few minutes)
Marve kept the snap, pushed to the left and broke the imaginary plain with the Nike pigskin...and something very good had happened with Marve under center- The good guys had beaten the unlikable Buckeyes in overtime...and if for just one afternoon, Robert Marve's transfer to Purdue had paid off.
The place erupted, my usually- not-too-emotional brother ran up and down the aisle high fiving...as was everybody...except one guy who had disappeared. The one unpleasant person in our section- a foul-mouthed Buckeye had evaporated. His game-long antagonism had earned Purdue fans the right to put him in his place...but he wasn't there (predictably)...so we enjoyed the victory ourselves.
|Walk of Shame|
(I'm sure the Buckeye near me wasn't the only one in the stadium who was running his mouth during the contest)
J will be attending a BS summit in God's country next Saturday. So we'll have the chance to meet a couple of you guys (as promised). And once again, we'll be sitting in the higher-brow section of RA thanks to our friend Ed. So you'll get an eye-witness account of Purdue either getting into a bowl game for the first time in four years or forcing a one-game self-imposed playoff v. the lowly Hoosiers in Bloomington.
But, I can assure you one thing- I'll be wearing my Marve-lous T-shirt and lobbying for the Tampa Kid to be starting the game at QB. If nothing else, he's earned the chance to potentially end his career as the starter on Senior Day. (While we hope Marve will get the one-year of additional eligibility, we're not taking anything for granted)