The Boilermakers continued their long-standing tradition of almost never winning in the state of Pennsylvania, as the good guys fell 45-21 to the Nittany Kittens of Nappy Valley.
Wait, what's that, you say? The Boilers scored points? They sure did, clearing 14 points for the first time since 9/28 vs NIU and only the fourth time this season. They were helped again by a kickoff return, as this time Raheem made the Mostert of his opportunity and returned a kick 100 yards for a score.
Here's what I can say about this game: it didn't make me feel worse about the season. Is that the same as giving me reasons for optimism? I'm not sure, but I'll choose to be an optimist at the moment. Danny Etling looked a bit more comfortable running the team at times. He went 21/33 for 223 and a TD (along with an INT) and also ran one in for a score on a playcall the BTN announcing crew found to be utterly amazing.
I'd commented throughout this season that if only the Boilers were losing by scores like 49-21, etc., that I could feel like at least something was working. But when you're losing 44-7 and 56-0, it's hard to see anything being good. So by my own recent logic, 45-21 has to be considered a slight improvement.
However, it looks like even more of an improvement when you consider that the Boilers fell behind 28-7 and did not fold up shop. Mostert's kick return TD gave them some positive feelings heading into the half and they responded in the third quarter with an 84 yard drive that culminated in Etling's rushing TD. That 84 yard drive is significant, too, as the Boilers were actually able to move the football in this game with some regularity. They still can't rush the ball, however, as they only had 38 yards on the ground and a total of 261 for the game against PSU's 501 total and 289 on the ground. Mercy, that's hard to overcome.
That said, the Boilers did have drives of 32, 54, 75 and 84 (plus the 100 yard kickoff return), which is more than can be said for a lot of their games this season. They also had two fumbles and a turnover on downs in the second half -- if those killers don't happen, this is unquestionably a much closer game than the 45-21 score it turned out to be.
Alas, those things did happen and the Boilermakers fall to 1-9 (0-6) on the 2013 season. Their remaining opponents also got thumped today, with Illinois losing 60-35 to OSU and IU getting walloped 51-3 by Wisconsin. Many feel that Illinois will be playing for their coach's job next week against the Boilermakers and Indiana will be playing for bowl eligibility in the Bucket game -- assuming they win on the road in Columbus next week. (Hee.)
Two weeks left in this season to forget...but at the same time, two weeks are left to get better. If this crop of players uses those games wisely, it could mean a lot when it comes to getting off to a quick start next season. A win or two would make 2013 feel far better than it has any right to feel. Go get it, boys.
I was actually feeling good about our chances. But just when I thought we'd caught a break, or we were roaring back, we'd cough the ball up. After the Etling fumble (when we were on our way to being a FG down), it looked like the team gave up. TD, TD, game. But I'm feeling more positive about the team than I have been in two months.
I've said this time and time again...we need bigger & better players at the point of attack. That includes linebackers. Our defensive front 7 was pushed around the last 2 games creating those huge running lanes you saw. It's hard to put 100% of the blame on Hudson for the way our D has handled itself when your linemen & linebackers are getting blown up - leaving your small DBs to stop the run. I was REALLY disappointed by the D yesterday, but there's nothing you can do when you're getting overpowered.
I was somewhat happy with the offense. I thought they put together several nice drives only to squander it away with turnovers. I think Etling is developing some chemistry with his receivers and that will hopefully pay off seasons to come. The O-line was marginally better, but it still looked like Etling was getting pressure a little too much. Again...we need bigger & better players on the line.
I feel better about this game simply because we were able to move the ball. I still don't know what happened to our defense that went out and shut down notre dame for most of the gamer earlier this season. 21 points against a big ten team is usually enough to keep you in the game, but your defense has to stop the other team. If we could have made them punt a couple of times, it could have been close.
And Purdue is finally ranked! #9 baby!