A Cure for All Ills - Purdue 38, Illinois 27
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a football team in possession of a bad record must be in want of a win. Happily, there are other teams also in possession of bad records - whether or not they are enhanced by wins over I-AA opponents - and thus, with tie games being a thing of the past, a meeting between two such teams will always result in a win for one. Usually, when two bad teams meet, one of two things happens: the offenses either implode or explode. Purdue and Illinois combined for 1066 yards today (ooh, Battle of Hastings), so you can guess which we saw. Four Boilers had carries of 40+ yards; Austin Appleby completed 75% of his passes and did not turn the ball over once. The Purdue return game was shut down for a change (4 total returns for 15 yards), but the Boilers blocked a late Illinois field goal attempt and saw the Illini miss an extra point that could have turned out to be big if the Purdue defense hadn't come up with a late goal-line stand.
Illinois QBs combined for 450 yards passing, but "just" 8.5 yards per attempt and two TDs, plus a late interception that killed their final drive. As much as that 450 and the 515 total offense might bother you, the defense had very strong moments: a stop on fourth and 2 to keep the margin 14-7, a three-and-out following Purdue's second TD that gave the offense a chance to take the lead, a fumble recovery in Purdue's end that was shortly followed by an 80-yard TD (yes, apparently we do get those from time to time; +1, would do business with again), and a stop on fourth and goal at the 4 to force Illinois into panic mode late.
For a team with obvious issues, Purdue did a fine job of putting together a game that was good enough in each aspect of play to pull out a road win. Never mind that it was against the second-worst team in the conference: in fact, if Purdue is the worst team, then they should get even more credit for beating a better team on the road. If it turns out Purdue and Illinois are peers, then maybe the Boilers will get credit for applying the last boot that sends Tim Beckman out the door in Champaign. Either way, for a change, the rest of Saturday is ours to enjoy. For a few hours, nobody in the Big Tenteen West has more conference wins than Purdue.