Our pal Ed couldn't come up from Texas for the game, so he sent his tickets to me this week. I thought I'd take my Dad, fellow Boiler alum...but he had to go visit my grandma for her birthday. I then asked another Boiler...and another...and another. I asked quite a few Purdue alums and even a few non-alums that are big fans...but no one was biting. Perhaps they all knew something that I wasn't willing to admit- nothing's changed in Purdue's program...and they didn't want to see yet another bloodbath in person.
J and I both thought Purdue wouldn't win...but neither of us could really figure out how the Boilers would lose. Well, they lost in a very familiar way- by doing almost everything poorly.
The Special Teams gave away the ball and set up a score, the offense had too many turnovers- one leading immediately to 6 points...and the defense couldn't stop the run; inside or outside, and just for good measure, the DBs allowed easy completions whenever UM needed a larger chunk of yardage.
Denard Robinson looked like a Heisman candidate once again...shaking the rust loose that is often caused by the shackles of good defenses. And the old adage that 'nothing cures an ailing team like a game versus Purdue' reared its disgusting head once again.
It was chilly, a bit windy and clear...nearly-perfect weather for football, really. UM fans were confident as they headed into Ross-Ade- they were confident that Hoke would right their collective ship off of the bye week...and he did. Conversely, Purdue's coaches seemingly took the week off of practice as their players looked extremely ill-prepared, and not at all equipped to play a B1G game on this day.
If you didn't watch it, congratulations. Those hours that you spent coaching your children, watching better football, gardening, painting, napping or hunting for the perfect pumpkin were hours well-spent. But the three hours that I spent in one of my favorite places in the world, I'll never get back. The good news is that I got to watch the game with a friend of mine, and it was good to hang out together...sarcastically cheer every now and again and hope that something would change.
I have a confession- I left this game early...something I hardly ever do. But, I made it to the around the 4:00 mark. I didn't see UM break 40...but it felt like I watched the Wolverines lay 100 on the metallic beige and black.
TerBush played poorly...but I've said this before- it's not his fault he's starting. I believe the guy is playing as well as he can. But today was the reason that people like me have been saying for weeks/months- Purdue needs a gunslinger. I guess I didn't buy into the idea that Purdue's defense had suddenly become that of the Baltimore Ravens with the injection of the 3-4. But, in spite of his guts and grit, I'm not sure Marve...or Henry is enough. If the play calling doesn't change, it's not going to matter who is at the controls.
Drew Brees would have been benched by Hope and Nord for too much free-wheeling in this system. 15 might have checked out of the second, third, fourth or fifth fake read draw on first down that didn't gain more than one yard. Or maybe he'd call a slant route OR a vertical route (*sigh*). Or maybe not. What I do know is there's a reason Purdue fans will have a hard time believing the next big game will end differently.
As fans, we're on a hamster wheel of crappy Saturdays. Just like your favorite rodent runs the same way over and over hoping for something new with the next stride, Danny Hope and company do the same garbage in each game versus good teams and get similar results time and again. Sure, every now and again, we all jump off of the wheel for some room temperature water (a win over a MAC opponent) or some kibble (an unexpected win over a disappointing aOSU squad). But when the potential is there for Purdue to actually change course, things don't change.
I really believe that Ross, Bush, Shavers, Marve, Holmes, Short, Gaston, Russell, Allen, Johnson, and others are good enough to start for a ton of really good programs in the nation. But my Boilers continuously look like they're not ready for primetime when the bright lights come on.
A friend of mine who graduated from Michigan texted me as I got into my car outside of Ross-Ade. He rightfully taunted me...and I had no response other than Purdue stunk today; a lot like they did last season in Ann Arbor. A new DC, Senior leadership and a home game didn't change the outcome.
And perhaps even more worrisome, an even bigger intra-divisional game looms six and one-half days from now...versus a program that handed Purdue one of its worst losses in the program's long history, just a season ago.
I guess the good news is the media will be off of Purdue's back...removing all of that undo pressure from them about being one of the best teams in the league. So there is a silver lining.