Seven days ago, an inspired Purdue team played a physical and talented aOSU team even before putting the 'Nuts away in overtime. After a week of (presumed) smiles, praise, sunshine, lollipops, flowers, fresh-baked cookies and sunshine being blown up their collective backsides, Bad Purdue showed up to lay an egg this week.
Iowa was already bowl eligible (somehow), but my eyes told me that this Hawkeye team wasn't very good. They made stupid plays like fumbling the ball inside the Purdue 10 after receiving a gift from the Boilers, giving Purdue a cheap TD, dropping interceptions that were in their chests, dropping open passes and were generally as sloppy as the weather around the game.
It was a chilly day in the high-40s/low-50s with intermittent spits of rain and gusty wind. The wind affected the play on the field pushing Purdue to not kick or pass when going into the wind and forcing an attempted pooch by Wiggs to net 7 yards. Wiggs also had an ill-advised near-fake in which he kicked the ball right into an Iowa defender. On top of that, Purdue had a botched fair catch kickoff that gave Iowa the ball. So what had been rock solid for a few weeks, special teams, simply was awful...but they weren't the only ones.
|If McNutt was Superman yesterday, Purdue left the kryptonite back in Mollenkopf|
Last week, Purdue was sure-tackling and did a good job pressuring aOSU's mediocre Frosh QB. This week, they gave Vanderberg weeks (it seemed) to sit back and find McNutt as he tormented Purdue's highly-touted, but seldom-productive corners. But in their defense, how can you hold coverage for 5, 6, 7 seconds as one of the nation's best receivers just runs around the defensive backfield as if playing in the backyard. But when they did pressure him, get this, it worked.
One of the few plays in which the front got to Iowa's QB, he kind of wet himself, fumbled the ball and Purdue got a gift of a TD as he was standing in his own endzone. At the end of the half, it was 21-14, and it felt and looked like it should have been 28-7.
After watching Marve on this day in the first half, it was clear he was the better quarterback. He was quicker on his feet, both literally and figuratively, he was shooting darts and playing with a chip on his shoulder. Make no mistake about this- I like TerBus as a kid, but just don't think of him as a very capable quarterback...and I don't blame him for being what he is. He's been out of high school for four years and has only shown he can manage a game an not screw up too badly...that's not a bad thing if the defense looks like aOSU's or Penn States...but this defense doesn't. Thus you need a gun slinger.
But Hope came into the game with the idea that he hadn't seen anything in the previous contest that would make him switch starters. Hmmm...guess I saw a different game last week.
No matter, even with the wind at their back, Nord was baking up a blend of screen passes, poorly-timed quarterback draws and ill-advised runs inside the tackle when Bolden was very effective on the outside, yet again. Purdue didn't use any of its advantages of quickness by putting Bolden, Edison and Bush in one-on-one situations, but instead seemed stubborn and bull-headed to the point of never checking out of obvious bad play calls OR making any adjustments at half time that might have yielded results.
At the end of the day, Purdue had lost a 31-21. Furthermore, Purdue was not bowl eligible as they squandered the opportunity that was presented to them on a gleaming silver platter. So now, they're facing an unenviable situation of heading South to their rival who will be playing in their bowl game next week as they have only one win. Sounds like an easy thing to do, right? Just beat one of the worst teams in the nation, and they'll put a choke hold on their only bowl bid in the last four years. But, a home game versus a mediocre opponent after coming off of a big win would seem like a pretty good situation to be in too, right??
Purdue will play the depleted Hoosiers in Bloomington at 3:30 on BTN. I can guarantee that Wilson will have a Santa-sized satchel full of tricks, treats and toys for the Purdue defense. And on the other side, who the hell knows what Hope, Nord and Emanuel will have prepared for the only team in the FBS without a win versus another FBS foe. But, after watching this week's game, I feel this coaching staff might be fighting to keep its job...actually, I hope so. If not, Burke can put himself on the list, along with Hope, of employees on the athletic department's payroll who simply are not doing what they were hired to do.
Although I thought Purdue would lose this game, I was still in a foul mood afterwards, in spite of my BS counterpart being in town for his only game of the season. Thanks Coach Hope for ruining my pal J's visit back to his alma mater.