On October 21, 1967, the unbeaten and second-ranked Purdue Boilermakers, fresh off a 41-6 pounding of Ohio State in Columbus, welcomed an unheralded Oregon State squad to West Lafayette for Homecoming. The Beavers escaped with a 22-14 victory, one of just two losses the Boilers would suffer that year, the other being the Bucket game to eventual Rose Bowl loser Indiana. (Although Purdue finished #9 in the AP poll, the Big Ten's idiotic bowl policy - only the Rose Bowl, and only if you didn't go the previous year - meant that Purdue would have stayed at home no matter what, because they'd just been after the '66 season - thanks to Michigan State going after the '65 season, so the undefeated Spartans played no bowl in '66 - and thus finished 8-2.)
Oregon State was only the second non-conference opponent that Purdue welcomed for homecoming, if you don't count three games against Carnegie Tech in the '30s, and why would you? #18 UCLA beat up Purdue 20-6 in 1950, and that was that for non-Big Ten teams ... until today. The Boilers are still winless against major-college opposition on Homecoming in Ross-Ade, as the NFL-caliber Northern Illinois Huskies pounded the Good Guys, 55-24, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score makes it sound. The Huskies took their foot off the gas in the second half and still scored four touchdowns, easily breaking the record for most points allowed by Purdue in a Homecoming game (Ohio State and Wisconsin had each scored 42).
There's plenty to say about this game, and bdowd (who barely survived the experience) and J will share their takes later, but for now, all I can say is this: Darrell Hazell has his work cut out for him. Purdue welcomed an average team to Ross-Ade and lost every single phase of the game to them. Purdue had five turnovers, including a pick-six in the third quarter (the third allowed by Purdue this season), with a sixth turnover reversed on further review (I think); they kept Jordan Lynch from doing damage on the ground, but made him look like a Heisman candidate in the air, with 207 yards and 3 TDs passing (and a 72% completion rate); special teams allowed a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD to start the second half; and despite putting up 524 yards of total offense, Purdue was just 6 of 18 on third downs, giving plenty of opportunities for Northern Illinois to take the ball back and score yet again.
Danny Etling replaced Henry in the second half and was somewhat more effective, but nowhere close to carving up the Huskies like every previous opponent did. At this point, I find it hard to see Purdue winning another game - the improvement of teams like Indiana and Illinois suggests that the easiest games for the Boilers are behind them. There's still time to turn things around, but today, Purdue played like a 1-11 team ... and if Hazell can't fix some of the glaring problems his team has shown so far this season, that's exactly what they'll be.