There is a reason why roughly half of everything a football coach says is a cliche: you do have to play the games, they are decided on the field, a touchdown is still worth 6 points, and you have to play all 60 minutes (unless lightning intervenes). The reason is Howard, or Stanford, or Appalachian State, or any of the many other games where an underdog didn't play like an underdog and a favorite didn't play like a favorite.
Purdue was far from those scenarios Saturday, but the outcome was the same: a disappointing loss in a game that, for the first time in the Brohm era, was underwhelming from start to finish. When Gus Edwards took the ball 74 yards on the Scarlet Knights' second play from scrimmage (he'd get just 20 yards on his other 13 carries), the Boilers were down 7-0, and they never were able to take the lead.
The defense could hardly be blamed, holding Rutgers to 220 yards total offense (excluding kneel-downs), which includes that Edwards TD, and giving up conversions on just 20% of RU third-down attempts. The offense, well ... 474 yards sounds like a lot, but 3 for 15 on third down and 1 for 4 on fourth down helps to explain the 12 points and one touchdown. The Boilers could move the ball into range, but failed over and over again to convert. It wasn't until the final minute of the game when the Good Guys finally got into the Rutgers end zone, and when David Blough's two-point conversion pass presumably fell incomplete (let's just say NCAA play-by-plays are lacking), Purdue's last drive fell just short.
Oddly, Purdue's surprising run at a bowl bid is far from over. Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana are all very beatable teams in Ross-Ade, and if you suffered through Iowa-Northwestern today like I did, it's hard to imagine the Boilers getting blown out by either of those teams on the road. A win today would have moved Purdue into a tie for second in the West with Nebraska, but a loss just drops them to a tie for fourth with Iowa. Of course no one's catching Wisconsin, but a strong finish would put Purdue in position to go to a decent bowl, like the Westchester County Department of Transportation Bowl or something like that.
However, to finish strong, the Good Guys need to pick up where they left off last week against Wisconsin. Take the video from this game, delete it, then take a sledgehammer to the drive and bury the pieces under the practice field - Nebraska has its share of problems, but they'll still be happy to take advantage of an effort like this one if the Boilers repeat it next Saturday in Ross-Ade under the lights.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head up to West Lafayette and hope that the volleyball team doesn't repeat this pattern against Rutgers tonight. (It's very unlikely - the Good Gals are ranked and the Rutgers volleyball program is not where the football team is - but then, would we have predicted just 12 points for the Good Guys? No.)