Boilers Crush Illini 46-7, Begin Prep For OSU
Illinois had one drive.
It wasn’t their first; after forcing a punt, they drove 77 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead. Had this been three weeks ago, it might have been a harbinger of things to come. Instead, their remaining possessions were punt, punt, missed FG, punt, punt, end of half, punt, punt, punt, interception, punt.
While Nick Holt’s defense locked away that side of the ball, with six Illini drives of three or fewer plays, the Purdue offense needed just two drives to get warmed up. They responded to the Illinois drive with a 5-play, 75-yard drive of their own, then added a 65-yard drive and a 58-yard drive; just inside the second quarter, it was 20-7, Purdue was on pace for about 900 yards of total offense, and things were looking pretty good. Indeed, it was the Boilers who looked to be celebrating homecoming instead of the hosts: they didn’t have a three-and-out until their first drive fully in the fourth quarter, when they led 39-7; a late Alexander Horvath TD made it 46-7, and the Purdue Cannon stayed with the Good Guys, making the return trip to West Lafayette. (Believe it or not, this is the first time the overall series with Illinois has been tied since 1905. Purdue went 4-0-2 in the first six, dropped 6 of the next 7, then took the 1905 game to level it at 6-6-2.)
Really, there wasn’t much doubt. Coming into the game, Illinois looked like a team that wanted to schedule more I-AA games, limping along under a coach who still hasn’t found his college footing in his third year on the job, while Purdue looked like a team intent on reversing the outcomes of their first three games. Once Jeff Brohm took the restrictor plate off the offense, it caught fire, with 37 points and 614 yards in the loss to Missouri, 30 points and 372 yards against Boston College, and 42 points and 516 yards against Nebraska. Saturday would continue the trend, as the Boilers racked up 611 yards against the hapless Illinois defense, and with the defense picking up its play, the game was effectively over after the first quarter.
David Blough had another great game, throwing for 377 and 3 TDs with a single interception. Isaac Zico and Rondale Moore both topped 100 yards receiving, with 127 and 101 respectively, with both guys pulling in receptions of more than 40 yards. Eleven Boilers caught passes, including Blough, who snared a 7-yard TD from QB-turned-WR Jared Sparks. DJ Knox didn’t score, but churned out 150 yards on just 17 carries before getting the bulk of the fourth quarter off; Markell Jones added 56 yards and a TD on 7 carries.
The defense made short work of the beleaguered Illini offense, recording 9 TFL (8 solo), 4 sacks, 4 pass breakups and an interception. Purdue’s return game didn’t do much, despite forcing 9 punts from Illinois’ Blake Hayes, but they didn’t need to. The one worrying sign was a blocked XP, but Evans hit the other four he tried, plus two FGs, and drilled touchbacks on 6 of his 9 kickoffs. Joe Schopper punted twice, for 48 and 46 yards, with a net of 46.5.
Excellent teams tend to blow out bad teams; Purdue isn’t there yet, as evidenced by those first three games, but this was as good a result ad you could ask for, especially on the road. Sure, playing in Champaign isn’t like playing in Ann Arbor or Columbus, but it’s definitely not like a home game. Up-and-coming teams sometimes struggle to put away weaker opposition - that was not the case today.
The Good Guys should enjoy this one tonight, because the coaching staff is probably already looking at video of Ohio State. The Buckeyes will likely be heavy favorites, but they can be vulnerable at times, as we saw today when Minnesota played them close in Columbus for two quarters. Asking for an upset is likely too much for a team that just got back to .500, but playing close for two quarters is a good goal, and as we saw in nearly every game last season and every game this season, Brohm has the Boilers staying close for twice that long.
Just keep it close, Boilers. You never know what will happen. In the meantime, where’s that Cannon?
Feature photo courtesy of Purdue Sports