Purdue and Ohio State – A Look Back

Purdue and Ohio State – A Look Back

(Photo credit: AP)

I’m not going to sit here and suggest that Purdue and OSU have a “rivalry,” per se. I know they want to steamroll Michigan more than anyone and Purdue fans want to beat Iowa and, when on the schedule, Notre Dame more than any other programs. But there’s something there between these two, isn’t there? The lingering glances across the gym during school dances, the bully getting the wedgie given back to him now and then… wait, where am I going with this?

Ohio State has been a power in the Big Ten for literally decades. People remember Woody Hayes, of course, but he was then followed by coaches that maintained or exceeded the expected levels of win success. Earle Bruce followed Hayes and then came what likely most of you remember. John Cooper was up next, there from 1988-2000. So let’s look back to the end of that Cooper era and, more important to us, the start of the Tiller era when Purdue football seemed to come back to life.

Cooper won 72% of his games and the Big Ten three times, but because he regularly tripped over Michigan and Lloyd Carr, he was summarily run out of town. Cooper went 7-2 against Purdue, bookending his time in Columbus with losses.

Notable Game #1 from the Cooper Era (OSU at Purdue, 2000): In late October 2000, #16 Purdue and #12 OSU met in a rare Ross-Ade night game. No Boilermaker fan can forget the “Holy Toledo” call from Brent Musburger, Gary Danielson sounding like he was crying, Ross-Ade sounding like it was going to lift off the ground...Seth Morales looking like he was almost losing his footing, Mike Doss getting burned badly, Purdue fans knowing this win was putting Purdue in the Rose Bowl…it was just a perfect night of Purdue football as the Boilers won 31-27.

That game is one we could talk about for its own dedicated Boiled Sports video (hey…there’s an idea…Boiled Sportscentury?). Drew Brees once told a story about how it’s the same play they used to win the 1997 Alamo Bowl, but that on that play Ike Jones was his first option. In the 2000 game, Morales was his fourth read and that even in practice he had never gotten there.

In addition to that, one of my favorite elements of that play was an unseen one. In Boilerdowd’s house, he had a photo of Morales steaming to the score that was taken from the South end zone. In the background, hopelessly out of reach, is all-American safety Mike Doss. Doss had intercepted Brees twice earlier in the game and in the photo he is looking over as though to say “Hey, where’s the help, guys?” Of course, Doss is the safety, so he’s the help. Womp womp.

Brees also had a quintessential Brees stat line: 39/65 for 455 yards, 3 TDs, 4 picks. And a win.

After Cooper came Jim Tressel. The vest went 5-2 against Purdue. Purdue won against OSU in 2004, during Kyle Orton’s senior year when Purdue was expected to legitimately compete for a national title. The Boilermakers started 5-0 and Gameday came to town….and well, you know the story. Purdue did rebound late that season to take down the Buckeyes in a thriller in West Lafayette that would have been on equal footing with the 2000 game had Purdue lived up to expectations the previous few weeks. But for the Tressel era, I have a few other games in mind.

Notable Game #1 from Tressel Era (OSU at Purdue, 2002): The 2002 season turned out to be a magical ride for OSU, as they went 14-0 and won a national title. However, their biggest hurdle of the regular season came in a November game in Ross-Ade against the Boilermakers. Purdue wound up 7-6 (4-4) that year so they were no pushover, but that record needed Purdue to win four of five to end the season, so at the time of this game, Purdue was 4-5. Somehow, though, they fought the Buckeyes toe-to-toe for four quarters and led 6-3 as OSU faced a fourth and very long one in Purdue territory and the game on the line. The unathletic-looking Craig Krenzel then stepped up in the pocket with the confidence of a national champion and finally drove a stake through Purdue’s heart.

(Man, those gold jerseys with the white numbers were so bad.)


Notable Game #2 from Tressel Era (OSU at Purdue, 2009): Danny Hope’s first season in West Lafayette did not go smoothly, though he had a pretty talented team. They started the year 1-5 and finished it 5-7. As Brian Neubert once put it, they were a bowl team that didn’t get to go to a bowl. They had seven losses and five of them were close (2, 7, 3, 6, and 3 point losses). At 1-5, facing #7 OSU in front of only the remaining die-hards (though the attendance is listed at over 50,000) in a nooner at Ross-Ade, Ryan Kerrigan decided to spend his afternoon terrorizing Terelle Pryor. Purdue led 9-7 at half, 23-7 after three and held on for a 26-18 win. OSU wound up 11-2 that season, winning the Rose Bowl over #7 Oregon and finishing the season ranked #5. Their only losses were to #3 USC by three in September and to Purdue by eight in Ross-Ade.

Notable Game #3 from Tressel Era (OSU at Purdue, 2007): Another game worth pointing out was the 2007 tilt, which still stands as Purdue’s last football game as a ranked team. The Boilermakers had won their first five and it was looking like perhaps Joe Tiller’s final swing at the piñata. OSU was coming in unbeaten as well and the game wound up being under the lights again. OSU thoroughly smothered Purdue, leading 17-0 at the break and 23-0 until with ten seconds left Curtis Painter threw a TD pass to salvage this from being an embarrassing shutout.

The Luke Fickell era happened next and only lasted one season with Purdue taking the 2011 meeting, making Fickell the rare OSU football coach to have zero wins over Purdue.

Then came Urbz, who before mercilessly pummeling Darrell Hazell Purdue squads had to deal with the Mustache, Danny Hope. Hope had previously steered Purdue to wins over the Scarlet and Gray in the aforementioned 2009 game as well as 2011 over Fickell. The intervening 2010 game – a 49-0 thrashing by OSU – was vacated, so the revisionist history shows Hope at 2-0 heading into the 2012 game in Columbus.

Notable Game #1 from Meyer Era (Purdue at OSU, 2012): Purdue went to Columbus in 2012 with the tall task of taking down the juggernaut that Urban was already building in Columbus. Sure, they were on probation and couldn’t play in any postseason games, but that only seemed to be fueling them. They were 7-0 when Purdue came to town, having barely survived IU 52-49 the week before. Purdue seemed to have some kind of kryptonite again that even Urban Meyer had no antidote for, as they led nearly the whole way. Purdue had a 13-7 lead after one quarter, the same lead at the half and 20-14 after three. In the fourth, OSU took a safety and Purdue had a 22-14 lead as time was winding down. Braxton Miller got injured which led to OSU turning to previously untested Kenny Guiton. I remember getting a note in the final minutes from an OSU blog expressing their frustration and yet claiming not to be surprised that Purdue was their thorn again.

Then Guiton got OSU into the end zone with just three seconds on the clock. They still needed the 2-point conversion which, OF COURSE, they got. And then we went to OT at 22-22 with the deflating hopes of Purdue fans resting on the shoulders of Caleb TerBush and Danny Hope. Yeah, you know how this one turned out.


Purdue is 4-9 against OSU since Joe Tiller rode into town. Sure, that’s not magical but consider that over the same span (since 1997) Purdue is 3-14 vs Wisconsin (including 0-12 in their last dozen against the Badgers), 3-10 against Michigan, and 2-12 against Penn State. When it comes to facing the power of the conference, Purdue seems to frequently be ready for OSU.

So sure, they’re not a rival. But there’s something there. There was even an article recently about how OSU players have kind of hated going to Purdue. Let’s hope Purdue gives them reason to continue to hate the visit.

[An earlier version of this post referred to Caleb TerBush as Curtis Painter. Boiled Sports regrets the error and we’re deciding who to fire in our editing department.]

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