Purdue v. Northwestern Postgame Wrap-Up

(Staff Photographer, Boilerdowd took this awesome shot from sec. 119)

As our buddy Ryan from The Victoria Times predicted, the rain stayed away from West Lafayette on Saturday afternoon, but the wind didn't. It was pretty chilly at the commencement of the contest, but the Boilers were smoking hot to start the game. An early 14-0 lead made it look like homecoming might be a laugher versus the once-mild Cats...But, as the second quarter came to a close, Purdue was +4 in the turnover category, but was knotted at 14. A questionable call kept NW's last drive of the half alive, and Fitzgerald and company took advantage with a hook and lateral to score as time wound down in the opening half.

The third quarter started off frustrating for the Boilers as Northwestern took the lead and held onto it for the entire quarter, but Purdue exploded in the fourth led by a circus catch by Dorien Bryant and a couple of big-time, heady plays by my favorite Boiler, Jaycen Taylor. The game had an interesting ending for the hundreds who saw it on TV (special thanks to Comcast & Big Ten Network) and the 50-something thousand in Ross Ade. Taylor broke a run up the gut for 50 yards and stayed in bounds in an effort to run out the clock. But as the Boilers prepared to run it out from the 7, the youthful Fitzgerald decided this was a teaching moment for his Wildcats. Joe Tiller decided to make it a teaching moment for the Junior coach in the Big Ten. Instead of taking a knee, Purdue punched it in and made the final margin 18-points, and increased Purdue's record to 7-2 on the season (the Cats fell to 5-4).

So what do we learn from this game? Here are my thoughts:

First, Purdue's defense was the story, in my opinion. Terrell Vinson had two early interceptions and leads the Big Ten in that category. He and Pender are becoming shut-down corners...I am positive that Purdue hasn't had two corners playing this well at one time during Tiller's era at Purdue. Cliff Avril ("I like fashion!") is getting better and better playing defensive end and showed it versus a pretty strong NW offense...on the other side of that same DLine, Bright had two sacks as well and seems to really be coming into his own as his career comes to a close. Another favorite of mine, Jason Werner had his first career sack in the form of a crushing delay blitz. Purdue's lack of depth at safety was not much of a concern all day due to the fact that Justin Scott filled in so admirably from the get-go. Purdue's front-four was strong much of the afternoon and didn't allow NW to run up the middle with much effectiveness...during Purdue's two ugly losses, runs up the middle killed them all afternoon; Granted, NW is not UM or tOSU, but progress is progress.

Offensively, while Painter was sailing the ball at times, he did an alright job despite some dropped passes by a usually sure-handed receiving corps. While his statistics weren't bad, especially avoiding interceptions and adding two TD's to this season's count, he put the receivers at risk a few times by sending passes high across the middle. Greg Orton had a few nifty grabs on plays like that, but followed those efforts with some pretty awful drops. Dustin Keller continued to be rock solid, but simply has to learn to get rid of that silly spin more that he seems to use almost everytime he catches the ball now. He seems to get in the second or third level of the defense over and over and doesn't use his strength advantage enough in those situations. Kory Sheets ran well, but Taylor, despite his lack of size (5'10" 186lb.) plays big time and showed his brain on Saturday. Dorien Bryant had 7 receptions and showed his ability with an eye-popping body-control play in the fourth quarter.

Tiller & Legg called an extremely conservative game, especially in the 2nd and 4th quarters when facing the wind...While I don't claim to know what they know, I do know that Purdue's balance-attack was supposed to be able to overcome such conditions...it clearly could not Saturday. Tiller continued his dominance over teams the Boilers are favored to beat at home...We'll see if this team's resurgence is for real next week in Happy Valley. While I don't think Purdue will win, I'm looking forward to the game as I'd love to be proven wrong- A win versus Penn State would put Purdue in an excellent position for a NYD bowl.

Other Notes
Seven Oh

I don't really know how I feel about it, but it got results...Mark Richt told his players to make sure they got a celebration penalty after scoring their first touchdown versus Florida. It appears to me that it really didn't matter who was their opponent, Richt just wanted to see the team backing eachother up (but, it probably didn't hurt that the Gators were on the other sideline). It was one of the oddest moments I've seen in college football, if not ever, definitely in the last few seasons.

Uh Oh...

I didn't get to see the IU game, but the highlights tell me that the high-powered offense and vaunted defense (specifically front-four) seems to be in the middle of a Purdue-esque skid right now. Despite their head start toward becoming bowl eligible, the Hoosiers haven't been able to lock it up yet. The Cardinals played three good quarter versus Illinois; if they put together four versus the Hoosiers, IU will have to try again v. NW to become bowl eligible.

As Big Ten fans, we've been hearing all pre-season and all season that really, every major conference is better than ours. But through 9 games, the Big Ten has a better winning percentage than any other BCS conference. What's more, the nation's number one hails from the Big Ten and the "super-strong" Pac10 and SEC both seem to be just "OK" as their pre-season favorites continue to lose. I'll go one step further- Both USC and Florida seem to be about as impressive as Purdue...yeah, I said it.

Big Weak
Notre Dame was able to avoid losing for the second week this season. Congrats Big Manatee and staff on another huge step forward for the already-great program!

Early Monday Morning Items

Purdue v. Northwestern Prognostications