Joe v. Mid-Majors

For the next week or so, we'll sporadically write upon a topic that is controversial, at least among the black and gold faithful- What Joe Tiller means to Purdue football.

Today, we're going to focus on conferences that Tiller has "owned" (pwned in interwebnet terminology) during his tenure at Purdue. And away we go...

Mid-Major Programs

It's become a joke as of the last three years that Purdue has been declared MAC champs despite not being in the conference...and while Tiller-coached teams may have played well versus conferences like the MAC of late, it didn't start out that way.

In Tiller's very first contest as a Purdue coach, Joe faced his hometown team, the Toledo Rockets in Toledo. While this was a schedule he inherited, he couldn't have been too upset with the draw as it was a chance to show that this hometown boy had made good and become a major conference coach...Things didn't go according to plan. Purdue lost the contest 36-22...and the Tiller era looked to be a mere continuation of what Colletto, Akers and Burtnett had created- a program that simply wasn't good...not even versus mid-majors. But we all know now that that wasn't the case...Tiller was re-building a once-great football program. And he would do it on the back of games just like his first game at the helm.

Two weeks later, Tiller played another MAC foe and beat Ball U. 28-14.

In 1998 Purdue played two Con-USA opponents in Rice and Central Florida. Rice created problems for Purdue's defense with their throwback offense...and Brees wasn't exactly on track in just his second game under center as a starter. But Purdue got the close win 21-19. The next week, the Culpepper-led CFU Knights came into Purdue on the shoulders of their QB. He did his job in the fact that he passed for a lot of yards...about 100 more than the young Brees. But, he only engineered one TD as Purdue's D got on track for an easy 35-7 victory.

In 1999, once again, Purdue had two Mid-Major opponents- one a repeat from Con-USA another from the MAC. The first, CFU, this time at their place was a lot worse of a game than the media thought it might be. Brees and Culpepper combined for 91 passes, but neither really played as the hype might indicate that day. Purdue won going away 47-13. Next up, Tiller's love affair with Central Michigan began as Purdue whipped the Chipps of CMU 58-16...Brees dominated and the team did as well.

In 2000, Purdue started off with two MAC foes...CMU was the first game as Purdue ran away with a 48-0 victory. The second contest, another game in Ross-Ade yielded another laugher as Purdue rolled versus lowly Kent State, 45-10.

In 2001, Purdue started off on the road at Con-USA's Cincinnati. A bright-eyed and optimistic Boilerdowd attended the game with his older brother and friends as we watched a late interception by Stu Schweigert seal a too-close-for comfort victory, 19-14. The next week, Ross-Ade hosted Akron, where Purdue cruised to a 33-14 victory.

Not even a badass like Hardwick could look tough in these unis

2002 began with a D-IAA opponent, then two weeks later, Purdue hosted Western Michigan...a respectable MAC opponent, that season. While they were supposed to be an OK team, the game shouldn't have been as close as it was...Purdue squeaked out a victory, 28-24. Also noteworthy, Purdue was wearing their urine-gold jerseys/white pants (see photo) for the second time under Tiller.

One of the most-painful losses, for me as a fan, came against Purdue's first and only Mid-Major opponent of 2003. Purdue came out clad in the different-but-still-crappy gold uniforms for their first home game of the '03 schedule and played as badly as they looked. Bowling Green, whose quarterback had earned a bit of national attention, beat Purdue in yet another heartbreaker, by the closest of margins, 27-26. This was on the tail of a 2002 season that Purdue last a slew of games by three points or less...So it stung quite a bit.

(sidebar- You might have seen the "Bring Back Black" T-shirts around Ross-Ade during the 2002-2003 seasons. I'm happy to say that those T-shirts were designed by me. While I'm not the only person in the stands who found the gold unis horrible, I like to believe that my grassroots campaign helped the athletic department figure out the error of their ways.)

In '04, Purdue faced only one Mid-Major, repeat Ross-Ade visitor, Ball State. The Orton/Stubblefield-led Boilers crushed the Cardinals, 59-7.

The short Brandon Kirsch era began as Akron came back to West Lafayette in 2005...This time, the Zips faired poorly yet again as Purdue's silly triple-option dominated for a 49-24 victory.
For 2006, Purdue once again had two MAC foes visit West Lafayette. The first game saw a lousy Miami of Ohio team take Purdue to overtime. In overtime Purdue sealed a gut-wrenching 38-31 victory. Painful. The next week, thousands of high school band members watched Purdue beat Ball State in a relatively close game, 38-28. This is the game that Dustin Keller broke about 50 tackles and Painter threw for over 400 yards for the first time in his career.

In what I thought would be Tiller's last season, Purdue played three games versus the MAC in 2007; two versus one opponent- Tiller's BFF, Central Michigan. In the first game, Tiller traveled to his hometown once again, but this time the results were much different. I was actually very worried about this game coming into it...It's a good thing I'm wrong a lot. Purdue rolled as comfortably as a family in a Winnebago, 52-24. Two games later, they hosted CMU and won in a closer-than-the-score-indicates 45-22 victory. Our Boilers capped the season with Curtis Painter setting Purdue's single-game yardage record en route to a 51-48 MCB victory.

Tiller's record versus mid-majors, coming into 2008 is 17-2...Some say it's hard to always beat the teams you're supposed to beat- Tiller has nearly done just that every time.

BS Interview Series -- Jason from Eleven Warriors

BS Reader Poll -- Game 8