A few years ago, IU beat Purdue with a field goal...we all remember that for multiple reasons. First, of course, IU doesn't beat Purdue very often, so it's easy to remember these rare events. But maybe more than that, IU's sports marketing department (smartly) wouldn't let the memory go away quietly as they made that win their calling card, for not one, but two seasons, in an effort to sell more tickets.
Thankfully, on Saturday, Purdue's Seniors made sure that the 2012 Old Oaken Bucket game wouldn't be decided by a field goal (or even six field goals) as they simply ground Kevin Wilson's improving Hoosiers to a fine powder.
As J talked about in his post-game wrap-up, The Seniors deserved to go out like this. This class was rightfully hyped by media, fans and Coach Hope alike. They're talented, they're big, they're fast and they're solid...and they should have led our Boilers to have better than a 6-6 record this season. But for a myriad of reasons, many outside of their control, potential never became reality this season. Purdue ranks in the 60s in many important statistical categories because, as a team, our Boilers are who they are. Poor play calling, lousy game planning, defensive schematic shortcomings, odd substitution patterns, injuries, mental lapses and poor development in some positions have made Purdue a .500 team. In spite of all of this, losing to IU would have been an unacceptable ending for this season, regardless of the compounding disappointment that came before yesterday's game. And the class of 2012, and specifically one of their leaders, made sure that their last walk off of the Prescription Athletic Turf was a happy one.
As Purdue ran out of the tunnel before the game, Marve was the first to fire onto the field, and he seemed to nearly skip on before sprinting toward the end zone to pray with his fellow QBs. Marve's child-like joy to play in today's game was very obvious in person. Whether simply breaking the huddle, celebrating after one of his four TD passes or greeting the defense after big stops, he acted like a guy who was just pleased to be soaking up every last minute of his last game on the home turf.
A ton of people didn't buy into Marve as Purdue's next QB when he decided to transfer from Miami four years ago...and honestly, they had reason to believe he wouldn't be a great fit. His previous coach benched him to end his RS Frosh season as a Hurricane and his overall swagger was something that most Purdue fans didn't think would quite fit in West Lafayette.
But in this final chapter, Marve has fit quite well. In fact, even those who didn't have a ton of faith in the cocky kid from Tampa, grew to like, and even believe in the Florida transplant. That kid became a Boilermaker through one of the most-adversity-filled careers I can remember in the last 30 years of Purdue football.
He worked through the distraction of an NCAA investigation, fought through three ACL tears and stayed positive as he was benched time and time again for not staying within the parameters of an uninventive offensive scheme...and maybe most-amazingly, stayed tight-lipped when given ample opportunities to even hint at negativity toward his coaches and teammates.
Who knows what would have happened had Marve not torn his ACL the second or third times...no one can tell what would have happened had he been given the chance to start the second half v. UND...and we're only second-guessing when we say the season could have been different had the two-QB system been scrapped in favor of #9 just running the show.
What we do know is Marve handled crappy situations as well as anyone could have expected him to. And on top of staying positive and being astoundingly-gutsy and gritty, when given the chance and the tools to do so, he proved that he's a pretty damned good quarterback...on one or two legs.
It's weird- in some ways, his nearly-four years within the Purdue family have seemed like an eternity as we waited for him to reach his potential. In other ways, it seems like it went way too quickly as his career at Purdue was so atypical, for so many of reasons. But he went out with a bang yesterday as he played one of the statistically-best games a Purdue QB has played in the Oaken Bucket. Here's to him having one more showcase game in the gold and black.
Regardless of what happens in December, he's earned the respect of most within the Purdue family and fortified it for those who were already on board.