UM vs. Purdue plus weekend recap as told through revenge movie posters
Due to a cornucopia of issues the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t post a recap of the Illinois or Purdue games until this week. But in honor of ending two-year losing streaks to programs and/or coaches that sorely were in need of some comeuppance, I bring you this weekend’s win in West Lafayette, plus other notable games, as told in movies all about desert best served cold.
The Little Engine That Couldn’t
Coming of an emotional and record-setting performance against Illinois that netted the Wolverines the all-important 6th win, all the talk was about UM’s prolific offense slicing through the Purdue defense like a through, um, a porous defense. Not only was Denard, Tate and co. riding a wave of momentum after dropping 67 on the Illini the week prior, but the sheer number of injuries suffered by Purdue’s defense over the year led most observers to conclude that only those with a (or at least a fond distaste for his ACL) would ever decide to line up in the Boilermaker’s secondary. On offense, Purdue’s once-competent stable of QBs had been reduced to one guy with a sliced finger throwing/hurling dump-offs to the 4th-string QB after UM Justin Siller limped off the field with a, you guessed it, lower-leg injury injury. Plus, Danny Hope and his Moostache was riding a two-game winning streak against RR and UM, highlighted by some infamous trash-talking/detachment from reality -ed from Roy Roundtree’s *shocking* decision to choose a team and school he liked (UM) over one he didn’t (Purdue), as well as RR’s gall to point out that players not wearing the Maize and Blue should be suspended for bad behavior on the field. Against that backdrop, it came as no surprise that UM was looking for against the Boilermakers, and more than a few UM faithful were hoping that the team left a or 40 on Purdue’s scoreboard in the process.
Justifying the fears of some that Purdue should not be for granted despite their glaring flaws, Purdue forced a Denard fumble on UM’s first drive and was poised to capitalize. UM fans, burned so often by this team’s penchant for playing down to the competition, were at the when the Craig Roh burst through the line and slapped the ball from Dan Dierking’s gritty grasp and Cam Gordon oh my go…oh my go…run! run you beautiful little freshman run! to the endzone for a defensive touchdown. UM quickly followed that up with another touchdown after a shanked punt and all seemed right in the world.
But then the skies opened up like a from the heavens, turning an already-cruddy field into soup and the ball into (apparently) the slipperiest pigskin ever used in organized football. The teams proceeded to combine for another 8 turnovers, 4 each, as neither offense was able to sustain any momentum. Denard returned the defensive TD favor with a 94-yard interception return by Ricardo Allen, and this prompted Chris Martin to ramble on incoherently for 5 minutes about stuff not related to the continuing play on the field. Ryan Kerrigan, pulling off his best Brandon Graham circa-2009 impression and sprinkled with the right amount of Tebow divinity, was a , continuously harassing UM’s QBs to the tune of 4 sacks and at least 1 forced fumble. Neither Tate nor Denard were overwhelmingly effective in the sloppy conditions, and the offense kept giving short fields to Purdue. And yet, the on the defense never gave in, holding Purdue to FGs and turnovers where even a single TD could have led to calamity. The teams kept trading possessions without much scoring, as UM maintained a healthy but certainly not safe lead late in the game.
In the 4th Quarter, Will Hagerup boomed a 72 yard punt deep into Purdue territory, which Purdue’s offense inside their own 10 yard line. After a couple of stalled drives, UM marched down the shortened field for a TD by Hopkins, making it a 2-score game that was effectively a for Purdue’s comeback hopes.
The immediate response to this game spoke volumes about the toll the last few seasons have taken on the fanbase’s psyche. Some fans, including one Rogaine-deficient writer, called for RR’s head after another 5-turnover affair, while others pointed to the team’s 7-3 record and the improved play of the offense as signs of life. Legitimate questions were raised about this team’s inability to HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL and Denard’s current passing ability, and a similar performance against Wisconsin or OSU will render swiftly RR’s offense from terrifying to . Still, while it took a to sit through this game, it was the type of game that UM used to always win under past regimes and yet was one that has eluded RR so far; a messy, field-position contest where the offense does just enough and the defense holds the fort. Yes, Purdue’s ineptitude on offense helped, but the game never felt in doubt and, for a fan who lived through the past couple of years, that is enough. The players, especially on defense, should be this week, and hopefully that confidence will translate to improved efforts the next two weeks.
Now having vanquished two of the more nagging thorns in UM’s recent history, fans may be left wondering to whom they should direct their pent-up anger and rage toward now? Should they re-double their focus on Tressel or Dantonio? Perhaps set out on a new crusade to (metaphorically) Plaschke for his idiotic tweeting about Denard? Personally, I’ve decided that with bowl eligibility assured and some stability finally being in place for my beloved but recently-maligned alma mater, it is time to enjoy college football in the fall, reconnect with friends and loved ones, and become a better person filled with love in his heart and a hop in his step. Oh yeah, and also keep hating on Cam Newton and the rest of the SEC. Those guys are still jerks.
And As For the Rest of the Weekend
* I can only presume that the Hoosier football team was holding Bret Bielema’s favorite windbreaker and/or Packer’s Cheesehead for , as he thoroughly demolished Indiana 83-20, including scoring 45 points in the second half (including one FG late in the 3rd quarter). Give me back my stuff! indeed.
* Texas, continuing its season-long hangover from last year’s MNC loss, were shellacked by Oklahoma St. 33-16 in a game that wasn’t even that close. At least Texas fans can take a in the fact that this loss won’t even break the top-5 worst losses for the season.
* Finally, the Wildcats of Northwestern scored another impressive win in its inexplicable rivalry with Iowa, taking the lead with a very late TD pass from resident Dan Persa who, as the gods demand, immediately tore approximately 1 million tendons in his ankle and is done for the season. It’s a major blow to Northwestern’s fortunes, yet proves that the Angry Purdue ACL Hating God is not afraid to turn its jaundiced eye to the rest of the Big 10 after it ran out of victims in West Lafayette.