1/3/2022 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat – Walk Off Grit Edition

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

A little birdy told me something…

I heard a rumor.

My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who read on twitter that Aidan O’Connell wasn’t going to play against Tennessee. I guess it’s pretty serious…

Far be it from me, to judge the merits of internet rumors. I’m no Emmy winner or anything, I’m just a humble journalist. Some people tweet baseless things for internet clout, because they’re addicted to clicks. Certain folk don’t care what reality is. Certain folk just want the internet clout.

I heard a rumor…

I heard a rumor, from a person in the All American Marching Band, that Tennesee was going to beat the breaks off of the Boilermakers.

I heard a rumor that the SEC was too fast for a program like Purdue. I heard a rumor that Purdue was too far depleted to stand a chance. I heard a rumor that Tennessee didn’t want to be there, but it didn’t matter because they were going to destroy the Boilermakers anyways.

I heard the rumor that Purdue was playing a neutral site game, against a team which consumed 90% of the tickets. Some would call it an away game.

I heard a rumor that the game was going to be cancelled. COVID. Certain people told me that Purdue Pete has it. Luckily he’s going to be ok.

I heard a rumor that Tennessee is the greatest program in the world, but that everyone hates them, including the officials. They hate them, because they ain’t them.

I guess rumors are more exciting than the truth…

Venus Williams

The Game:

Aidan O’Connell starts slow, eventually torches Tennessee as Purdue outlasts hubris slathered Volunteers 48-45

Aidan O’Connell passed for 534 yards and 5 TDs, connecting with 9 different receivers. Brock Thompson received for 217 yards on two injured knees, accounting for 2 touchdowns. Payne Durham added two more touchdowns, including an all timer of a highlight reel score.

Purdue’s thin defense struggled at time against the high powered Vols offense. The quick succession and physical gameplay led to many injuries and cramping situations for Purdue players. The defense made stops when it mattered, including an overtime stop on 4th and goal, which wiped out Tennessee’s last opportunity to score.

Jaylan Alexander led the way with 19 (!) tackles, Chris Jefferson had 15 (!), Kieren Douglas had 14 (!), Jalen Graham had 12 (!), and Cam Allen had 9 (!).

The game was decided on the foot of Mitchell Fineran, who went 4/4 on field goals, including a glorious, majestic, curling, 39 yard overtime kick which sent the rumored powerhouse Tennessee Volunteers packing.

Break It Down:

This game was incredibly satisfying.

Simple arithmetic will tell the tale. If you add up the pregame rumors, with the depleted Purdue roster, the incredible performances, an SEC foe, a game essentially on the road, in front of the most notoriously antagonistic/irritating fanbase in all of college athletics. What do you get?

A gritty performance, an eventful evening, a disappointed orange-clad fanbase, and Boilermakers standing triumphantly at midfield holding a trophy.

I have beamed in pride many times during my 35+ years of Purdue fandom. This game will go down in history as, perhaps, the most entertaining in my lifetime, and really Boiler history. This game was right up there with the 1998 Alamo Bowl as the most thrilling football in Boilermaker lore, in my opinion. It all comes down to heart.

Purdue’s gritty performance will be remembered, and talked about for years to come. Whether it is the battling through injuries, making Tennessee pay for their foolish pride, beating a “mighty” SEC team in essentially an away game, on national television. Chef’s kiss.

I am incredibly proud of the heart that Coach Brohm’s team. My cup overfloweth of happiness for the Boilermakers. Boilermaker Football. Next. Man. Up.


What Went Well:

  • The “O” in O’Connell: Stands for OUTSTANDING. 534 yards and 5 TDs. while he threw 3 picks, luckily he forgot about them quickly. His performance, without his 3 most productive wide receivers, is absolutely legendary.
  • Bring the Payne: 5 receptions for 85 yards, and 2 TDs. His 62 yard TD in which he went rumbln’, sumblin’, and bumblin’ all over the Tennessee defense is an ultimate testament to his grit. He could’ve folded, but he didn’t.
  • Broc’ed and Loaded: 217 yards. 2 TDs. Broc Thompson, Boilermaker. Running loops around Tennesee’s defense, with two injured legs. My man couldn’t walk, but he could run wild on the Volunteer secondary. Smoked that SEC speed with two injured legs. For Broc, it just means more.
  • Thirteen Point eight: The average tackle total for Purdue’s top 5 tacklers against Tennessee. AVERAGE. That is heart.

Big Man on Campus:

Broc Thompson probably doesn’t read my articles. I figure my grandmother and my fellow Purdue buddies are my only readers. Regardless, I am going to speak directly to him.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Broc… You’re a badass.

Photo: Mark Elsner

You are a bad, bad man. You may have a few years of eligibility left, but you have already engraved yourself as a bon-a-fide Purdue legend. You are everything that personifies Purdue. Needing two knee surgeries, you showed up.

In the face of overwhelming odds, you balled out. In front of the nation, you showed what it meant to be a Boilermaker.

217 yds. Two hundred and seventeen yards. 2 TDs. Two touchdowns. You put Purdue on your shoulders and helped carry your team to victory. Injured. Mourning a childhood friend who recently passed away. You warrior.

So drained, you needed assistance on the sidelines to stand. After the game you needed crutches to move around. Still met with opponents, and shook their hands. Footage of meeting with Purdue fans after the game, sharing pleasantries with those who wanted to see you, leaning on your crutches.

Your performance. Your heart. Your love for the game. Your love for the fans. Your love for your family. Your love for your childhood friend. Your love for the Boilermakers… Boiler nation is proud of you.

You’re not the only one. There are others who have preceded you, and others who will follow your lead. What you have shown us this season, including in the bowl game, has endeared you to this university.

Leader. Wide Receiver. Starter. Music City Bowl MVP. Legend. Badass.

Broc Thompson. Boilermaker.

One Final Thing:

Tennessee fans are an incredible bunch. Since the entire world revolves around social media, their fans have been a virus on the internet machine since it’s inception.

I’ve been to Knoxville. It is a nice town! We saw the Sun Sphere! We had a very nice BBQ dinner just down the river from the UT stadium. We followed that up with a nice ice cream sundae in a old timey soda-jerk style parlor. There was a live band playing outside. It was lovely!

With such a lovely town, why are Tennessee fans so angry? Who hurt you?

While I was not at the game, I know many who were. “Tales of Tennessee” could be the title of a horror novel. It could be the title of a novel depicting the antagonistic fandom of a group of folks who are particularly nasty. People who will hive-mind themselves into ferocious interactions with opponents. The types who’ve provided documented instances of throwing mustard bottles, golf balls, beer bottles… whatever onto the field at opponents who have defeated them. These are the folks who Purdue was dealing with.

From the day that the game was announced, Tennessee fans got nasty. The Twitter turmoil ramped up. For the weeks leading into the game trash was talked. During the game? Fans boo’ed Purdue’s injuries. After the game? It was a bad call that cost the Vol’s the game. Two days after the game, there are still Karen Vol fans, and townies tweeting at me, talking trash. After a loss. After a loss which their hubris running rampant before hand. A game which they piddled away.

Dealing with Volunteer fans is exhausting. No wonder the SEC hates them.

  1. Purdue was suffering from incredible attrition due to injuries. Cramping and muscle pulls were going to be a thing, this game. Don’t flatter yourself. This Purdue team was completely decimated by injuries, and they didn’t have the depth to sacrifice talent for a play or two at a time. Booing an injured player is amateur-hour. Whatever mental gymnastics needed to justify it are simply embarrassing for you and your fanbase.
  2. If you’re supposedly football super fans, at least acknowledge the fact that Tennessee had multiple opportunities to put the game away. If nothing else acknowledge the rule book. Forward progress was stopped on that infamous play. You know the play. The play that y’all are so butthurt about. FYI it is illegal to PULL a player forward. Also, if you are relying on a 4th and goal in OVERTIME to be your saving grace, against an overmatched opponent, maybe you shouldn’t be so indignant about it not working. Just a thought. If you’re so superior, end the game in regulation, like a competent team would have. The rumors told me you were going to beat the breaks off of the Boilermakers. Didn’t happen.
  3. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fan base. Bless your hearts.

Game Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/PurdueFootball/Tennessee-MusicCityBowl/

Basketball is Still a Thing:

The #3 Purdue Boilermaker Basketball team continues their winning ways, taking care of business against Nicholls State. Despite a hot shooting night from the Colonials, Purdue ended up winning 104-90. Zach Edey had 21, Jaden Ivey had 19, Isiah with 15, and Sasha with 14.

While the scoreboard could lead to some side-eye, this was a disproportionally hot shooting night for Nicholls, as they had players go for 29, 20, 18, and 10, scoring while defended for most of the game. Sometimes your opponent gets hot, and this is what happened this week.

Photos: David Kovich

A Look Ahead:

While the football team’s season has ended, basketball season will reawaken.

On Monday 1/3 Purdue hosts #24 Wisconsin, and then hits the road, going to Micah Schrewsbury’s Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday 1/8. We’re already into the guts of the basketball season. Time to take care of business!

Boiler Up! Hammer Down!

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 55 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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