10/3/2022 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Goofy Gopher Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

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

Heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend that Minnesota was going to destroy the Boilermakers.

I heard it. You heard it. The whole world heard it. For some reason, every national media member adopted Minnesota and their quirky coach as the darling baby of the NCAA. Like any proud parent, showing off their new bundle of huggable goodness, the ESPNs of the world, the podcaster bunch, the blogger boys, they all just exalted Minnesota as the second coming of Craig T Nelson winning championships in the land of a thousand and one lakes.

Never mind that they haven’t played anyone worth a damn. Never mind that their opponent’s record is somewhere between steaming and hot trash. This lovable, star studded, snuggle bug of a precious media darling was more beloved than the Baby from the 90s hit sitcom series “Dinosaurs”.

Well, if you’ve ever watched Dinosaurs, like all Americans -SHOULD-, then you know the simple truth of the matter… The baby was the antagonist of that show. Sure, it doesn’t look like it at face value, but the try-hard, make a scene, cute for the sake of cute, quirky baby dinosaur was simply overbearing. He’s the PJ Fleck of andromorphic dinosaurs. Sorry, I’ve digressed.

“Purdue is playing poorly lately, and their QB is hurt, there’s no chance of them winning,” you probably say. Quite literally, YOU probably said that. “Minnesota is far too good. Brohm should’ve been fired two weeks ago.” Some of you others probably said, or tweeted.

The message continued and continued. It ricocheted around the sports media and twitter echo chambers. Hell, the two ESPN commentators spoke EXCLUSIVELY of Minnesota pregame, casually mentioning that Purdue was the just next minor inconvenience to an inevitable Goofer Gopher undefeated season. Ok, maybe that last part is an exaggeration. Either way, the commentators laid it on THICK. It was diabetes inducing how much sugar they sprinkled onto the Gophers.

We all know what happened next.

Purdue played one of their worst games of the season, and defeated Minnesota by 2 scores on the road.

The Game: Purdue 20, No. 21 Minnesota 10

Did you folks hear that Minnesota RB Mo Ibrahim didn’t play? I am not sure if you heard. Mo Ibrahim did not play. The aforementioned announcers mentioned it approximately every Minnesota offensive possession in the first half. He didn’t play. They asked every possible question as to why he wasn’t playing. Gave every possible scenario as to what was happening. They gushed about it. They talked about it instead of the action on the field.

I get it. It is a big deal. He’s their best player. Meanwhile, there is a football game being played.

On the field, however, Purdue’s quarterback was playing at a fraction of his capacity due to injury, and Purdue was forced to lean on their backup running backs, one of whom is a walk on freshman.

Aidan O’Connell struggled coming off of the injury, passing for 199 yards and 0 TD, with 2 interceptions. He was lifted by 112 yards of rushing by Devin Mockobee, including the game winning TD. Dylan Downing added 32 yards and a TD.

Defensively, Purdue provided one of the best performances that anyone could ask for. The Boilers picked off Tanner Morgan 3 times, and allowed only 47 yards total rushing from Minnesota. Boilers as a whole tallied 2 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 19 different players recorded tackles. An all around gutty performance, Purdue took advantage of Minnesota mistakes all day.

Break It Down:

What a difference a week makes, right? Many Purdue fans were ready to bail out on the program just a week prior. Coming off a less than impressive victory against Florida Atlantic, Purdue was struggling. Fans were struggling.

If you didn’t look at the big picture at this moment, I understand why fans would be upset leading into this game. Purdue was losing games that they were in position to win. They were barely beating teams that they should have destroyed.

On the flip side, Purdue continues to be, literally less than two or three plays away from currently being undefeated. They are better than their record. This game shows it.

What Went Well:

  • Defense Travels: The Purdue defense balled out, carrying this team to victory. Timely interceptions, huge defensive stands, forcing 5 punts, a turnover on downs, and only allowed (as ESPN told us) the greatest offense in the history of football to score twice. No bad against a ranked opponent on the road.
  • My Man Mitch: Mitchell Fineran hit two field goals this week after missing a few the past couple weeks. We know that he is an excellent kicker, but his confidence has been shaken recently. Glad to see him back on the right side of things.
  • Run Devin Run: For the second straight week, Purdue eclipsed the 100 yard mark. This week Devin Mockobee himself had 112 yards. His lights out run, late in the game, broke the back of the Gopher defense. He probably doesn’t know this, but after he punched the ball in late in the game, the stream of Gopher faithful leaving the gates was something to behold.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Get Healthy: Purdue is in desperate need to get healthy. With the bye week still out in the distance, our Boilermaker heroes will need to be on the mend. Aidan O’Connell had a rough showing, as he is still recovering from a presumed rib injury. King Doerue is still sidelined with a lower body injury. Jalen Graham continues to be sidelined. Boilers need to catch a break.
  • Stale: Purdue, for whatever reason, has settled into a pattern of having their offense go stale for two or more quarters at a time. Jeff Brohm is supposed to be an offensive genius. Needs to continue to remind the Boiler-faithful why he has earned that reputation.

Big Men on Campus:

Normally I choose just one young man for this honor. Occasionally I choose two. This week? Big Three!

Cam Allen had 2 crucial interceptions. Jacob Wahlberg added another. Devin Mockobee broke the century mark rushing.

All three came up big! Purdue needed someone to step up, and they did!

One More Thing:

As the ESPN crew continued their Minnesota love-fest throughout the game, they brought up that Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck reads a children’s book that fits the weekly “theme” to his team every Friday night before the game.

That is weird.

The announcer continued that Fleck would not name the book that he read this week, because it was too embarrassing to admit on television.

Right. The book is the embarrassing part of this whole scenario. Not the grown-ass adult story time.

I’m betting the book was “The Puppy Who Lost His Way.”

Probably should have been “The Little Engine Who Could.”

A Look Ahead:

It doesn’t get much easier for the Boilermakers next week. The good guys continue their road trip traveling to unranked but impressive Maryland. The Terrapins have shown some good resolve early this season, and have been battling in the tough east.

The noon kickoff has Maryland as a 3.5 pt favorite as of the writing of this article.

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 93 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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