Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
In 1923, the University of Illinois recruited a young basketball player from Wheaton, Illinois. A tremendous athlete in his own right, he quit basketball, instead to concentrate on football. His name, was Red Grange.
Taking to football like a kingfisher to flying, Red Grange was a football savant who rushed the college football world by storm.
Grange’s great gait, grueling gains, garnered gilded glory. Gentlemen gazetteers glorified Grange. Gifted GOAT… Galloping Ghost.
Alliteration aside, The Original G, Red Grange brought Illinois to great heights. He is, absolutely one of the best players to ever step out there. He is a college and pro football hall of famer, and a Big Ten icon. Ever since he played for the Illini, all those generations ago, he has instilled one thing in the Illini faithful, 100 years after he tore the nation up.
His lasting legacy is the excessive pride and confidence instilled within the Illini sports fandom. Excessive, excessive pride and confidence. Excessive.
Flash forward a century, and the second coming of Red Grange is playing for Illinois. The nation’s leading rusher, Chase Brown, is an absolute unit of a running back. He is destroying teams in front of him. His performance, coupled with the number one defense in the nation, had the gazetteers glorifying the gritty grid-iron guys from Champaign. They were the story of the college football world. The greatest team in the Big Ten (despite losing to IU). They were unstoppable. The referees screwed the Illini against IU anyways, right? Not their fault at all.
Am I laying it on thick enough here? No?
While people in the Big Ten were rolling their eyes at these glory-gaggers, the national media folk kept heaping the praise onto the Illini. The fans of their program lapped it up, overfilling their already oversized beer mug of exceptional pride and confidence.
The Illini team? Well, they just lost to Michigan State. Don’t worry though. The referees screwed Illinois against the Spartans. Not their fault. The Illini were sure to steamroll the hapless Boilermakers. Extreme confidence in the performance against Purdue, a team they have been beaten by repeatedly over the past few years. Extreme confidence. Extreme pride.
So much confidence that the second coming of Red Grange struck the Heisman pose early in the game following a touchdown. Everything was going according to plan. Illinois = Alpha. Good grief.
The Game: Purdue 31, No. 21 Illinois 24
vaunted Purdue defense stymied the best running in the nation, holding him under 100 yards for the first time this season. Meanwhile, the overbearingly hyped Illini defense played handsy against the Purdue offense. Outwitted, the Illini had no choice but to commit pass interference regularly as confusion overtook their defensive personnel.
Aidan O’Connell had a relatively ho-hum game for him, passing for 237 yards and 3 touchdowns, including one ugly interception. He could have had a couple extra, if it wasn’t for the aforementioned handsy Illini defense. Interestingly, he torched the Illini defense with his feet, confusing them with his Michael Vick style running prowess. He averaged 16.5 yards per carry. Payne Durham led the way with 7 receptions for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Durham was too strong for the Illinois defense, carrying many of the
vaunted defenders for many yards after catch. TJ Sheffield added 6 receptions for 72 yards. Walk on, freshman Devin Mockobee ran for 106 and a touchdown, providing a huge boost from the Purdue backfield.
Defensively, Purdue garnered 2 sacks, but 5 tackles for loss, and a Kieren Douglass interception. Sanoussi Kane led the way with 9 tackles, with OC Brothers adding 8. Despite having the best running back in the nation, the Illinois offense struggled.
Purdue out gained, out rushed, out passed, and out performed the number 21 team in the nation. Despite the ESPN broadcast nearly exclusively talking about the Illini defense and Chase Brown, Purdue prevailed. In fact, it was almost humorous that when they would hand the ball off to Brown, the announcers would say “They hand it off to the nation’s leading rusher… who is tackled for a gain of two.”
As for the nation’s leading rusher, “Mr. Heisman Pose” as the cool kids are calling him… He ended the game with a respectable 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Fortunately for the Boilermakers, he was outgained by a freshman walk-on. A guy who didn’t strike the Heisman pose. 106>98.
Heisman pose indeed.
On que, postgame the Illini social media are blaming the officiating. Sunrise. Sunset. Water is wet. Excessive pride and confidence. Not Illinois’ fault, its the officials.
Break It Down:
Were the officials bad in this game? Absolutely. The whistles came late, causing excessive emotions in the game. They allowed extensive jawing and trash talking after the plays.
Purdue was called for 80 yards in penalties, an excessive amount, including compounding unsportsmanlike penalties which were only called on Purdue, despite both teams jawing. Likewise, a standard defensive line shift led to an errant snap, and an intentional grounding, only for the Boilers to be called for a “Disconcerting Signals” signals. Beneficial for the Illini.
As for Illinois? They were called for 121 yards in penalties. Some of which were 50/50 calls. What shifted them into Purdue’s favor was the fact that the Illini were, as I said earlier, very handsy. The “in your face” overly-confident man defense had Illinois being physical on nearly every passing play. Likewise, the chippy nature of the game led to some extra-curricular activities, and late hits that weren’t called. Like when Devin Mockobee had his forward progress stopped at the 5 yard-line, with the whistle being blown then. He finally hit the ground, near the 20 yard line, out of bounds. Slammed 15 yards behind the play, multiple seconds following the whistle. Not called, mind you. I guess, what I am suggesting, is that Illinois probably should have been called for a few more penalties that they got the benefit of the doubt on… but you know… ref’s fault.
As for Purdue, the Boilermakers slide back into the thick of things, and bounce back from a weak showing the past few weeks. If Purdue wins out, and Iowa loses a game… We could still see Purdue representing the Big Ten West in Indianapolis. Pretty ridiculous to say!
Oh, There Is Also Basketball!:
Matt Painter’s squad started off the season with two victories over sub-par quality opponents to start the season.
Milwaukee 53, Purdue 84:
Led by unproven freshmen Purdue won this game by a margin which was not as close as the final score indicated. Fletcher Loyer led the way with 17 points in his Boilermaker debut. Brandon Newman looked sharp with 16 points. Braden Smith had 7 steals and 4 assists in his first game at point guard.
Austin Peay 44, Purdue 63:
Purdue shot horrid against Peay, accomplishing only 10.5% from deep. This type of shooting is something that is unheard of from a Boiler squad, and hopefully the outlier. Luckily, Zach Edey had a monster game going 12/13 from the floor, pulling in 30 points and 11 rebounds, in 31 minutes.
Photos: Dave Kovich
Break it Down:
Purdue has done what they need to do in order to win the two games against overmatched foes. The first game, Purdue’s front court didn’t play well, and Purdue won by a ton. The second game, Purdue’s back court didn’t play well, and Purdue won by nearly 20.
This is a “new look” offense for the Boilermakers, and it is going to feature some good games and some painful ones. The good news is that Purdue looks improved on the defensive end. Likewise, there have been multiple floor burns already this season, as the aggression is leading to hustle. Boilers are diving for the ball, showing that the little things are starting become the “common things” for this young team.
Big Man On Campus:
Payne Durham dragged Illinois all over the field. His 70 yards, and 2 touchdowns were huge in the defeat of the Illini. I think that he has been underutilized this season, but when he has been used, he has been incredibly productive.
Looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.
One More Thing:
My wife and I put up an owl house this weekend. I mounted it on a juvenile maple tree in my back yard. While that means absolutely nothing to you, as a sports fan, I’ll have you know that it means very much to my wife. I guess me too, because I am a supportive husband.
Owls are really cool, and my wife is subtly hinting, but joking, that I talk about it in my weekly column, so here we are.
What people may not know about me is that I have a day job that doesn’t include media stuff. I work in industrial settings, and I have worked closely with some very interesting (to me) charismatic fauna. I have worked closely with peregrine falcons, hawks, snow owls, coyotes, beavers, deer… You get it.
My wife and I get a kick out of making our property a haven for wildlife. We don’t own a ton of land, and we live in a small, one stoplight town. We have a decent sized lot, with some soon to be decent sized trees. We love to let nature enjoy our presence.
I refuse to get political in these articles, and in any of my other media that I put out there. I will leave you alone in that regards. I love being left alone, too. I will slide in a little bit of unsolicited life advice, as I am getting older. I will say this: there is something very therapeutic about the sun shining, the birds-a-chirpin’, the trees growing, the fresh air of a country road on a crisp fall day. A rocks glass filled with spirits and the soul of mother nature filling each of our lungs. Let’s all make our own bit of heaven on hearth.
Our little dinky owl house is one step closer to that.
A Look Ahead:
The Purdue Football Boilermakers take on Northwestern, at home, on Saturday for a Nooner. This is Senior Night, so if you have an opportunity, pack the stands against the Wildcats! As of the writing of this article, Purdue is a 17.5 point favorite.
The Basketball Boilermakers host Marquette for the (approximate) five hundredth time in the Gavit Games on Tuesday for a 8:30 tip. As of the writing of this article, there is no line against the Golden Eagles, but Purdue will more than likely be a fairly safe favorite.
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