Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.
Coming off of a successful feast week, which saw the Purdue basketball team run wild on the Maui Invitational, there was one more athletic feat in which the Burly Boilermakers needed to take care of. That’s right, the Old Oaken Bucket game, against the Indiana Creamy Crimson.
I’ve always liked the Bucket Game. I have gone to twenty some odd of them by this point, maybe one or two less… but that’s my approximate experience level. There is something unique about this (one sided) rivalry which is always a fun atmosphere, even as two 3-win teams are duking it out.
After a spur of the moment decision by my wife, 4 tickets fell into our hands, so we bundled up and headed to Ross Ade to finish the Thanksgiving weekend off right.
This was my wife’s first Bucket Game, so she didn’t know what to expect. Shes seen my antics at normal regular season games, but nothing against IU. I told her that the crowd is much more fun when IU rolls into town, and that it will be very entertaining.
On the whole it was. A nearly full Ross Ade Stadium looked great! Our little section in the North Endzone had your normal group of Purdue faithful. Scattered upon us were some nice IU fans who generally had nice, light-hearted trash talk in the areas around us. They dished it, and they took it. As two fanbases should be able to, laugh about a relatively inconsequential football game, against two bowl ineligible programs. There were many laughs, and some very creative jokes tossed about. It was a good time.
In order to keep identities clear, we decided to nickname the IU fans around us. The “Godfather” was behind me. He was clearly amongst his family who happened to be Purdue fans. Nice guy, rowdy, reasonable. In front of us there was “Corduroy” who, as you guessed it, wore corduroy pants. Good sport, obnoxious, but in a funny way. A few rows ahead of them, the “Triplets” were three Indiana sorority types who scored front row tickets in order to get unobscured Instagram pictures, but had no idea what was going on during the game. With them were two dudes. One we named “The Brick”. He was shaped like a brick, with a similar personality. The other one? Well, he ended up being the problem boy in the section.
“Earmuffs” made sure that he made his presence felt. He was one of -those- fans. The tall, ken-doll looking, ‘my dad is a lawyer’ type sported, you guessed it, earmuffs as to not disrupt his perfectly coiffed, brilliantly feathered, highlighted hair. With every positive play by IU, he turned from the front row, to mock any Purdue fan behind him. Like a professional wrestling heel, he mocked the crowd, urging dissonance with every snap of the ball. Arms spread like Ric Flair, nose turned up in disgust, he was a problem from the opening kickoff.
The “Godfather” quickly disavowed any claim to be allied with “Earmuffs”. “I’m not with that guy, he sucks.” Mr. “Godfather” even started jeering the IU villain as the game went on.
Sometime while IU was up by 10 points, “Earmuffs” started picking screaming matches with a woman behind him, but in front of me. Words were getting heated, voices were getting raised. On field security came from on the field and de-escalated the situation. One of the “Triplets” was belittling him “Calm the [expletive] down, you’re not tough!” Much to the hilarity and audible laughing of the surrounding folks both wearing Old Gold and those wearing Crimson. The “Brick” stared, like a brick would. Earmuffs, clearly embarrassed by being justifiably emasculated, didn’t know where to vent his frustrations.
Shortly after that… Devin Mockobee scored a TD. Trying to save face, embarrassed by security calming his hissy fit down, “Earmuffs” tried to mock once again. Other IU fans had shut up. They new what was comin.
Shortly after that… The game was tied. “Earmuffs” was motionless.
Shortly after that… IU took a 3 point lead. No IU fans around me even cheered, except “Earmuffs”. He once again hulked-up, hurling his own brand of curse laden vitriol. He was laughed at by Purdue fans, shouted down by the reasonable IU fans around us. The reasonable IU fans knew what was coming.
When Hudson Card walked into the endzone, “Earmuffs” hung his head. The type of disappointment that you only get when your parents bought you a BMW for your 16th birthday, instead of a Mercedes. I wouldn’t know that disappointment, but I am sure “Earmuffs” did.
When Sorsby ate the intentional grounding on 4th down, effectively ending the game, “Earmuffs” had enough. He collected the “Triplets” and the “Brick” and stormed up the aisle. Dozens of Purdue fans, and a handful of IU fans, gave him the fond “goodbye” that he earned on Saturday. Words of farewell, hand gestures, and wise cracks followed. The sports walk of shame is never a fun one, especially against a rival, when you’ve been -that- fan all game. If he was sober enough to remember it, he probably won’t forget that walk up the aisle.
Heres why I have gone on-and-on about this whole situation. Rivalries are fun. They are. The “Godfather” and I threw insults at each other in a kind hearted way. We laughed and fist bumped throughout the game. “Corduroy” laughed along side of us. He handed it out, and he took it in good spirit. The “Triplets” were just having fun, enjoying the day. Left, right, up, down, people were laughing and enjoying a chilly but nice football Saturday between two rivals. This is what the game is all about. We all were in this together. IU, Purdue, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, fathers, and sons… we all laughed and had a good time. There is something very real about that type of cross-rival bond. Something uniquely Indiana. The type of experience that you can only experience in front of a 100 year old wooden bucket, with a brass chain inside of it. Experiences
Likewise, we all laughed at “Earmuffs”. Don’t be “Earmuffs”.
A slow start to the game, led to some fireworks down the stretch as Hudson Card carried the offense.
Hudson Card passed for 275 yards and 3 TD, while also leading the team in rushing with 85 yards, and the game winning touchdown in the final minutes. George Burhenn, Devin Mockobee, and Drew Biber all received for touchdowns.
Defensively, Purdue was led by soon to be Freshman All American Dillon Thieneman, with 8 tackles, and 2 interceptions. Cam Allen also added an athletic interception later in the game. Scourton, Jenkins, Steptoe, and Karlaftis all had 5 or more tackles, with Scorton adding 2 sacks.
Break It Down:
Purdue looked awful to start the game, but luckily they were playing a program like Indiana, which provided ample opportunity for a comeback. Hudson Card looked like the player we were promised throughout the preseason, and the defense (although shaky at times) made plays when needed.
All Purdue fans knew this season was going to be a challenge. A new coach, with the cupboard left bare, Ryan Walters had his work cut out for him. A bowl game is always the goal for Purdue, but 2023 wasn’t about going to a bowl.
The 2023 season was about showing growth. About gaining experience for the young coaching staff and players. This season was about developing an identity, about fostering a new culture.
Yes, 4 victories is disappointing. Especially when there were multiple wins left on the field that the Boilermakers should have won. None the less, Coach Walters showed growth this season, which is exactly what Purdue needed. The defense improved. The offense figured some things out despite having a makeshift offensive line. New faces stepped up. That’s what Purdue needed this year.
What Went Well:
- Freshman All American: Dillon Thieneman, has the most tackles and interceptions by a freshman in Purdue history. This is a program that had players like, Rod Woodson and Stu Schweigert… so that is pretty darn impressive.
- Hudson Card: Looked like a stud this week, playing this game with a significant injury to his left ribcage. Every pass, every run, every hit must have been incredibly painful. Still made IU look lost. Incredible performance.
- Purdue Faithful: Showed out! Ross Ade Stadium was near 100% capacity, on Thanksgiving break, to watch two 3 win teams, when the weather was in the 30s. If this game was played at IU, you wouldn’t have seen 1/5th of that amount of fans.
Off Season Opportunities for Improvement:
- Offense: Boilermakers need to focus on building depth at the offensive line. Likewise adding a playmaker at WR to replace TJ Sheffield should be a priority.
- Defense: Boilers are looking to add depth in the secondary. Depleted by injuries, Purdue was playing WR backups to cover passes. Also look to find more defensive playmakers who fit Walter’s style.
- Special Teams: Saturday alone, Purdue gave up a return TD, missed a chip shot field goal, and missed an extra point. 11 points left on the board. That is the difference between winning by 4 and winning by 15. The difference between “Earmuffs” getting his sendoff in the final minutes, as opposed to in the 3rd quarter.
Big Man on Campus:
Hudson Card’s 275 yards, 3 TD, 85 yards rushing with 1 TD performance was herculean. Mind you, Card did this coming off a week which he was injured, playing with an active rib injury. Card made IU look like they were in slow motion on Saturday. Very excited to see what he can do with a fully functional OL, and a summer to heal up.
Purdue-IU Photo Gallery by Mark Elsner: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/PurdueFootball/2023/Indiana/
Purdue Plays Basketball Too!:
Did you know that the #2 Purdue Boilermakers went to Maui and stormed the most loaded holiday tournament in history?
Zach Edey was named tournament MVP after manhandling the competition all week. Braden Smith was on All-Tournament Team, after a tremendous showing from the sophomore.
The three games of the tournament were:
- #2 Purdue 73; #11 Gonzaga 63: A back and forth affair early, led to Purdue finding their groove, and never looking back. Zach Edey had 25 & 14. Braden Smith and Lance Jones each had 13 points to boost the Boilermakers.
- #2 Purdue 71; #7 Tennessee 67: More of a football game than actual basketball game, the officiating in this game was atrocious. Both teams in this tilt have a legitimate claim that the officiating took their teams out of sequence, as the violence shown in this tilt was more closely related to a WWE Royal Rumble match. Fletcher Loyer led the way with 27 points. Zach Edey added 23 & 10.
- #2 Purdue 78; #4 Marquette 75: Purdue led the majority of the game, at one point leading by as many as 15 points. A late run by Marquette put a scare into the Boilermakers, but they held on to win. Zach Edey had 28pts and 16 rebounds, with Smith, Loyer, and Jones all scoring in double digits to lead the Boilermakers to the Maui Invitational tournament.
What Does This All Mean?:
It means that Purdue is back to back to back November National Champions! I say that mostly tongue in cheek as there is no such thing. However, Purdue is clearly the best team -currently- in all of college basketball.
With #1 Kansas losing in the very same Maui tournament, Purdue will become the #1 team in the nation for the third year in a row. Interesting note, no other (current) Big Ten team has ever accomplished that feat. Purdue will be the Furst.
What is even more interesting, is the fact that Purdue has yet to really hit their stride. The past two seasons, Purdue was playing perfect basketball in November. This season, far from it. It is kind of scary how much this already elite team can continue to grow.
None the less, Purdue learned some lessons this week which will help them as the year goes on. They won a game where they started slow and turned it on in the second half. They won a game in which the officiating was incredibly abhorrent. They won a game against a team that surged late, holding them at arm’s distance. Just so happens that those teams were the #11, #7, and #4 teams in the nation. That is pretty good!
Purdue Vollyball Starts Their Journey:
Dave Schondell’s Purdue Women’s Volleyball team got their NCAA tournament draw, garnering a 3 seed, a good output for such a young but successful team. Purdue will host Fairfield on Thursday. Tickets can be purchased by the general public at https://purduesports.com/ 10AM Monday, so pack Holloway if you are able!
If Purdue is able to advance beyond Fairfield, they are on a collision course with Marquette. If you remember way back on September 1st, Purdue played Marquette as part of the Kansas Invitational. The Boilers came out with a narrow, 5 set victory in a thrilling matchup against the Golden Eagles.
Best of luck to the Boilers going forward!!
A Look Ahead:
With the Oaken Bucket victory, Purdue’s season comes to an end. The Old Oaken Bucket stays for yet another year, with its rightful owners.
The (soon to be) #1 Purdue Boilermakers have two games this week. They take on Texas Southern at home on Tuesday 11/28. Purdue should be a huge favorite in this one. On Friday 12/1 Purdue travels north to Northwestern, a place where Chris Collins
grabbed Fletcher Loyer as he was trying to make a cut during the final moments of the game led his team to victory over the Boilermakers last season. Purdue should be a favorite in this game as well, but you know what kind of madness happens in Ryan Arena. We shall see!
Either way, a great week to be a Boilermaker! Here’s to another one!
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