Aidan O’Connell didn’t practice until Thursday.

Typically, that’s a light day for Purdue, and was again this week in preparation for the team’s trip to Minnesota. But the veteran quarterback was trying to cram for the Golden Gophers, hoping he could jam as much into a couple days, and start to feel better too, before Saturday’s noon kickoff.

Although O’Connell never looked completely dialed in vs. Minnesota, as he deals with an undisclosed upper body injury, he did just enough to help the Boilermakers to a 20-10 upset victory in Minneapolis, Purdue’s 1st win there since 2007 (and the 1st outdoors in the Twin Cities since the Nixon administration).

But in grinding it out — he threw for 199 yards, including a 28-yarder to Charlie Jones to set up a go-ahead field goal in the 4th quarter, but also 2 interceptions — O’Connell changed the perception of the Boilermakers going forward. Purdue, at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten, has to be considered as good a contender in the Big Ten West as anyone else, considering no one seems to want to step to the forefront.

A week ago, not many would have guessed that to be the talk now.

Instead, Purdue looked mediocre, at best, in squeaking out a 28-26 victory over FAU. Purdue was lucky to escape, most were thinking then, having won in ugly fashion while committing some of the same mistakes that had been costly in losses to Penn State and Syracuse.

But now, after Purdue played its most complete game of the season, it’s easy to look at the modest 2-game winning streak in a different — and much more positive — light. In only a few weeks, the Boilermakers have gone from finding ways to lose to finding ways to win.

The Boilermakers made winning plays in the 4th quarter, from the defense’s consecutive 3rd-down stops to O’Connell’s 28-yarder to Jones to set up Mitchell Fineran’s go-ahead field goal, to Devin Mockobee’s game-sealing 68-yard run and ensuing TD, to Cam Allen’s game-ending interception. And Purdue did so without the crippling mistakes, many of them mental, that had cost it during the losses to Penn State and Syracuse and the closer-than-desired win over FAU.

Credit to Jeff Brohm and his staff. Against the Owls a week ago, Purdue had to game-plan for its backup quarterback Austin Burton, while also missing 3 others starters on offense (receiver Broc Thompson, running back King Doerue and right tackle Cam Craig) and 2 on defense (linebacker/safety/nickel Jalen Graham and cornerback Reese Taylor). One one hand, you can count the teams in the country that can overcome the loss of a half-dozen starters: Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and perhaps a couple others?

But it’s only now, after Purdue won again still down 4 starters — O’Connell came back Saturday, but with his health at about 70 percent, it appeared, as he lacked the typical zip on his passes and was without his usually spot-on accuracy and decision-making — that Brohm’s job can be truly appreciated.

Purdue found ways to win.

Brohm stuck with O’Connell through the mid-game hiccups, thinking his veteran quarterback could figure it out, as he’s had a knack for doing during his career. He leaned in on a defense that was stacked up to stop the run and did so, holding the country’s 2nd-best rushing offense to only 47 yards (and less than 2 yards per carry) and making Tanner Morgan try to beat them. The 6th-year quarterback couldn’t, tossing 3 interceptions instead.

And Brohm showed faith in his running game, namely emerging back (and potential star?) Mockobee, by letting the walk-on — let’s get him some NIL money, could we? — try to run out the clock. But Mockobee did more than that, with his crazy-legs run through the Gophers’ defense on his way to a near-70-yard run.

As a result, Purdue scores an upset in a game that felt must-win if the Boilermakers were to have a chance to win the West. Is Purdue the favorite? Nah. But who is? Illinois picked up a solid win at Wisconsin, so maybe the Fighting Illini shock from their previous hold on the cellar. Minnesota is likely to bounce back, as are the Badgers. Iowa? It’s offensive.

Brohm was asked after the victory: Why not Purdue?

He didn’t have much of an answer.

But yeah, why not?