There’s still a lot of work to do, but Purdue is that much closer to a B1G West title after a 31-24 win over No. 21 Illinois.

The battle for the Cannon Trophy was chippy, but Purdue’s defense was able to outplay the noted defense of the Illini to come out on top and claim the tiebreaker in a tight race for a trip to Indianapolis.

Kieren Douglas put the nail in the coffin for the Illini, intercepting a quick slant from quarterback Tommy DeVito on their final effort to tie things up. Instead, the Boilermakers were able to hit a field goal as insurance.

The defense came up big when it needed to. The offense was led by 3 star players Saturday: Aidan O’Connell, Payne Durham and Devin Mockobee.

Let’s start with Mockobee. He rushed for 106 yards and 1 touchdown on the day, including this scamper to put the Boilermakers on the board.

He was running angry all afternoon, rivaling Illinois running back Chase Brown on the other side of things. For what it’s worth, Purdue was able to keep the nation’s leading rusher under 100 yards rushing, though he did score 2 touchdowns on the afternoon.

Durham was the most impressive player on the field Saturday afternoon. Purdue’s first lead of the afternoon came off a Durham toe tap, one that had some believing there was no way he came down with it on first glance.

But he was far from done. Durham also caught the final touchdown of the day for the Boilermakers, another go-ahead touchdown from the right arm of Aidan O’Connell.

ย Durham is now up 6 touchdown receptions on the season, adding to his total with 7 receptions for 70 yards and 2 clutch touchdown catches.

And of course, that’s not possible without O’Connell’s efforts. The gunslinger was incredible when it mattered, throwing for 237 yards, 3 touchdowns and just 1 interception against an elite Illinois secondary.

As stated earlier, Saturday was as chippy as a football game could be. Both teams combined for 18 penalties, with the Illini fielding most of the egregious ones. There were a couple of times a drive was extended after an Illinois stop, leading to a Purdue score.

Below is the most glaring instance. Devon Witherspoon jumped in front of an O’Connell pass for an interception before the half, but it was called back for a phantom pass interference.

The next play, O’Connell took advantage.

That seemed to provide a boon for the Boilermakers heading into the 2nd half. They came out of the locker room a different team, and they made Illinois pay.

Purdue faces Indiana and Northwestern to end the year. The B1G West is wild, let’s see how it plays out.