With Iowa on deck, a look back at Purdue's last 5 games vs. top-5 opponents
The last time Purdue took on the country’s 2nd-ranked team, the Boilermakers pulled off a shocker, scoring a gigantic victory in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Nearly everything went right for Purdue that memorable night roughly 3 years ago, as David Blough, Rondale Moore and their teammates knocked off 2nd-ranked Ohio State. It improved the Boilermakers’ all-time record vs. top-5 opponents to 22-60.
Purdue gets another chance Saturday when it travels to play No. 2 Iowa in Iowa City as an 11-point underdog. As Purdue preps, let’s take a look back at its last 5 games vs. top-5 opponents:
No. 2 Ohio State • Oct. 20, 2018 • Ross-Ade Stadium
Result: W, 49-20
On a night Purdue fans are likely to remember forever, the Boilermakers shocked Ohio State, not only beating the Buckeyes but dominating them.
It seemed the stars were aligned.
With super fan and cancer fighter Tyler Trent in a suite in Ross-Ade Stadium — his story was a featured segment for ESPN’s College GameDay, in which the inspirational Purdue student boldly predicted a Boilermakers victory — Purdue throttled the Buckeyes in Jeff Brohm’s 2nd season in West Lafayette.
There was no shortage of stars: Trent family friend David Blough orchestrated the upset, throwing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back DJ Knox had 128 yards and 3 scores. Linebacker Markus Bailey, a Columbus native, helped to seal the win with a pick-6. But it was wide receiver Rondale Moore who became a star on the national stage, as he finished with 12 receptions for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. Then-OSU coach Urban Meyer can likely still see Moore running unabated in his secondary.
It’s hard to argue there was magic in the West Lafayette air on this chilly night in October. Led by Trent’s inspirational appearances in the Boilermakers’ locker room — the Indianapolis-area native was staving off cancer that would take his life months later — it was almost inevitable that the Boilermakers, as a 12-point underdog, would prevail.
No. 2 Michigan State • Oct. 3, 2015 • Spartan Stadium
Result: L, 24-21
Purdue had very little business even competing with Michigan State, let alone nearly pulling the upset.
Yet the Boilermakers, who were 1-3 under 3rd-year coach Darrell Hazell, had a chance on a miserable, rainy afternoon in East Lansing. Purdue couldn’t quite pull off the comeback, as Blough, then an inexperienced underclassman, saw his late fourth-quarter drive stall out near midfield.
The Boilermakers had rallied from down 21-0 at the half to make a game of it, thanks in large part to the play of running back Markell Jones, who was the best player on the field. He finished with 2 TDs and 157 yards rushing, many of which came after he had simply run over Spartans defenders. Jones had a 68-yard run early in the fourth quarter that pulled the Boilermakers to within a touchdown.
But Purdue couldn’t get into position to tie or win late, as Blough saw 3 straight passes fall incomplete with about a minute left after he had driven the Boilermakers to midfield. It was one of the rare highlights, even in a loss, of 2015, as Purdue finished 2-10.
No. 4 Ohio State • Nov. 2, 2013 • Ohio Stadium
Result: L, 56-0
In Hazell’s 8th game as Purdue’s head coach, the Buckeyes gave the Boilermakers a lesson in how far they’d need to go to compete with the best in the country.
Answer: A very, very long way.
Ohio State could have named its score in Ohio Stadium, dominating from start to finish. This one was ugly. Purdue, which was 1-7 after the loss, was no match for undefeated Ohio State. The Boilermakers had only 116 yards of total offense, 10 first downs and 2 turnovers, while giving up 640 yards. Yikes.
Quarterback Danny Etling was picked off on his first pass, which was returned for an OSU touchdown. The loss was the most lopsided in the history of the series. Purdue won only 1 game in 2013, a 20-14 final vs. lower-division Indiana State in Week 2.
No. 4 Ohio State • Oct. 6, 2007 • Ross-Ade Stadium
Result: L, 23-7
It’s been more than 14 years since then No. 23 Purdue’s game vs. 4th-ranked Ohio State in Ross-Ade Stadium, but that marks the last game that the Boilermakers were ranked in the AP Top 25.
Behind Curtis Painter, Dustin Keller and Dorien Bryant, Purdue started the season 5-0, racking up at least 45 points in each of its first 4 games before beating Notre Dame 33-19. It set up what the Boilermakers hoped would be a showdown vs. OSU, but it really wasn’t much of a battle.
Under the lights, Purdue avoided the shutout only with a Painter TD pass with 10 seconds left. Before that, the Buckeyes had largely controlled the Boilermakers’ offense, forcing Joe Tiller’s team to punt 12 times. Purdue won only twice in its final 7 regular-season games in ’07 but ended the year on a high note, beating Central Michigan (for the second time that season) 51-48 in the Motor City Bowl.
No. 4 Ohio State • Nov. 15, 2003 • Ohio Stadium
Result: L, 16-13 OT
Tiller would refer to Purdue’s 2003 loss at Ohio State as the most frustrating of his career.
The then-No. 11 Boilermakers had chance to upset the Buckeyes in The Horseshoe, but the usually-reliable Ben Jones twice missed field goals, the second in overtime, to give OSU the win. The Buckeyes scored their only touchdown when Kyle Orton fumbled in his own end zone; the play broke a 6-all tie early in the fourth quarter.
Orton led a late touchdown drive to help the Boilermakers tie the game at 13, then had a chance again to put his team in position to win in the last 2 minutes. But Orton fumbled on a sack, instead allowing OSU a last-second field goal. But Purdue linebacker Bobby Iwuchukwu blocked Mike Nugent’s last-play 41-yard attempt. The Ohio State kicker, however, provided the winning margin in the first overtime.
Purdue won 9 games in 2003, but the loss to Ohio State continued to sting Tiller long after he had retired as Purdue’s coach.