As we count down the weeks until Purdue's season-opening game against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 1, we look back on the greatest games, players, coaches and performances in Boilermaker history.
We begin this week, 12 weeks from kickoff, with the 12 best games in Purdue history.
No. 12 -- Not as planned
Purdue 28, Ohio State 23; Oct. 6, 1984
There was no way that Purdue caught No. 2-ranked Ohio State totally by surprise.
After all, it had beaten No. 8 Notre Dame in the dedication game of the Hoosier Dome to open the season, and had played the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes to the wire. Important conference wins at home against Minnesota and at Michigan State had the Boilermakers off to a 3-1 overall start and a 2-0 mark in the Big Ten.
Still, it probably was hard for the powerful Buckeyes to take Purdue as seriously as they should have. The Boilers were picked to go nowhere in 1984.
Early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jim Everett, who completed 17-of-23 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns, led a scoring drive that would stake Purdue to a 21-17 lead with 14:03 left.
Just over three minutes later, Rod Woodson stepped in front of a Mike Tomczak-pass and sprinted 55 yards down the sidelines with 10:03 left. Ross-Ade Stadium was total bedlam as Purdue went up 28-17.
The Buckeyes were far from finished and continued driving down the field at will. Once again, OSU would take to the air near the Purdue goal line, this time defensive back Kennedy Wilson tipped a pass away on fourth down to stop OSU.
Despite Ray Wallace's fine rushing performance (89 yards in 20 carries), Purdue was unable to eat up much clock in the fourth quarter. OSU cashed in to cut the lead to 28-23 with 2:38 left on a five-yard pass from Tomczak to Carter, but failed on a two-point conversion try.
Ohio State would get another chance. With 1:34 left and the ball on the OSU 17, Tomczak completed five-straight passes, the last one a seven yarder to Byers leaving the Bucks with fourth down at the Purdue 34. Tomczak, in the frenzy of trying to stop the clock, lost track of downs (it didn't hurt that the change gang was slow in changing the down marker either) and threw the ball out-of-bounds to stop the clock with five seconds left. But it was fourth down.
That is when a mini-riot erupted in Ross-Ade. With toilet paper burning in the North end zone and the students storming the field for the first of three times in '84, Purdue had one its more improbable victories.
The Rationale Behind The Ranking
This game gets slotted slightly higher than the Jim Young-era victories for three reasons. First, it was because of the sheer shock value of the victory. Second, Ohio State was higher ranked than any opponent Purdue beat in the Young era. Thirdly, it delivered Purdue to a bowl game and into the national rankings (14th) if only for a week. Purdue would not be ranked again for 13 years.
The '84 season was an oasis in the desert of losing football from 1981-1996. It featured some of the most exciting football played in the last five decades of the program.
No. 11 -- Showing dedication
Purdue 23, Notre Dame 21; Sept. 8, 1984
Coach Leon Burtnett knew he better right the ship and fast. There were serious questions in the Purdue community whether Leon had what it took to be a head coach. Since taking over for Jim Young prior to the 1982 season, there was little done in terms of on-field performance to dispel that notion.
For whatever reason, Purdue got off to a fast start in the 1984 season-opener - well, sort of. The first time he touched the ball as a collegian on the game's opening kickoff, Irish freshman Tim Brown fumbled. Brown, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1987, gave quarterback Jim Everett great field position.
In his first drive, however, the Boilermakers could not punch it in and had to settle for a 31-yard Mike Rendina field goal.
The crowd of 60,672 at the Dedication Game of the Hoosier Dome, as the facility was called at the time, was a little uneasy.
A comfort level returned to the Irish hopeful pretty quickly, however, as the Irish scored a couple of first quarter touchdowns to take a 14-3 lead. It was looking like Notre Dame was going to have little trouble covering the 19-point favorite spread it was given by odds-makers.
After the first quarter, the Irish began to fall apart. Purdue got on the board as Everett began to get more comfortable. Jeff Price caught a seven-yard scoring pass from Everett to cut the lead to 14-10 at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter.
Everett, who was named Sports Illustrated National Offensive Player-of-the-Week for his performance, completed 20 of 28 passes for 255 yards and two scores. His most important attribute for the game, however, was the sense he was in control.
In the closing moments of the first half, he deftly maneuvered the Boilers down field allowing for a short Rendina field goal with no time on the clock. Though Purdue still trailed 14-13 it went into the locker room with something that had been missing from the team for a couple of years-confidence.
Rendina, in his first game after transferring from Florida State, booted his third and final short field goal to give Purdue a 16-14 lead with 3:47 left in the third quarter. The Boilermakers got the ball back again, and this time Everett found Price again on a perfect 14-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to give Purdue a 23-14 lead with 13:57 left.
The Irish, and quarterback Steve Beuerlein, rallied to cut the margin to 23-21 with 4:21 left on a six-yard run by Pinkett.
But Beuerlein committed what seemed like an unforced error with the Irish in possession and the game in the closing minutes. On a screen pass, Purdue defensive end Don Baldwin stepped in front of the casually-thrown aerial and intercepted it sealing the Purdue win.
The Rationale Behind The Ranking
To beat Notre Dame in Indianapolis was huge for the Purdue football program and spawned of the great turnaround seasons in the last 50 years. The Boilermakers' good fortune did last much more than one year, but this victory was both shocking and sweet making it worthy of its high ranking on the list.
No. 10 -- A couple votes short
Purdue 21, Indiana 16; Nov. 22, 1952
Heading into the game annual Old Oaken Bucket Game with Indiana, the Boilermakers needed a lot of chips to fall the right way in order to claim a Big Ten title and possibly earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.
The Boilermakers were 3-3-2 overall, but 3-1-1 in Big Ten play. Michigan, which had beaten Purdue the previous week, and Wisconsin were atop the league standings with 4-1-1 marks. Minnesota, led by legendary back Paul Giel, entered the final weekend with a 3-1-1 league ledger.
Purdue, which was a 14-point favorite, jumped to a 14-0 lead in the game's first 10 minutes on a nine-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dale Samuels to Rex Brock and a touchdown run by fullback Max Schmaling.
IU responded by scoring two second-quarter touchdowns and added a safety after tackling Max Schmaling in the end zone for the only points of the third quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter Purdue took possession at its own 34. With a muddy field and nasty wind ahead of them, the Boilermakers started on their victory march. On third-and-3 from the IU 24, Rex Brock made one of the more memorable runs over the last 50 years by cutting up the middle into the corner of the end zone to give Purdue a 21-16 lead with 9:38 left in the game.
In the closing seconds of the game IU made it more than a little bit interesting. The game came down to the final play as Indiana, at the Purdue 7, tried to run little "Petey" Fisher on a quick pitch, but he was met by a host of Boilermaker defenders at the 5.
The Boilers were Big Ten champs with about five yards to spare. The game results from Madison and Columbus had just been announced, setting off a celebration. Ohio State knocked Michigan out of the Rose Bowl with a 27-7 upset. Minnesota played favorite Wisconsin to a 21-21 tie. The Boilermakers' victory over Indiana left them deadlocked with Wisconsin for the conference crown.
The Badgers and Boilermakers, who didn't play one another during the regular season, had not played in the Rose Bowl since the Big Ten began its agreement with the Pacific Coast Conference on Nov. 19, 1946. So for the first time since the agreement began, the conference athletic directors would have to take a serious vote on the Rose Bowl representative.
In the end the Big Ten ADs picked Wisconsin. Newspaper reports of the day indicated the vote was 7-3 or 6-4.
The Rationale Behind The Ranking
The wild events that surrounded this game that ultimately resulted in Purdue getting a share of one of three conference titles in the last 50 years make this game worthy of a top-10 position. The Boilers were denied a trip to Pasadena, but it was truly the closest the Boilermakers had been to getting to the Rose Bowl until they eventually made in 14 years later.
No. 9 -- Making it to No. 1
Purdue 25, Notre Dame 21; Sept. 25, 1965
There have been plenty of great quarterback performances in Purdue's history, but they all probably still fall short of what Bob Griese did to top-ranked Notre Dame on that beautiful September day in 1965 in Ross-Ade Stadium.
There were few flaws in Griese's performance. He connected on 19-of-22 passes for a school-record 283 yards and three touchdowns. He also engineered a game-winning drive that took just four plays and covered 67 yards after the Irish had taken a 21-18 lead with 5:22 left in the contest. While scrambling from intense pressure by the Irish defense throughout the contest, Griese also managed to gain 39 yards rushing to establish a then-school-record single-game mark for total offense with 322 yards.
A pair of field goals erased the Boilers' lead and gave Notre Dame a 24-21 lead.
But in the end, Griese and the No. 6-ranked Boilermaker coaching staff outfoxed Ara Parseghian's squad. Griese had already connected eight times with splendid split end Bob Hadrick for 113 yards.
The Irish double-teamed Hadrick and Griese went another direction. He connected with junior flanker Jim Finley for 32 yards. Then he went twice on nearly identical pass patterns to sophomore sensation Jim Beirne, who had already caught two touchdown passes in the second quarter. He hit Beirne for 13- and 19-yard gains, putting the ball on the Irish 3. On the next play, All-American offensive lineman Karl Singer and fellow linemate Sal Ciampi opened a big hole for Gordon Teter to run into the end zone.
Teter led the Boilermaker ground attack with 90 yards on 23 carries and would never score a bigger touchdown in his distinguished collegiate career.
The Rationale Behind The Ranking
This game deserves its No. 9 ranking on one factor. It vaulted the Purdue football program to No. 1 in the coaches' poll (UPI). Purdue trailed Texas in the AP Poll. Ironically, a trip to Texas the following week and subsequent 14-14 tie at the hands of Coach Hayden Fry's Southern Methodist team made the Boilermakers stay at the top short-lived.
The victory over Notre Dame, which was in its most powerful period since the days of Coach Frank Leahy more than a decade earlier, is impressive. The Irish, and Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, finished No. 3 in the final 1964 polls and won the national title in 1966. The '65 team finished in the top 10 as well.
This victory also did much for Griese's All-American and Heisman Trophy push. The win over No. 5 Michigan the year before put Griese on the radar screen with the national audience, but this victory, and his incredible performance, did much to fully capture the nation's attention.
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