Countdown to Kickoff: No. 9 (Heartbreaks)
By Brandan Alford/Alan Karpick
Just nine Saturdays are left between now and the Sept. 1 season opener against Eastern Kentucky, and today we bring you our picks for the nine biggest heartbreaks in the last 20 years of Purdue football.
Heck, it is Friday. We hope you can relive this tough ones knowing the weekend is just around the bend. Here's our list.
No. 10: Indiana 24, Purdue 22, Nov. 23, 1991
At halftime of the 1991 Old Oaken Bucket game, it looked like Indiana was going to cruise to an easy win, as they held a 24-6 lead going into the break.
Purdue held an early 6-0 lead after Ernest Calloway's 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown. However, the Hoosiers would rattle off the game's next 24 points. In a game of runs, though, Purdue would go on one of their own, scoring 16 unanswered points to draw to within 24-22 with 2:54 remaining on an Eric Hunter touchdown pass.
In the waning moments, Hunter drove Purdue to the Hoosier 18-yard line with 24 seconds remaining, setting up the potential game-winning 35-yard field goal. Indiana head coach Bill Mallory called two timeouts to freeze Purdue kicker Joe O'Leary. As it turns out, the tactic worked and O'Leary pushed the kick wide, one of four missed field goals on the day. This one would have been higher on the list had Purdue not finished with a 4-7 record, because this was a crusher.
No. 9: Penn State 31, Purdue 25, Oct. 23, 1999
Despite outgaining No. 2-ranked Penn State, it was four Purdue turnovers that doomed the 16th ranked Boilermakers on this day.
Purdue was in the midst of its October from hell after losing at Michigan and Ohio State, but drilling No. 5 Michigan State the week before.
After trailing 28-14 in the third quarter, quarterback Drew Brees brought Purdue to within three with a pair of scoring drives that resulted in a Travis Dorsch field goal and a 4-yard touchdown catch by Randall Lane and a subsequent two-point conversion with Lane on the receiving end again. Penn State added a fourth-quarter field goal to stretch the lead to 31-25, but Purdue would have a chance in the closing minutes earn a second-consecutive upset of an elite team in Ross-Ade.
Purdue drove all the way to the Nittany Lion 12 yard line, but couldn't punch in the game-winning touchdown on its final four plays, and Penn State escaped with the win.
No. 8 Georgia 34, Purdue 27 (OT), Jan. 1, 2004
Midway through the first quarter of the 2004 Capital One Bowl, it looked like No. 11 Georgia was going to run away with an easy bowl victory as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 24-0 lead. But on this day, a win wouldn't come that easily.
Quarterback Kyle Orton, who was playing hurt after suffering a dislocated finger led the Purdue comeback, cutting the deficit 24-10 at halftime. Still, when Georgia added a field goal with 4:27 remaining to put the Bulldogs back up by 10 and appeared to again put the Boilers out of range. Orton hit receiver Anthony Chambers for a 3-yard TD with 1:34 remaining, but Purdue was unable to recover the onside kick. Amazingly, Georgia fumbled on second down giving Purdue new life. Ben Jones then was clutch connecting on a 44-yard field goal to tie the game with 49 seconds remaining to send it to overtime.
But this one makes our list because Georgia pulled the game out in overtime spoiling an unbelievable comeback.
No. 7: Penn State 22, Purdue 20, Sept, 30, 2000
If Purdue had not made the Rose Bowl in 2000, its loss to Penn State would have been a game that Boilermaker team would have regretted. Special teams miscues throughout the game cost Purdue a win, but in the end the Boilers still had chances to win.
Leading 13-6 in the third quarter, Purdue's punt unit had two kicks blocked, leading directly to 13 Penn State points. The Nittany Lions, on the back of those free points, led 22-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Drew Brees brought Purdue to within two points when he connected with Vinnie Sutherland for a 39-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Boilers had a chance to go ahead with 2:27 left in the game, but Travis Dorsch's 46-yard field goal attempt went wide left, and the comeback bid came up short.
As Purdue walked off the field, few would have guessed that a magical month was about to happen for the Boilermakers.
No. 6: Michigan 16, Purdue 14, Oct. 23, 2004
A week after the Wisconsin loss, Purdue was faced with another top-15 matchup in Ross-Ade stadium as Michigan came to West Lafayette.
After a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Purdue found itself trailing Michigan 10-7 from the middle of the second quarter into the latter portions of the third quarter. But a 63-yard scoring strike from Kyle Orton to Brandon Jones put the Boilers back on top 14-10.
A Garrett Rivas field goal with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter drew the Wolverines to within one and Rivas would add another late in the game with 2:45 remaining to put Michigan up for good at 16-14. The Boiler offense could not muster any late-game magic and lost its second of four straight close games in the middle of the 2004 season.
When one couples this with the loss to the Badgers, this earns a spot on our gut wrenching list.
No. 5: Georgia 34, #12 Purdue 27 (OT), Jan. 1, 2004
Midway through the first quarter of the 2004 Capital One Bowl, it looked like Georgia was going to run away with an easy New Year's Day bowl victory as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 24-0 lead. But on this day, a win wouldn't come that easily.
Despite numerous injuries including a dislocated finger, Orton led the Purdue comeback, drawing Purdue to within 24-10 at halftime. With the Boilers still trailing by two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter, Orton sparked the offense with his legs, adding his second rushing touchdown of the game with a two-yard score, cutting the lead to 24-17 with 9:11 to play.
Georgia would add a field goal with 4:27 remaining to put the Bulldogs back up by 10 and appeared to again put the Boilers out of range. However, with 1:34 remaining, Orton hit Anthony Chambers on a three-yard touchdown. Purdue was unable to recover the onside kick, but Georgia fumbled on second down giving Purdue new life. Ben Jones would connect on a 44-yard field goal to tie the game with 49 seconds remaining to send it to overtime.
In their overtime possession, the Bulldogs scored from one yard out on fourth down. Purdue, after having first-and-goal from the nine, was only able to muster one yard in its last four plays. The 24-point comeback fell short.
No. 4: Minnesota 42, #11 Purdue 35 (2OT), Sept. xx, 2005
After trailing 17-7 midway through the third quarter, Purdue mounted a second-half comeback, grabbing its first lead at 21-20 with 6:39 to play. A Dan Bick interception returned for a touchdown gave Purdue a 28-20 advantage with only 5:45 to play. However, the Golden Gophers responded, driving for a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:34 left.
After trading touchdowns in the first overtime period, Minnesota scored first in the second overtime on a 3-yard touchdown run by Gary Russell. The Boilers were stopped on fourth-and-two at the 17 yard line when Brandon Kirsch's pass to Charles Davis fell incomplete.
The defense struggled mightily in this one as the Golden Gophers totaled 527 yards of offense on the day, the second-most against a Tiller-coached Purdue team at the time. Lawrence Maroney had a career day for Minnesota as he racked up 217 yards on the ground. And after Bick's interception appeared to have sealed the win, the defense could not get the stop it needed to finish off the win.
Purdue was 2-0 entering the game and ranked No. 11 in the country. However, this loss sent the Boilers into a tailspin, as it was the start to a six-game losing streak that would leave them out of the bowl picture for the first time in the Joe Tiller era.
No. 3: Iowa 31, Purdue 28, Oct. 5, 2002
For much of this 2002 matchup between the Hawkeyes and Boilers, it was a matter of self-inflicted wounds by Purdue that seemingly handed Iowa a conference win. Leading 14-3 in the second quarter, Purdue lined up for a 22-yard field goal that would have sent the Boilers to the locker room with a two touchdown lead. But Iowa blocked the kick and Antwan Allen returned it 85 yards for the Hawkeyes to draw within 14-10.
Special teams miscues would again be the theme in the third quarter as Brent Slaton's put was blocked and recovered by Iowa in the end zone, giving the Hawkeyes a 17-14 lead. With 2:37 left in the third quarter, Iowa extended its lead when Dallas Clark had a 95-yard touchdown reception on third down that put Iowa up 24-14.
With starting quarterback Kyle Orton injured, freshman Brandon Kirsch entered for Purdue, and provided an offensive spark. Kirsch had a 16-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 24-21 with 10:23 to play before leading another touchdown drive with 5:45 to play that was capped off by Jon Goldsberry's 2-yard run, giving Purdue a 28-24 lead.
The lead was be short-lived, however, as Iowa quarterback Brad Banks drove the Hawkeyes 87 yards for the game-winning drive, culminating in Banks' 7-yard touchdown pass to Clark that put Iowa up 31-28.
Kirsch had one last chance to lead the Boilers down the field, but his pass from the Iowa 25 yard line was deflected and intercepted, sealing the win for Iowa and shutting the book on Kirsch's potential storybook ending.
No. 2: Ohio State 16, #11 Purdue 13 (OT)
If you asked Joe Tiller today what was his most difficult loss at Purdue, he would likely say this one. With a Big Ten title opportunity on the line in on of the nation's most hostile environments, the Boilermakers went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes coming up just short.
Trailing 13-6 late in the fourth quarter, Purdue drove 92 yards to tie the game with 4:36 left on Jerod Void's 11-yard touchdown run. Ohio State had a chance to win it in regulation, but the 41-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Bobby Iwuchukwu.
In the overtime period, Purdue forced Ohio State to settle for a 36-yard field goal that put the Buckeyes up just three. After driving to the 11-yard line in its overtime possession, Purdue had to settle for a field goal attempt of its own. But the 37-yard attempt was missed wide left. The loss knocked Purdue from the Big Ten title-chase and was a gut-wrenching defeat in front of the then-second-largest crowd ever at Ohio Stadium.
No. 1: Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17, Oct. 16, 2004
This is hard for any fan of the gold and black to stomach � nearly eight years later.
On a cold late afternoon when it appeared Purdue would cement itself as the Big Ten's best team and a potential national title game darkhorse, the Boilers had one of the worst eight-minute stretches in recent memory.
With eight minutes to go, Kyle Orton scampered six yards for a touchdown that gave Purdue a 17-7 lead and appeared to clinch a huge win in front 65,196 fans at Ross-Ade Stadium and a national television audience. But Wisconsin wasn't ready to concede, as they drove down for a touchdown on their next possession in under three minutes, drawing to within 17-14 with 5:29 remaining. However, that score would have never happened if not for a dropped interception by Purdue safety Kyle Smith.
The Boilers still had a chance to ice the game, though. On third-and-three, Orton, who at that point in the season was a Heisman frontrunner, scrambled out of the pocket for what would have been a first down. However, unsure of whether he had reached first-down yardage, Orton dove headfirst. Badger cornerback Scott Starks hit Orton in the air, jarring the ball loose. Starks picked up the fumble and ran 40-yards untouched for the go-ahead touchdown.
With a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime with 24 seconds remaining, Purdue kicker Ben Jones missed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right. It was the first miss of Jones' career on field goals between 40 and 49 yards.
This loss was the first of four straight losses by a combined ten points, and took the Boilers out of the Rose Bowl picture, and in a larger sense, sent both the Wisconsin and Purdue programs in opposite directions over the next eight years.
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