November 1, 2013
A look back: Big home 'Dogs
If our research is correct and the line holds at 31, Purdue has never been as big a underdog for a game played in Ross-Ade Stadium as it will be tomorrow. Here's our look at the games with big lines and how the Boilermakers have fared over the years:
There have been two games where the Boilermakers have been 31 point home 'Dogs. The first time it happened was Nov. 8, 1986 when No. 3 Michigan came to town. Coach Leon Burtnett announced his resignation earlier in the week which caused a stir among the Boilermaker team and its two name players freshman Jeff George and senior All-American Rod Woodson. Burtnett didn't want to resign, but declining attendance and four losing seasons in five years at the helm didn't help. The Boilermakers hung in there early, but finally lost 31-7. Purdue saved its best game for the lost contest of the year and sent Burtnett out on a high-note with a dramatic 17-15 win over Indiana.
The second game where the Boilermakers found themselves a 31-point home dog was three years later against defending national champion and top-ranked Notre Dame. This game, played on Sept. 30, 1989, wasn't close as the Irish rolled to a 34-0 lead and coasted to a 40-7 win under Coach Lou Holtz. Fred Akers' boys did manage a touchdown in the last minute of the game when run-and-shoot quarterback Steve Letnich had a 3-yard underhanded scoring pass to Rodney Dennis to avert the shutout. I have never seen a pass like it before or since.
On Halloween, 1992, the Boilermakers were not expected to be competitive against No. 3-ranked Michigan. But on this day, the Boilermakers had a legitimate chance to pull the upset. Quarterback Eric Hunter and the Purdue offense were clicking in the first half as Purdue built a 10-0 first quarter lead and led 17-7 at intermission. But Coach Gary Moeller's Wolverines woke up in the third quarter with 17 unanswered points en route to a 24-17 win.
If Purdue fans want evidence that a huge upset can happen in Ross-Ade, here's your proof. On Nov. 6, 1976, the Boilermakers were not expected to be competitive against Coach Bo Schembechler's No. 1-ranked team. After all, Purdue was banged up and had just been humiliated the week before in a 45-13 loss at Michigan State.
And this one looked early like it would be Wolverine walk in the park as the visitors marched right down the field in the game's first six minutes and scored. But from that point forward, the Purdue defense stiffened, and gimped up All-Big Ten back Scott Dierking took over. Battling a bad ankle, Dierking not only set the Purdue record (since tied by Montrell Lowe against IU in 2000) with 38 carries, but he gained 162 yards on the ground against the nation's best run defense. In the end, reserved kicker Rock Supan kicked the game-winning field goal and Michigan missed a chance to win with a game-winning three pointer at the buzzer.
Purdue +27, Purdue +25
Ohio State was a 27-point favorite in the '75 game and despite Purdue jumping to an early lead, won easily 35-6. That game was best know as the date that Archie Griffin became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher.
Michigan was also a 27-point favorite in 1990, and won easily. 38-13 in Coach Fred Akers' last season.
In 1996, No. 2-ranked OSU was a 25-point favorite and ended up covering the spread with a 42-14 win over its former offensive coordinator Jim Colletto. It wasn't as easy as it looks, however, as the Boilermakers raced to a 14-0 lead in the game's first six minutes and kept it interesting for the first half.
Add all of this up and what do you get? Of the seven times Purdue has been +25 (or more) at home, it has won once, but has been competitive (depending on your definition of competitive of course) in most of the games.
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