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December 27, 2011
The story for much of the game was Purdue's defense. The Wildcats entered the contest leading the nation in scoring averaging 48 points per game and ninth nationally in total offense averaging 478.5 yards an outing. It managed just 308 yards against Purdue and 88 came on one pass play.
Had it not been for two bad snaps on punts that resulted in Kansas State touchdowns, the game would have not been close. Though the scoreboard would indicate otherwise with 34 points on the board, the Purdue defense dominated KSU.
The Wildcats, who had just 19 turnovers during the regular season, gave up seven against Purdue. It managed just one sustained scoring drive in the game. Kansas State's first two scores came on a one-yard drive and a fumble recovery in the end zone as a result of those goofs.
The seniors on the Boilermaker defense stepped up big. Defensive ends Rosevelt Colvin and Chike Okeafor, playing in their final college game, were constantly tormenting All-American quarterback Michael Bishop. The duo combined for 14 tackles, five sacks and six tackles for loss. Safety Billy Gustin had two interceptions including a lengthy return that set up a Purdue field goal just before the end of the third quarter.
Just prior to Gustin's heist, the Purdue defense lit up the scoreboard when defensive tackle David Nugent recovered K-State's Brian Goolsby's fumble in the end zone in the final minute of the third quarter, pushing Purdue's lead to 24-13.
Things still looked good for the Boilermakers after freshman kicker Travis Dorsch nailed his second field goal of the day with 6:44 left in the game giving Purdue a 30-20 lead. Bishop, who had a 46-3 record as a collegiate quarterback, quickly answered as he unleashed an 88-yard scoring pass to Darnell McDonald to cut the lead to 30-27 just 21 seconds later. With the momentum shifting, Purdue went three-and-out on the next series and than All-American punt returner David Allen took a short punt and returned it 32 yards to the Purdue 27. Seven plays later, and with just 1:30 left, KSU had its first and only lead at 34-30 following a two-yard scoring pass from Bishop to tight end Justin Swift.
The stage was set for Brees' heroics. The game-winning drive did not start well, however, as his first two passes fell incomplete. Brees then found junior receiver Chris Daniels, who barely stretched for a first down at the Purdue 31. On the next play, Brees' pass was high to Randall Lane, but the junior made a great catch for a 19-yard pickup at midfield. Then K-State was penalized 15 yards for pass interference, putting the ball at the KSU 35. Following the penalty, Brees scrambled up the middle and cut right before being knocked out-of-bounds after gaining 11-yards. That set up Brees' 24-yard scoring strike on the next play to Isaac Jones on a fade route in the corner of the end zone. Jones just outran the Wildcats' defenders and Brees threw a perfect pass.
With 30 seconds left on the clock and Purdue up three, Bishop threw a desperation pass that was picked off by senior linebacker John Reeves and the celebration was on!
The rationale behind the ranking
The game ended well after midnight on the East Coast, but for those who stayed up, they were treated to a classic. The Boilermakers were a two-touchdown underdog to the No. 4 Wildcats. But had they avoided special teams mistakes and inopportune turnovers, Purdue might have won this one going away. A Boilermaker offense that had been limited to just 150 yards through three quarters managed to drive the length of the field, culminated by a 24-yard pass from Brees to Isaac Jones for the game-winner with 30 seconds left. It may seem coun- ter-intuitive considering the final score, but the real story was the Boilermaker defense, especially the play of the defensive ends Okeafor and Colvin. The duo combined for five sacks, giving l Bishop nightmares he might still have to this day.
Here is the rest of the list:
No. 8: 2007 Motor City Bowl
No. 7: 1978 Peach Bowl
No. 6: 1980 Liberty Bowl
No: 5: 2002 Sun Bowl
No. 4: 1997 Alamo Bowl
No. 3: 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl
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