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October 6, 2012
Ricardo Allen was ready to forget.
He escaped a somber Purdue locker room quickly, without showering, eye black smudged across his cheeks.
He waited to talk to reporters but was hoping for another fast exodus, away from Ross-Ade Stadium and a surprising 44-13 loss to Michigan on Saturday.
The confidence that the Boilermakers built from a 3-1 start, its best since 2007, took a hit.
And now, with a critical Leaders Division game looming against Wisconsin next week, Purdue must respond quickly.
Actually, this lopsided loss could help with that, Allen said.
"We have to level out and start believing in ourselves and don't let the hype from the outside to get in. Because once you start believing in the wrong hype, you think you're better than what you really are," he said. "I think we're a really good team, but we just thought we were a little too good this week.
"We got a little (big)-headed and we thought it was going to be easy going into Big Ten. I don't think we played to our highest potential."
That would seem clear.
A defense that looked solid in non-conference play, especially with its sometimes dominating front, got shredded by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson had managed only 131 yards rushing in two previous games against Purdue: He ripped off 235 yards Saturday.
An offense that showed some explosiveness in the first four games was largely ineffective, managing only 213 yards and giving the ball away three times.
"I think it was consistent throughout the course of the game that they played better and executed better than we did and as a result, we lost," Coach Danny Hope said.
"We should have and could have played a lot better. We're a better football team than what we demonstrated (Saturday)."
It didn't take long to see Purdue was in trouble on Saturday.
The offense went three-and-out on its first possession, capped by not being able to convert on a third-and-one, and then the Wolverines seized control.
Michigan used a 17-play, 78-yard drive that wiped out nearly nine minutes of the clock and finished the drive with a touchdown run to go up 7-0.
Purdue's offense couldn't respond, failing to get a first down on its next drive.
The Wolverines took advantage, moving 63 yards in eight plays capped by Fitzgerald Toussaint's second 1-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
Purdue managed a first down on its next drive - but only one. On fourth-and-two from the 44-yard line, Caleb TerBush lined up in shotgun and tried to zip a pass to O.J. Ross on the perimeter. TerBush had to adjust his throw with a defender in the way and sailed the pass high. Ross jumped to try to snag the ball, but it bounced off his hands in the arms of Raymon Taylor.
Taylor raced down the right sideline for a 63-yard touchdown, pushing the lead out of reach fast.
"It was a huge swing in their favor," said TerBush, who completed 16-of-25 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. "It's never fun throwing a pick-six because you know the momentum it gives the other team. It gives them seven points, and it's seven points we didn't get. So that puts us in an even bigger deficit, and it was tough to come back from."
It didn't help that Purdue's defense was struggling to contain Robinson.
Kawann Short talked leading into the game that Robinson couldn't be the Boilermakers only concern - evidenced by Toussaint's 170-yard performance last season in a rout.
But Robinson, coming off what he'd called the most disappointing performance of his career against Notre Dame, was all the Wolverines needed.
He accounted for 340 of Michigan's 409 yards, and all of Michigan's five plays of 20 yards or more.
"We knew we were a better defense than that," Short said. "It's a really good team, a nice quarterback they have (but) we were kind of shocked as a defense knowing they made a lot of plays like that."
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