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January 1, 2013
DALLAS - Nearly all of them ran.
Robert Marve was near the head of the Purdue pack, racing off the field at Cotton Bowl Stadium into the locker room with the bulk of his teammates following up the inclined South tunnel.
They likely won't be able to escape what transpired any time soon.
Purdue may have valiantly fought to win its final three regular-season games to reach bowl eligibility, but it was overmatched from the start in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday.
Oklahoma State's high-powered offense proved to be just that, racking up 524 yards and a stadium record for points in a bowl game, and its defense forced five turnovers in a 58-14 drubbing.
"It kills," cornerback Ricardo Allen said. "We worked so hard for this game. It's been a month, close to a month, of practicing and you come out and do an embarrassing thing like this. We embarrassed Purdue. We embarrassed our community."
The Cowboys (8-5) scored the game's first 45 points through the third quarter. They took advantage of great field position - for the game, they started on the 40 on average - and turnovers.
The Boilermakers and quarterback Robert Marve were able to make a late-season charge because of their ability to maintain possession. But they had no such luck against Oklahoma State.
Marve threw two interceptions, both tipped or deflected before going into the arms of Oklahoma State players, and Gabe Holmes appeared to be down before fumbling after a catch but the ball was given to the Cowboys. O.J. Ross was stripped after a reception, too, and that ball popped into the air right to Daytawion Lowe, who ran it back 37 yards for a touchdown.
"We didn't play well to start the game, but the ball didn't bounce, if it was a bad throw or a dropped ball or a lack of communication," said Marve, who took all of the team's snaps at quarterback and finished 21-of-34 for 212 yards and two touchdowns in his final game.
"I don't know if it was the month off or what it was, but we didn't start clicking until very, very late in the game."
Purdue tried to stay with its running game, and that looked good when Akeem Shavers (14 carries, 93 yards) had the ball. But, ultimately, the Boilermakers needed to make plays in the air and score points.
The turnovers kept it from doing that, and then the offense was forced to watch Oklahoma State keep piling on.
The Cowboys scored three touchdowns and a field goal off Purdue turnovers.
"It happened real fast," Marve said. "When they keep putting points on like that, it makes their defense, they can call many different things and guess and jump. Without the craziness if you burn them, you're still up 14, 21 points. The game changes when you get to that level, and we didn't do a good job responding to that.
"We obviously didn't show up (Tuesday) and play the way we thought we were going to play."
But it wasn't just on the offense to respond.
The defense didn't get what it needed either.
Though the line was as healthy as it has been since early in the season, it didn't generate much pressure against an Oklahoma State offense that consistently changed tempo. The Boilermakers often looked confused and flustered, trying to get the right personnel on the field. Once they did have the players in the game, defensive end Ryan Russell said it was a challenge for some players to realize what their responsibilities were.
And Clint Chelf took advantage.
Chelf was masterful, completing all but five of his 22 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns and often finding single-coverage situations. Purdue's defensive backs simply struggled to defend Oklahoma State's receivers.
"They like to throw the ball a lot, and sometimes we weren't getting enough pressure and he had a lot of time to pick apart the zone defense," said senior Josh Johnson, who didn't have a pass breakup and fell shy of the school's all-time record. "We'd be in position and just didn't make the play. We'd be in position and just didn't turn back and look for the ball. We'd get a (pass interference call) or they ended up getting a big play off it."
Frankie Williams, who ultimately left the game with a head injury, seemed the most frequent victim, but Allen allowed a touchdown catch, too, despite being draped on a receiver.
It wasn't a great way to finish the season for a proud secondary, which came into the game thinking it'd be able to slow the passing game.
"The stuff that happened, we didn't think would happen," Allen said. "He had the time - he was able to do two and three reads. He made good plays and the wide receivers did, too."
Not that any Purdue player was satisfied with the result.
A season that started with such promise ended with a resounding defeat with key eyes watching, including those of new head coach Darrell Hazell.
"At the end of the season, you hope that the bowl game defines everything you've been through and that you prevail and come out on top," end Ryan Russell said. "It didn't work out that way for us, so everybody is disappointed."
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