football Edit

With Ohio State looming, Brohm not focused on No. 19 CFP poll ranking

Purdue made history this week with its first appearance ever in the College Football Playoff poll.

"I wasn't expecting it," said Jeff Brohm. "So, it was great. I know it made a lot of guys on our team feel good that maybe we can accomplish some things if we put our mind to it. But there's a lot of season left and we've got to finish and we've got some good opponents coming up."

The Boilermaker coach couldn't recall exactly what he was doing at the time of the announcement on Tuesday, when the second iteration of the CFP poll came out with Purdue ranked No. 19.

The ranking validates what Brohm's Boilermakers have accomplished thus far in 2021, which is quite a lot. Purdue (6-3 overall; 4-2 Big Ten) already has earned bowl eligibility with three games to go. And the program has grabbed national attention along the way, knocking off No. 2 Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State.

The Boilermakers get another chance to topple a highly-ranked team on Saturday, when they play at No. 6 Ohio State (8-1, 6-0), which is No. 4 in the CFP poll. Purdue is a 21-point underdog as it heads to Ohio State, where it has lost nine in a row and hasn't won since 1988. This will be Purdue's first trip to Columbus since 2012, when it lost in OT. But know this: The Boilermakers are 4-5 in their last nine games vs. Buckeyes.

"Well, being the underdog does take a little pressure off of your guys because we can go out there and play aggressive and play loose," said Brohm. "It's definitely a really, really good football team that we're gonna have to take some chances and get some breaks, win the turnover battle, stay as close as we can for a while. These guys, if you make mistakes early, they can blow you off the field."

The last time the schools met, Purdue pulled a stunner, beating the No. 2 Buckeyes, 49-20, in Ross-Ade Stadium. A win Saturday by the Boilermakers would mark the first time in school history they have beaten three top-10 teams in the same season.

"We've got to make sure that we hang in there and play 'em tough and get them in the fourth quarter and see if we can gain some confidence and maybe if it's close, maybe they lose some confidence," said Brohm. "But those are big ifs. But we're gonna try hard and give our best shot."

Purdue will look to keep riding the hot arm of quarterback Aidan O'Connell, who hit 40-of-54 passes for 536 yards and three touchdowns vs. Michigan State last week. In the last two games, the fifth-year senior has completed 74-of-99 passes (75 percent) for 769 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

But the Boilermakers are dealing with some banged up players, too.

"I think our guys are progressing," said Brohm. "(Defensive tackle) Lawrence Johnson, (defensive end) Kydran Jenkins, those are guys that haven't been able to practice much this week. So, we'll see how they turn out on Saturday. (Receiver) Broc Thompson's another one, as well.

"So, some things have popped up just like they always do throughout the course of the year. We'll continue to get 'em as healthy as we can. And if not, the next guy has to be ready."

What about tight end Payne Durham, who played just two snaps last week due to injury?

"I think Payne should be able to play," said Brohm. "We had him dressed the last game just in case, on-side (kick) situation or something on the goal line where maybe he could just suck it up because he is tough. But he definitely is not 100 percent. So, this week was trying to get him closer to that."

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