B1G 2011 // Keeping the Enemy Closer - Old Oaken Bucket Hate, From a Hoosier.

0-7...Indiana was lame-ducking its way through a winless 2010 Big Ten Conference season when an emotional victory over your Purdue Boilermakers came as a pleasant surprise to the Bloomington faithful...John M from Crimson Quarry gives us a blow-by-blow of how this win felt and the background of the IU-PU rivalry...his closing line is especially genius...my thanks to John for the excellent piece piece...

Thanks to the OTE for letting me take this space for the day to discuss the Indiana-Purdue rivalry.  IU-Purdue is one of the longest-lived rivalries in college football, and unfortunately, one of the least consequential on the conference and national stage.  Each school has won only one outright Big Ten championship (Purdue in 1929, IU in 1945).   Since IU and Purdue, along with Minnesota, shared the Big Ten title in 1967, IU hasn't won even a share of the Big Ten title, while Purdue won a share and went to the Rose Bowl in 2000 (Purdue won a share of the title 5 other times between 1918 and 1952).

That's a long-winded way of saying that for most of the history of the IU-Purdue rivalry, the season-ending game between the Hoosiers and Boilermakers has been the only thing either team had to play for.  Before the 1978 season, each team had only one bowl appearance in its history.  That began to change in the late 1970s, and since then, one or both teams has been bowl bound in 19 of 33 seasons.  Unfortunately, the "Bucket or bust" era seems to be back.  In four of the last six seasons, both IU and Purdue have been mathematically eliminated from postseason play by the time the season-ending game rolled around.   

Tradition dictates that when IU wins, an "I" is attached to the Bucket, and when Purdue wins, a "P" is attached.  Unfortunately, in the minds of Purdue fans, when they win, a "P" is attached, but when IU wins, an asterisk is attached.  Just ask any Purdue fan.  Since Joe Tiller became coach, Purdue has won 11 of the 14 matchups.  One might think that this healthy advantage would lead to a graciousness from Purdue fans, a willingness to concede the IU actually deserved to win on the rare occasions that it has happened.  Nope.  The opposite.  For instance, if you ask any Purdue fan about the 2001 game, you will hear the word "MONSOON!"  The theory is that the heavy rain on that day slowed down Purdue's vaunted offense and resulted in the grind-it-out 13-7 IU win.  Of course, Purdue's vaunted 2001 offense exists only as a figment of Boilermaker imaginations.  In 2001, the Antwaan Randle-El led Hoosier offense, the offense that hung 63 points on Wisconsin in Madison, was #19 in the nation, while Purdue, which replaced Drew Brees with Brandon Hance and a young Kyle Orton, had one of the nation's worst offenses, ranking #105 in Division I-A.  IU was favored, and won despite posting its lowest point total of the season, but we are to believe that it was Purdue that was most affected by the rain (which fell on both sides of the field, if I recall correctly).  The Boilers got their revenge, and IU did not win the Bucket again until 2007.  The 2007 season, of course, is when IU found its way to 7 wins despite the death of Terry Hoeppner.  In the reality that I occupy, the illness and death of a charismatic, beloved, all-around good coach, and replacing him with, well, Bill Lynch, would be considered a disadvantage.  But in Boiler fantasyland, IU won because of "the Hep factor."  No word on why Terry's ghost didn't allow IU to hold its 14-3 lead at Northwestern, or why he allowed Purdue to storm back from a 24-3 deficit in that Bucket game, or why he didn't stop Kellen Lewis from fumbling against Penn State.  It's not my mythology.  I don't doubt that IU used Hoeppner's death as a motivator, but I would rather have had Hep than the "Hep factor." 


The bottom line is that IU fans were desperate for a Bucket win in good weather, and without the unfair advantage of our coach dying.  And in Purdue's stadium, even.  We dreamed of an asterisk-free Bucket.  The game itself presented strange emotions.  Both teams were out of the running for postseason play.  There was significant doubt about Bill Lynch's future, and for those of us who believed IU would be better off with a new coach, that always creates a rooting conundrum.  But not really.  Seeing that drum, the obnoxious train whistle, the train, the whole obnoxious three-ring-circus-on-acid atmosphere that is Ross Ade Stadium removed any concerns about the coaching situation.  The chance to win at Purdue for the first time since 1996 became the only concern.  It wasn't, at least in my mind, all that long ago that IU had more than held its own at Ross-Ade.  Although IU had lost six in a row before 2010, from 1988-1996 IU won 4 of 5 in West Lafayette.  Still, during the six game losing streak, only one game had been remotely competitive, so it was easy to be pessimistic.  Purdue scored easily on a short pass that turned into a 55 yard touchdown pass, and after IU tied the game at 7-7, the Boilermakers pulled ahead 14-7.  When senior Terrance Turner fumbled a punt return and Purdue used the short field to pull ahead 21-7, I was certain that another Ross-Ade blowout was underway.  Mental toughness never was a hallmark of Bill Lynch's teams, but the Hoosiers had it on that day.  IU pulled to within 7 before halftime, tied the game on the first drive after halftime, and the teams traded scores for the rest of regulation, culminating in Mitch Ewald's field goal to send the game to overtime.  It was a roller coaster of a game.  Despite two key fumbles by Terrance Turner and a boneheaded ejection drawn by Terrence Thomas for taking a swing at a Purdue player, IU somehow held on.  When overtime began, Purdue quarterback Rob Henry, who had an excellent day...perhaps had too good a day.  After a 19 yard completion on the first play from scrimmage, Henry apparently forgot that he was a run first quarterback.  With Purdue within striking distance of the end zone, Henry threw an interception to IU's Jeff Thomas, which allowed IU to set up for the game winning field goal.

I love home games, of course, but if there is a better feeling in college football than winning on road, I don't know it.  Sadly, since Bill Mallory was fired, IU has won only six Big Ten road game.  Seeing one's favorite team celebrate with the hardy contingent of visiting fans while the home crowd slinks out silently (or, in the case of Purdue fans, sticks around to hurl profanities and obscene gestures at the IU players) is one of the greatest sights in athletics.  And, of course, in a rivalry game, it means that the trophy will be defended at home next season. 

The inevitable asterisk, of course, was that Purdue had injury problems.  If I put an asterisk on every game in which IU had injury problems, then it turns out we actually would be a perennial power.  I certainly can't dispute that Purdue's injury problems were worse than usual, but IU played the game without its best running back, Darius Willis, and many of IU's teams have been riddled with injuries by the time the Bucket game rolled around.  Ultimately, seeking even the grudging respect of Purdue fans is a waste of time.  Many Purdue fans that I know won't even acknowledge that IU had better teams than Purdue when Bill Mallory was the coach.  All IU can do is try to start its first Bucket game winning streak since the mid 1990s, sit back, and find out why it doesn't really count.


This week...

MONDAY | Purdue Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Point/Counterpoint

WEDNESDAY | 4th and 3


FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close - Rival Blogger Interview

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