I have only been to one bowl game in my life, the prestigious 2007 Motor City Bowl between Purdue and Central Michigan. It was one of the most memorable football game experiences of my life. Since Purdue is going back to Detroit this year to face a directional Michigan school (this time it's Western), I figured it would be a good time to reminisce.
This may be long, but it is hard to describe everything that happened that day without going into detail. To sum it up, the following things were involved: Xbox, food vouchers, sickness, a homemade sign, offense, the longest third quarter of football that I have ever witnessed and lots of yelling. I'll put the rest of this story after the jump, so it won't take up too much precious front page space.
My brother had recently moved back to the Midwest after living in Texas for a few years. He was currently staying at his in-law's house near Fort Wayne while he and his wife looked for a house. Since he was so close to Detroit, we decided to go the game. I found a $25 dollar ticket deal that included a $10 food voucher, which is a lot cheaper than going to a regular season Purdue game. I drove up to his in-laws and spent the night at that house on the eve of the big game. I slept in the same bed that my brother's wife had slept in the night before. She was now sick with the flu, but I didn't think it would matter. The sheets had been cleaned and I don't get sick very often anyway.
The morning of the game, my friend Matt came over and we played an old version of NCAA Football for Xbox. I was CMU and he was Purdue. Both offenses did well (particularly in the running game) and it looked like the team with the ball last would end up winning. My Chippewas scored a TD and a two-point conversion to take a one-point lead with a couple of minutes left. Matt drove the Boilers down the field and kicked a field goal to win it as time expired.
A little while after that, we headed up to Detroit. My brother whipped up a great "Chippe-what?" sign to stick it to all of the Central Michigan fans right before we left. We got there a few hours before the game, thinking that there would be something to do around the stadium. There was not, unless you count walking around the baseball stadium trying not to freeze to death. There was a bar near Ford Field, but it was jam packed.
After wandering around for a couple of hours they opened the doors. I used my food voucher on an Italian sausage, which was fine, but not great. Ford Field was pretty nice, and it was nice to be indoors. The fan split was maybe 60-40 in Central Michigan's favor.
Finally the game started, and what a game it was. This was a rare bowl rematch; the Boilermakers beat the Chippewas 45-22 earlier in the season at Ross-Ade. They also played in September of 2008, which made it three games within thirteen months.
The first half was great for Purdue. Curtis Painter (yes, that Curtis Painter), did what he did so well at Purdue. He torched a MAC team. Painter generally didn't step up against the good defenses of the Big Ten during his career, but he sure could throw up some stats against the MAC. At the end of the first half, Purdue had a 21 point lead and it seemed to me like it should have been more. Dorien Bryant, who did make some great plays, tipped a pass up that was intercepted. The Boilers also had to settle for field goals after getting to the CMU 3-yard line on two possessions.
The second half is when things started to go bad. The third quarter seemed to last forever. Both teams were passing the ball a lot, so the clock would stop after all of the incompletions. The Boilers and Chips traded touchdowns to start the quarter (which took a little over two minutes), but then it started going bad. CMU scored again to cut the lead to 14. A couple of stops followed and Purdue ended up with great field position after a lackluster punt.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Dorien Bryant tipped it up to a Chip defender again. They scored a couple of more times before the end of the quarter to tie the game at 41. In one quarter of play, the Boilers managed to give up a 21 point lead. I was VERY frustrated. I was also feeling a little bit weird.
When Central Michigan started coming back, I wasn't really that surprised. I was just mad. I am normally a pretty quiet fan; sometimes I yell stuff, but it is usually in good humor. For instance during the Illinois game this year, Ron Zook was punting on something like 4th and 1 from the Purdue 35. I yelled "You're coach is even stupider than ours!" to some Illini fans. Sometimes I yell, "Stop cheating!" at opposing teams after they are penalized. It's pretty dumb, but at least it's harmless and good-natured.
At one point in the fourth quarter of the bowl game, Purdue was backed up near their own goal line. Painter completed a pass for a first down to Dustin Keller. Then the ref came in after the play and said that CMU had called a timeout before the play. We had end zone seats, and this all happened right in front of us. Absolutely none of the players knew there was a timeout called. No one saw a ref running in and blowing his whistle to stop the play. As I was getting madder and starting to feel a little warmer and just a bit weird, I started yelling. "None of the players knew there was a timeout! This is pathetic! We always get cheated at the end of games!" They replayed the down and we managed to get a first down again. I started yelling even more, "DOES IS COUNT THIS TIME? ARE YOU SURE THERE WASN'T A TIMEOUT?" Some people started looking at me, but I didn't care. I was extremely emotionally invested in the outcome of this game at this point. I gave what could have been the hardest high-five I have ever given in my life after this play.
The rest of the fourth quarter was somewhat of a blur. There was only a couple of minutes left and it looked like we were going to be able to stop the Chips and win the game. Then Dan LeFevour ran some stupid plays and the very tired Purdue defense left them drive down the field and score. There was still about a minute left, though.
Then Curtis Painter carved up the Central Michigan defense and drove the Boilers into field goal range. Chris Summers made it (just like in the Xbox game!), and we went nuts in the stands. I was starting to feel pretty weird at this point, but the euphoria from the win sort of cancelled it out into a weird sort of high. It was pretty great.
On the drive home, the weird sort of high feeling turned into a very sick feeling. We stopped at a gas station and got a plastic bag, which I threw up into about six or seven times before we got back. Then I spent the rest of the night using the toilet like I had used that plastic bag.
Overall it was one of the best nights of my life as a football fan, and one of the worst in terms of feeling awful. I would do it again in a heartbeat.