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Big Ten Football 2023: Ross-Ade Turns 100 and Purdue Week Mailbag

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 19 Northwestern at Purdue
I might just be in the background of this picture trying to stay warm
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ross-Ade Stadium is preparing to celebrate its 100th football season this year with a new facelift. With the south end zone stands finally being rebuilt (and connected to the rest of the stadium), Ross-Ade will be now be a bowl shape once again capable of hosting around 65,000 fans. The new Tiller Tunnel and a prominent spot for the Boilermaker Special have also been incorporated into the new upgrades. Crews are working 24/7 to get the stadium ready for Week 1.

In the past 99 seasons, Ross-Ade has hosted many memorable games. Here are a few notable ones from each decade of Ross-Ade’s existence:

November 22, 1924 Purdue Boilermakers 26, Indiana Hoosiers 7

The game that started it all. Up until the 1924 rivalry game with the Hoosiers (it would not become the Old Oaken Bucket game until the following year), Purdue football had played at Stuart Field (Elliott Hall now stands at this location). Having defeated Wabash, Rose-Hulman, and Depauw in their home games at Stuart Field that season, the Boilermakers would open Ross-Ade Stadium in the 1924 season finale against the Hoosiers and defeat them in the last pre-trophy series game. Yes, Purdue beating Indiana has always been a foundational part of Ross-Ade history.

Believe it or not, but I don’t have photos of that 1924 game. So here’s a tweet with a photo of Ross-Ade in the early years from 1928.

November 19, 1932 Purdue Boilermakers 25, Indiana Hoosiers 7

Vince Lombardi - Fordham University- File Photos
No Ross-Ade photos from the 30s. Instead Purdue football at the Polo Grounds against Fordham and Vince Lombardi sometime in the 1930s. Purdue travelled to New York 5 years in a row.
Photo by Fordham University/Getty Images

The 1930s were not a big decade for America or Purdue football. The decade was rather depressing if I do say so myself. The back half of the decade saw the Boilermakers routinely playing just 2-3 home games a season. There were no victories over ranked teams at home this decade. So instead I have decided to choose an easy victory over the Hoosiers in 1932 as the game of the decade. The 18 point victory finished off a 7-0-1 season (the tie coming against Northwestern) to help Purdue finish undefeated, grab a share of the Big Ten title, and finish the season ranked #4. Ignore the fact that Purdue avoided #1 Michigan, #11 wisconsin, and #6 Ohio State and focus on the fact that 1932 was a really great year for Purdue athletics.

October 25, 1947 Purdue Boilermakers 14, #5 Illinois Fighting Illini 7

Syndication: Journal-Courier
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Purdue cannon became a trophy game in 1943 following an 11 year lapse in the series between the two programs. Purdue had won the trophy in 1943 and 1944 before losing it to the clutches of the Illini in 1946. Determined to win their cannon back against the 3-0-1 Illini (the tie coming against a still talented postwar Army squad), the 2-2 Boilermakers were ready to play in front of a homecoming crowd of 42,000. Quarterback Bob DeMoss led the offense to upset the Illini and snap the 10 game undefeated streak of the defending Rose Bowl champions.

October 24, 1953 Purdue Boilermakers 6, #2 Michigan State Spartans 0

Purdue University vs University of Wisconsin
Photo from the 1959 Purdue-Wisconsin game
Set Number: X6246

Coming off a national championship the previous year and carrying a 28 game winning streak, Sparty travelled to West Lafayette to face an 0-4 Purdue team. The only points of the game were scored by none other than fullback Dan Pobojewski who had transferred from Michigan State after failing to make their football team. Purdue would finish the season at 2-7 with their only other win being a 30 point walloping of instate rival Indiana.

September 25, 1965 #6 Purdue Boilermakers 25, #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21

NCAA - Purdue vs Notre Dame - October 2, 2004
I’m all out of 1960s photos so how about this one not taken in Ross-Ade
Photo by Sandra Dukes/Getty Images

I’m not entirely sure this game was actually a true upset as the Boilers were awful good in the late 60s, but it marked the first upset of a #1 ranked team at Ross-Ade by the Boilermakers. Bob Griese threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns - and punted three times! - to help lead Purdue to victory over the irate leprechauns.

November 6, 1976 Purdue Boilermakers 16, #1 Michigan Wolverines 14

Fans At Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vs Purdue Boilermakers Game
From the 1973 Purdue-ND game
Photo by Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

The undefeated Michigan Wolverines travelled to face a 3-5 Purdue team. After Purdue took a late 2 point lead on a field goal, the Wolverines would travel back down the field and get in position for a 37 yard attempt. It was missed wide left to secure the victory for the Boilermakers. Purdue would go on to finish 5-6 and fire head coach Alex Agase at the end of the season.

October 6, 1984 Purdue Boilermakers 28, #2 Ohio State Buckeyes 23

Purdue University vs Ohio State University
Rod Woodson after his INT return
Set Number: X30585

People forget that Purdue has long been traumatizing Buckeye fans. The Buckeyes arrived in West Lafayette with a 4-0 record. They were headed straight for another Rose Bowl appearance that season. Purdue was unranked at 3-1, but had already collected Notre Dame’s scalp in the season opener. Jim Everett led the Boilermakers offense and Rod Woodson’s 55 yard interception return turned the tide. With time running out and the ball at Purdue’s 34 yard line, Ohio State lined up for a 4th down play. Their quarterback Mike Tomczak forgot the down and ended up throwing a pass out of bounds with 5 seconds left on the clock.

September 13, 1997 Purdue Boilermakers 28, #15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 17

Edwin Watson Purdue
Wrong year, but still Edwin Watson against Notre Dame

In Joe Tiller’s inaugural season the Boilermakers went out and lost their opener at Toledo by 14 points. Expectations were low the following week against rival Notre Dame. But a packed house saw Purdue snap an 11 game losing streak to the Irish behind Edwin Watson’s two rushing scores.

October 17, 2009 Purdue Boilermakers 26, #7 Ohio State Buckeyes 18

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 17 Ohio State at Purdue
Ryan Kerrigan!
Photo by Sandra Dukes/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Admittedly, this was not the biggest upset Purdue football pulled in the decade. It was also not the most important win in Ross-Ade during the aughts (that would be Brees to Morales). But since I did not grow up a Purdue fan and only started attending Purdue University in the fall of 2008, I’ve chosen this game. Like any self-respecting Cincinnatian, I grew up with a healthy disdain for the Buckeyes so I was looking forward to this game.

Danny Hope’s first season at Purdue had gotten off to a poor start at just 1-5. But the losses were close and you could argue that they were better than their record. I went further at the time and confidently stated that Purdue was the best 1-5 team in the country.

The 5-1 Buckeyes took an early lead at 7-3 and things looked like they might turn sour. But two field goals (including a 55 yarder by Carsen Wiggs as the half expired) gave Purdue a surprising 9-7 halftime lead. Two third quarter touchdowns from Joey Elliott to Aaron Valentin expanded that lead to 23-7 heading into the 4th. Although Ohio State would attempt a comeback late in the 4th quarter, a big third down sack by Ryan Kerrigan followed by a 4th down pass batted away helped secure the victory.

Honorable mention: 2000 Purdue 31, Ohio State 27, 2008 Purdue 62, Indiana 10, 2008 Purdue 48, Michigan 42

October 20, 2018 Purdue Boilermakers 49, #3 Ohio State Buckeyes 20

Ohio State v Purdue
Rondale Moore

The Tyler Trent game. Led by David Blough’s 378 yard performance, Rondale Moore’s incredible 170 yard receiving game, and D.J. Knox’s 128 yards on the ground the Boilermakers thrashed the undefeated Buckeyes.

Honorable mention: 2011 Purdue 26, Ohio State 23, 2017 Purdue 44, Ohio 21, 2017 Purdue 38, Indiana 35

November 6, 2021 Purdue Boilermakers 40, #3 Michigan State Spartans 29

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Michigan State at Purdue
David Bell
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I doubt this game stays on the list if I was to update it at the end of the decade (after all Ohio State comes to town this fall and any home win against wisconsin would be incredibly therapeutic at this point), but as it stands now this upset of #3 (and 8-0) Michigan State ranks as the best game at Ross-Ade in the 2020s. Fresh off a victory at #2 Iowa, the Boilermakers continued their winning ways against top teams by passing to David Bell. Then passing to David Bell some more. The junior star racked up 217 yards receiving to help the Boilermakers defeat the Spartans.

What was the point of this article?

Oh yeah, this was supposed to be an invitation for mailbag questions. If you’ve got questions for me about Purdue (basketball, football, other sports, academics) or just want to ask me how my day is going or my thoughts on things like the importance of the Battle of Waterloo, put them in the comments and I’ll try to work on getting answers out to you sometime Friday or Saturday.

If you don’t have any questions, then tell me your favorite Ross-Ade moment. Preferably from a Purdue victory, but if you are a non-Purdue fan I guess you can talk about that time your team beat a Hazell led program by 60 points.