HOUSTON – The Boilermakers left Rice Stadium with two things they didn’t want to leave with: a bad taste in their mouth and a loss due to missed opportunity.
The Boilers lost the game on a blocked field goal as time expired that would have given Purdue the 25-24 win against a Rice team who looked who looked as though they had just won the BCS National Championship. The Owl’s were ecstatic because, before they had beaten Purdue, they were 5-15 against Big Ten teams. This was the Owl’s last win against a Big Ten team since they beat Northwestern 40-34 in 1997. It was their first home win against a Big Ten team since 1990. Rice had also lost 21 straight games to BCS schools by an average of 28.9 points-per-game.
Early in the second quarter the Boilers looked like they were going to pull away, scoring ten straight points in just under six minutes to go ahead 17-10. Rice then scored a touchdown as time expired in the half and on their first possession to spoil all Purdue momentum and take the lead 24-17.
After the game Purdue head coach Danny Hope was disappointed at the way the Boilers played throughout parts of the game.
““We make too many mistakes,” Hope said. “We have to make more plays. We had our chances. We need to do a better job coaching and playing.”
Many were left shaking their heads at the questionable calls and missed opportunities that turned out to be the difference in the game.
One play that left Purdue fans shaking their heads was midway through the third quarter, with the score at 24-17, the Boilers chose to punt from the Rice 34 yard line (what would have been a 51 yard field goal) instead of letting all-american kicker Carson Wiggs-who made field goals last week from 47 and 50 yards- kick a field goal. The Boilers were then flagged for an illegal procedure, punted the ball, and pinned Rice inside their one yard-line only to jump offside prior to the next play and give it to Rice at the 6. Hope chose to punt because he didn’t want to give Rice too good of field position if Wiggs missed the field goal.
Before the game, Wiggs made field goals on both sides of the field from sixty plus yards but also thought it was a good decision to punt.
Another questionable call happened with just under two minutes to go in the third quarter, Purdue was still trailing 24-17 and had an opportunity to pull within four points. They chose to go for it and Akeem Shavers got stuffed. The Boilers ended up getting a safety on the next play but most were still wondering why not take the points when they are available. Hope attested his team was just trying to build some momentum going into the fourth quarter.
“If we would have gotten the first down or scored we would have tied the ballgame and then if we stop them we are in position to take the lead,” Hope said. “Very seldom do you not take the points but I felt our football team needed some momentum at the time.”
The defense also looked shaky at times, giving up 352 yards. In two weeks, the Boilers have given up 822 yards of total offense. The middle of the field seemed virtually wide open most of the game.
Rice head coach David Baliff was very happy to get the BCS monkey off his back.
“I’ve been responsible for part of (the streak) for five years. Some of the players have been responsible for six weeks of it. I’m glad it’s over because the thing I found out is that more people (outside the program) talk about it than we do. It is nice to not worry about it.”
The Boilers have a week to regroup before returning home to play Southeast Missouri State next weekend at 12.