DALLAS - Purdue limited unanimous All-Big 12 running back Joseph Randle to his second-lowest output of the season with 66 yards on 3.9 yards per carry and no touchdowns.
However, the Cowboys torched Purdue for 311 yards and five touchdowns caught by five different receivers. Clint Chelf completed 17 of 22 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns en route to game MVP honors. Backup J.W. Walsh tossed two touchdown passes in relief.
“Their quarterbacks played awesome, and their offensive line blocked,” Short said. “It was up to the defensive line to make disruption, and we didn’t do it and they took advantage of it.”
Defensive end Ryan Russell said Oklahoma State’s offense was the best Purdue has gone up against this season.
“They had schemes to beat everything,” Russell said. “They knew what defenses and coverages we ran and out-executed. They had up-tempo at times, then they would slow the pace down. Run the ball, run the ball, big play, come back and do a zone … it was a lot and they took control of the game early on.”
Purdue took care of the ball well in season-ending back-to-back wins against Illinois and with just one turnover in the two games combined.
But five turnovers plagued the Boilermakers against the Cowboys, leading to 24 Oklahoma State points.
Marve said he could tell that Oklahoma State had watched a lot of film on the Purdue offense, and he felt like the Cowboy defense jumped a lot of Purdue’s plays.
“I don’t know if it was the month off or what it was, but we didn’t start clicking until very late in the game,” Marve said. “We didn’t make the plays when they were there on many of different reasons.”
Purdue’s two starters who hail from the Texas had some of their best games of the season in their native states.
Running back Akeem Shavers had 93 yards on just 14 carries and 54 yards receiving before going down with a knee injury. After the game, Shavers said he plans to get an MRI to be safe but he thinks his knee is structurally fine.
“Shavers has (made plays) for us the last three games,” Marve said. “He is one of the big reasons why we went to the bowl game.”
Defensive end Ryan Russell had a team-high seven tackles and one of Purdue’s two sacks. He said playing in front of several friends and family members in addition to feeling healthy led to his season-high performance in tackles.
“I felt a lot better than I have in a while,” Russell said. “Seeing my friends and family in there, I wanted to play for them. No matter what the scoreboard says, no matter what is going on, you just want to go your hardest every time. I didn’t want them to feel like I gave up at any time.”
Leaving on a high note
Tommie Thomas’ last game as a Boilermaker will be remembered as his best.
The Robbins, Ill. native had just one career catch entering the Heart of Dallas Bowl. In Tuesday’s loss, he hauled in three catches for 28 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown with 2:52 remaining in the game.
“I was just trying to cherish every moment of it,” Thomas said. “I’ll never put those pads on again, so just getting the opportunity to be in that position and make plays … I just feel blessed. I can’t sit here and say that I’m not excited and proud of myself, because I am.”
Marve noted how happy he was to be able to throw a touchdown pass to Thomas, one of his closest friends.
Although they won’t be playing football together anymore, Thomas said he and Marve have a friendship that will last forever.
“I could see him as not just a brother, but as one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” Thomas said. “The first day I met him, we said we were going to end this together. When we found out he got that sixth year, there was a party in West Lafayette for me and him. We were really excited to go out with each other and graduate with each other.”
Purdue used last season’s Little Caesars Bowl victory over Western Michigan as a springboard into the off-season.
Entering Tuesday’s matchup, Higgins preached the importance of using this year’s bowl game in a similar fashion for the 2013 season.
After the 58-14 loss, Higgins called the bowl game a “small catapult”.
“Any time you can go play in a bowl game, I think it helps you to have confidence,” Higgins said. “I think there were some positives, and when we sit down and watch the film we’ll find a bunch of positive things we did in the game. “