Purdue lost a heartbreaking rivalry game against Indiana University on Saturday.
Purdue took one of Indiana’s best teams in three decades into overtime and was almost able to squeak out the win. The Boilers (4-8, 3-6 Big Ten) had to overcome an inordinate amount of injuries this year and still almost beat the Hoosiers (8-4, 5-4).
Sophomore quarterback Aidan O’Connell started the season listed as the fourth-string quarterback; no one thought he would play any meaningful snaps this season. Once the injury bug bit the Boilers though, O’Connell led the team for multiple games and proved he had the talent to play.
Other than a costly interception in the end zone early in the game, O’Connell consistently placed Purdue into positions to score and stay in the game.
Junior running back Zander Horvath proved Purdue could have a run game. Horvath stepped up in the rainy conditions in West Lafayette and helped drive the offense down the field. Horvath produced 164 yards on 23 carries and found the end zone twice.
Freshman wide receiver David Bell had the game of his career. He had multiple circus-like catches and produced when the Black and Gold needed it. Purdue will have a deadly duo next season, with Bell and sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore, who battled injury for most of the season, both returning.
The combination of the rushing attack and passing game gave the Purdue offense a chance at scoring throughout the game. The Boilers’ weak spot was the defense.
Exactly like the offense, the defensive side of the ball had to endure key injuries which proved costly. The defensive backs struggled to stop Indiana’s aerial assault, giving up 337 yards in the air and three touchdowns. The lack of passing defense helped Indiana build an early lead that Purdue had to overcome late.
Indiana’s rushing game was not as strong as Purdue’s, but the Hoosiers still got the job done. They gained 185 yards on the ground, which is nothing major but big enough to keep drives alive.
Purdue’s injury curse will be good for the future. Countless young players — who would not have played this season without the injuries — got valuable playing time. These young players will get their chance to lead the team next year.
Head coach Jeff Brohm and his staff will be returning with the players, and the chemistry should be dangerous next year.
Although the season ended in disappointment, Boiler fans should remain excited for the future and see where Purdue can go in the next few years.