11/24/18 Indiana, Isaac Zico

Then-senior wide receiver Isaac Zico raises his arms, symbolizing a touchdown after then-senior running back Markell Jones crossed the goal line for Purdue in the fourth quarter of 2018's Old Oaken Bucket game.

Dear fellow basketball school,

We’re hosting you for Thanksgiving this weekend, and we really appreciate the opportunity to get together. Our relationship has been contentious, but I feel like we can come together this year, considering the special circumstances we’re under.

You see, we’ve been having some troubles with Pete. He’s had health problems and the team won’t be going on the school trip to a Christmas game this year. We hear you guys are going to Nashville, and we think that’s very nice. This is your best year since, what, 2007?

Nothing’s really going to change that. We really don’t have anything to lose except for a bucket. Y’all have the opportunity to go either 7-5 — your best finish in 12 years — or 8-4, your best finish since 1993.

We hold all the power in this matchup, and we’re more than happy to “crabs in a barrel” you guys down to a slightly worse finish. We can have a lot of fun with this. Let’s introduce one gimmick per quarter that will make the game like an obstacle course. Consider it a science experiment.

In the first quarter, nobody will be allowed to kick the ball. We will only see turnovers on downs, interceptions, fumble recoveries or touchdowns — or safeties if y’all are feeling fun. The only exception will come for kickoffs, because those are mandated by the rules.

The second quarter will feature defense only. No matter who has the ball, the defensive line will be on the field. I want to see George Karlaftis throw a deep route to Cory Trice. Every play will be a big-man play — it’ll be great.

After the half, we run only deep routes. Put all 11 defenders on one wideout, but you’d better get the read right. We’ll both have third-stringers out there, let’s see what we can do. Let’s break the record for combined passing yardage in a single quarter, why not?

To round out the game, we need to empty the playbook. Once you’ve run an offensive play, you are not allowed to run it again. I want fake punts, fake field goals from your own red zone, the Philly Special if you’ve got it lying around somewhere. This game should look like the Harlem Globetrotters invaded Lucas Oil Stadium by the two-minute warning.

Hopefully you will recognize the possibilities for fun and wonder that can bring us together this weekend. After all, what’s more Thanksgiving than downing some eggnog, yelling at a football game and falling into a turkey-induced coma?

Love,

The Exponent Sports Desk

P.S. Can we please stop telling the story about Uncle Bobby and the chair? I admit it’s entertaining, but he’s setting a bad example for the kids.

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