WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue secured the Bucket and bowl eligibility Saturday.
But the status of Boilermakers coach Danny Hope remains up in the air.
Senior quarterback Robert Marve passed for a career-high 348 yards and four touchdowns to lead Purdue to a 56-35 victory over Indiana in the Old Oaken Bucket game in front of 42,638 fans at Ross-Ade Stadium. Senior running back Akeem Shavers had 126 rushing yards and one touchdown and also caught two passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) needed to win its final three games to become bowl eligible for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006-07. The Boilermakers won back-to-back road games at Iowa and Illinois and then scored 28 points off four IU turnovers to accomplish the feat.
Its a chance to stay together as a team for a couple of more weeks, its a chance to go to a bowl game, its a chance to say we turned things around and show people when youre down in a hole like that, keeping it positive and keep fighting with your family is the best way to approach it, Marve said.
Purdue will learn its bowl destination at a later date. Questions also remain about Hopes future with the program. The Boilermakers had expectations of competing for the Big Tens Leaders Division title but started conference play with five straight loses.
I dont have any idea, but either way, Im going to be OK. Ive learned to live life on the hot seat at Purdue, Hope said. Its been a way of life here. Id love to be back next year. Either way, Ill be OK.
Hope has a 22-27 record in four seasons at Purdue.
Hes always talking to us, and we respect him a lot, senior defensive tackle Kawann Short said. We dedicated this game to him and the seniors.
Hes the guy who helped me to get back to where Im at, Marve said.
Marve bounced back from an ACL injury to become the teams starting quarterback late in the season.
His pass to Shavers turned into a 73-yard touchdown with 10:40 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Boilermakers a 42-35 lead. Purdue scored the games final 21 points after IU had tied the game at 35.
This was a tremendous day for Purdue and they played a great second half, but we didnt make tackles, IU coach Kevin Wilson said. We played a solid game and guys played good, but when you turn the ball over four times, youre not going to win the game.
Cameron Coffman passed for 348 yards while Stephen Houston rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Houston also had 95 receiving yards.
The Hoosiers made strides in Wilsons second season, going 4-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Ten games.
Purdue, meanwhile, could be headed to Dallas or Houston for a bowl game.
Not many teams in the country can bounce back from 3-6 and get themselves into postseason play, Hope said. Any time you overcome adversity, thats a huge step forward, not a step backward. If we had folded tent and found a way to lose and did not surface as winners, guys that showed a desire to win and be successful, then I would say it was a setback. I think it was an extremely successful season. Most people in our shoes did not make it in the end, but we did.