The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 27, 2021 7:30 pm

Purdue beats Indiana, 44-7, recaptures Old Oaken Bucket

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – The Old Oaken Bucket traveled to Ross-Ade Stadium today for the 123rd matchup between Purdue and Indiana. It will stay in West Lafayette tonight.

The favored Boilermakers took care of business against the hapless Hoosiers (2-10, 0-9 Big Ten), pulling away in the second half to win 44-7 and recapture the trophy it lost double overtime in 2019. The game was canceled in 2020 for the first time in a century.

The Boilermaker passing attack, which is operating at a level without equal in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State, led the way in the victory. Quarterback Aidan O'Connell went 26 for 31 for 278 yards and four touchdowns. In his last four games, he is throwing for 406.8 yards per contest with 10 total touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3) scored 37 unanswered points after Donaven McCulley scored on a 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to knot the score at 7. The go-ahead touchdown was a 33-yard pass from O'Connell to tight end Paul Piferi down the left sideline, a beautifully-designed play that sent the second tight end into wide open space while all the other receivers flowed the opposite direction. O'Connell made an on-the-money throw while rolling to his left.

Purdue led 17-7 at halftime and put the game away early in the second half with back-to-back quick strike touchdown drives. O'Connell capped the first march with a letter-perfect 21-yard back-shoulder throw to Jackson Anthrop at the pylon and finished the second with an easy 5-yard out route to TJ Sheffield to make it 31-7. By then, a significant portion of the Indiana fans in the stands had cleared out.

Here are some key facts from the rest of the game:

  • The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 75-42-6 and have won 3 of 4 contested between coaches Jeff Brohm and Tom Allen. The victory today was the most lopsided outcome in the series since Purdue won 62-10 in 2008.
  • Indiana finished the season winless in Big Ten play for the first time since 2011. The Hoosiers lost nine in a row to end their season after a 2-2 start.
  • Purdue won eight games in the regular season for the first time since 2006. With a win in its bowl game, it will have a 9-win season for the first time since 2003.
  • Boilers wide receiver David Bell had six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, leaving him 22 receiving yards short of setting the single-season Purdue record in that category. John Standeford is the current record-holder with 1,307 yards in 2002.
  • Bell and defensive end George Karlaftis, who are both juniors, went through Senior Day festivities at Ross-Ade Stadium as they ponder whether to forego their senior seasons and enter the NFL. Both would likely be early-round pro draft picks.
  • Purdue defensive tackle Branson Deen had a monster performance up front, registering three tackles for loss, including a sack.
  • Boilers defensive lineman Lawrence Johnson, a Snider graduate, had a tackle. He also drew a holding penalty after he beat an IU offensive lineman and had a clear lane to the quarterback on a fourth-quarter play.
  • Purdue and Indiana each started walk-ons at quarterback and running back: O'Connell and Zander Horvath for Purdue, quarterback Grant Gremel and running back Davion Ervin-Poindexter for the Hoosiers.
  • Gremel went 18 for 30 for 147 yards and an interception in his first career start. He is the fourth Indiana starting quarterback this season.
  • After their opening 75-yard touchdown drive, Indiana managed only 130 total yards. The Boilermakers outgained the Hoosiers 447-205.
  • Purdue will return to action for a bowl game, likely in late December. The Boilermakers will probably be headed to one of the mid-tier Big Ten bowls, such as the Las Vegas or Music City Bowl. They could theoretically also sneak into the Gator Bowl, where the Hoosiers played in 2019 after an identical 8-4 season.
  • Indiana's season is over and the Hoosiers will begin the process of rebuilding the program momentum they lost this year.

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