Saturday, November 26, 2011
Final: Purdue 33, Indiana 25
By Brian Bennett
Purdue has the Old Oaken Bucket back. More importantly, the Boilers have bowl eligibility.
It wasn't easy, as Purdue had to hold on for a 33-25 win on the road against rival Indiana. But the team looks likely to make the postseason for the first time since 2007 by getting its sixth win.
Fittingly in a season where special teams played such a big part in the outcomes (Middle Tennessee, Rice, Ohio State), the kicking game again played a huge role. Carson Wiggs kicked four field goals, Raheem Mostert had a huge kick return and a Cody Webster punt was downed at the Indiana 1 on the Hoosiers' final possession of the game.
The bad news for the Boilers was that running back Ralph Bolden appeared to injure his knee after rushing for 55 yards. Bolden has dealt with ACL problems his whole career, and we can only wish him the best with this latest injury. Akeem Hunt stepped up in Bolden's absence to produce 100 rushing yards on 10 carries, including a 50-yard gain that set up Purdue's final touchdown. Josh Johnson sealed the win with an interception of Tre Roberson with 4:38 left.
With Illinois losing its sixth straight game on Saturday, the Boilers should get the Big Ten's final bowl tie-in slot if the league gets two in the BCS. If not, another game with an open spot would likely scoop up this team since its fan base should be excited about the postseason. Danny Hope definitely bought himself some more time with the win, as a second straight loss to Indiana would have caused some serious questions to be raised in West Lafayette.
Indiana finishes 1-11 with no wins over FBS teams. There are some positives, because the Hoosiers pushed a lot of youngsters into duty and have solid building blocks in Roberson and running back Stephen Houston (seven rushes for 129 yards and a touchdown). But Kevin Wilson still has a serious rebuilding project ahead of him.