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Boiler up! Purdue blasts No. 2 Ohio State, 49-20, shaking up Big Ten picture

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After starting the season with three tough losses, the season looked bleak for Purdue. But the season has taken quite a dramatic turn for the Boilermakers after a 49-20 victory over No. 2 Ohio State became the fourth straight win in a row for Purdue. This one, highlighted by three fourth-quarter touchdowns by the home team, may have redefined the season not just for Purdue, but for Ohio State and the Big Ten as a whole.

Purdue quarterback David Blough passed for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win, with Rondale Moore being on the receiving end of 170 yards and two touchdowns. Moore’s second touchdown was an incredible mix of determination and a poor display of tackling by Ohio State, essentially summing up the way this game came to a close in the fourth quarter.

Purdue running back D.J. Knox also had a big night for the Boilermakers by rushing for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts.

It may not have been a turning point, but the defining moment of the night for Purdue may have come at the end of the first half when Purdue ran a fake field goal play to pick up a first down in the closing moments of the first half. One play later, Blough completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Moore to push the Purdue lead to 14-3 just before halftime. The touchdown drive came immediately after Ohio State missed a field goal that could have cut Purdue’s lead to 7-6. It was a gutsy decision by Jeff Brohm, but one that may have been necessary.

While Ohio State’s defense could not slow down Purdue’s offense in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes didn’t exactly go away quietly. Dwayne Haskins kept Ohio State in the game with a 431-yard performance and two touchdowns, including one on a fourth down play with under five minutes to play to cut the Purdue lead to 35-20. But even one of this season’s best offensive players in the Big Ten was prone to making a mistake. Haskins was picked off by Markus Bailey late int he fourth quarter, and the Purdue defender returned the interception 41 yards for one last exclamation point on the wild upset victory.

With the win, Purdue manages to stay right in the thick of the Big Ten West Division race. Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue all have just one conference loss, although Purdue’s only loss to this point has come against Northwestern. Purdue will also get Iowa and Wisconsin at home in November, and it has become clear this is not a place you want to travel to play right now. Purdue has not played in a Big Ten championship game, which is played in Indianapolis, but perhaps these Boilermakers have something special cooking right now. They absolutely cannot be dismissed in the West Division now.

Ohio State’s setback means the Buckeyes are now looking up in the Big Ten East standings for the first time this season. The team sitting above them just so happens to be Michigan, the last undefeated team in Big Ten play this season after the Wolverines took care of Michigan State earlier in the day. The fate of the Big Ten East could very well come down to the regular season finale between Ohio State and Michigan this year in Ohio Stadium, and Ohio State will clearly have some work to do if they are going to climb back to being the team to beat in the division they were expected to be.

It is still too early to go crazy over the College Football Playoff implications for Ohio State with this loss, because a one-loss Big Ten champion — be it Ohio State or Michigan — would still figure to have a solid chance of being one of the four teams selected at the end of the year. The first playoff rankings will come at the end of the month, but the Buckeyes will be sitting on this loss when those rankings make their debut, so they will not have a chance to redeem themselves in front of the watchful eyes of the selection committee.

Ohio State will look take next week off with a bye before looking for a rebound win on November 3 at home against Nebraska. Purdue will look to continue flexing against the Big Ten East Division next week when they travel to East Lansing to take on a beat-up Michigan State team.

The last time Purdue beat the No. 2 team in the country was October 6, 1984. The opponent that day? Ohio State.

Purdue tricks Ohio State with fake field goal and capitalizes with touchdown before halftime

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Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm knows his team cannot afford to settle for field goals if the Boilermakers are going to upset No. 2 Ohio State tonight. So with a 7-3 lead late in the first half and a fourth down from the Ohio State 13-yard line, Brohm opted to try a fake field goal in an attempt to tack on a few more points just before halftime. Fortunately for Brohm, that worked out to perfection, and now Purdue holds a 14-3 lead on the Buckeyes at halftime as result.

Holder Joe Schopper took the snap and promptly got up and ran to the left side of the field, needing four yards to pick up a first down for Purdue. Schopper had the room but needed to throw his body into a defender just enough to make sure he picked up the first down. Against Ohio State’s special teams unit, he did just that.

Had Purdue gone into halftime with a 10-3 lead, there may not be a Boilermaker fan in the state of Indiana that would have passed up on that scenario if it was an option before the game started. And the possibility of still having to settle for a field goal could still have become a reality if not for the first-and-goal pass from David Blough to Rondale Moore, who scooted into the end zone to cushion the Purdue lead.

Purdue’s late-half touchdown drive came immediately after Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil missed on a 35-yard field goal to try cutting Purdue’s lead to one. So go ahead and consider this a 10-point swing that Brohm was not content to let slip by him.

We’ll see if Brohm has to dig into a bag of tricks in the second half.

Austin Appleby wins starting QB job at Purdue as ball control improves

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Purdue will be hoping experience is the key for its new starting quarterback. Austin Appleby was named the starting quarterback for the Boilermakers by head coach Darrell Hazell. Appleby started seven games for Purdue last season, and he took the lumps that came with them. Purdue was 1-6 in games started by Appleby, but there was plenty of blame to go around with Purdue’s struggles last season. Appleby beat out redshirt freshman David Blough for the job.

Appleby was Purdue’s leading passer last fall after replacing Danny Etling. Appleby passed for 1,449 yards and 10 touchdowns but was intercepted 11 times and completed just 52.9 percent of his pass attempts in 10 games. He was more reliable inside the red zone, completing 16 of 26 pass attempts and tossing five touchdowns with zero interceptions. If nothing else, that should give Hazell something to build on with his new starting QB. Protecting the football has been a key in camp for Purdue.

“He did a good job, in my opinion, of taking care of the ball throughout fall camp,” Hazell said after announcing his decision. “That’s what we asked him to do. He made enough of those makeable plays that we asked him to do. That’s why we’re going with Austin.”

Purdue will open the season on the road against defending Conference USA champion Marshall.

Purdue names Etling as starting QB

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Purdue has named its starting quarterback for the 2014 season, and it should come as no surprise. Sophomore Danny Etling, after moving into the role final five games into the 2013 season for the Boilermakers, has been given the starting job to open the 2014 season by head coach Darrell Hazell. Hazell made the announcement on Monday.

Last season Etling appeared in eight games and he led the team with 1,690 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Etling beat Austin Appleby and David Blough for the starting job under center. Appleby will likely be Purdue’s top backup quarterback this season, while the possibility of redshirting Blough continues to be discussed.

Etling and Purdue have a good amount of work to do before thinking about making any sort fo a run in the Big Ten, which is a rarity for the Boilermakers. Purdue is expected to be one of the teams on the bottom of the Big Ten this season, but if the offensive line can find any stability and protect Etling, a former four-star pro-style recruit, the foundation for some success on offense could be developed with Etling at the helm.