Purdue wasn’t going to have a letdown, Saturday. The team couldn’t afford one, not if they hope to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
The Boilermakers steamrolled Southeast Missouri, 59-0, at Ross-Ade Stadium to get their season back on the winning track.
“Our team showed up and we played hard,” said head coach Danny Hope. “I know that Southeast Missouri isn’t quite the same as Rice or some of the other teams we are going to play, but it was the game we were playing today...we got a lot out of today”
Most importantly a win. The Boilers needed this win and, besides the first half of the first quarter, they played like they needed it.
“A win is a win. (Southeast Missouri) didn’t come in here and lay down, so it feels good to get a victory, a big victory and a shutout makes it just that much better,” said linebacker Chris Carlino.
The Boilers dominated the Redhawks in every way.
Purdue racked up 627 yards of total offense, including 393 yards on the ground. Both are the most for the Boilermakers under Danny Hope.
Akeem Shavers (11 carries,75 yds) and Ralph Bolden (11 carries, 57-yards) led a prolific Purdue ground attack. Both junior running backs scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Freshman Akeem Hunt also found the end zone twice, both in the fourth quarter.
The defense made plays, as well. The Boilers held the Redhawks to 153 total yards and recorded the program’s first shutout since 2004.
“I think we got better as a football team throughout the course of the week and I think it showed up some today on the field, and we won and that was our goal for the week, get better and win, that was a pretty simple assignment.” said Hope.
Purdue is now 2-1, but the jury is still out on what to expect from the team from West Lafayette.
The Boilermakers needed a fourth quarter comeback at home to beat Middle Tennessee in the season opener and then lost at Rice last week when the Owls blocked what would have been the game winning field goal.
With all due respect to Southeast Missouri, which dropped to 1-16 against FBS opponents, this game wasn’t the litmus test Purdue will use to measure how good it really is. That probably comes in two weeks when the Boilermakers host Notre Dame.
But, that doesn’t mean Saturday’s win wasn’t pivotal.
“(The win means) a lot of momentum, but at the same time it’s one game at a time. We won this game, we are going to enjoy this win, but when we get back to it this week…we have to game plan and continue to work together. We have to want it,” said defensive tackle Bruce Gaston.
Now the challenge is making winning a habit.
Purdue has not won back-to-back games since October of last year when it opened the Big Ten season with consecutive wins over Northwestern and Minnesota. The Boilers ended 2010 on a six game losing streak and 2011 has already proven to be a rollercoaster.
“It was really important that we felt good as a team going into the open week,” Hope said. “We wanted to win, win big, have fun, get better, and feel good this week. That’s what this football team needed to do.”
Purdue will feel a lot better, more often, by learning to win with consistency.