Indiana's AJ Barner (88) runs after the catch during the first half of the Indiana versus Purdue football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.

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Purdue topples Indiana, earns Big Ten title game spot

Purdue clinched its first Big Ten West Division in school history by rallying for a 30-16 victory over host Indiana on Saturday at Bloomington, Ind.

Aidan O’Connell went 18-of-29 passing for 290 yards with two touchdowns for the Boilermakers, who took home the “Old Oaken Bucket” for the fourth time in the past five years.

Purdue (8-4, 6-3) advanced to the Big Ten title game on Dec. 3 at Indianapolis, where it will face No. 3 and defending conference champion Michigan (12-0, 9-0). The Wolverines clinched the East Division title with a 45-23 win over No. 2 Ohio State at Columbus, Ohio.

Purdue’s Devin Mockobee rushed for 99 yards and a score on 15 carries and caught five passes for 58 yards. Charlie Jones had four receptions, including a 60-yard touchdown catch, for 143 yards.

Trailing 7-3 at halftime, Purdue took a 10-7 lead it wouldn’t relinquish on O’Connell’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Payne Durham with 10:35 left in the third quarter.

After forcing Indiana to punt after just three plays, Purdue extended its lead to 17-7 on Mockobee’s 27-yard touchdown run with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter.

Indiana (4-8, 2-7) pulled to within 17-10 on Charles Campbell’s 28-yard field goal with 11:06 left in the game.

But Purdue put the game away three plays later, when O’Connell threw a 60-yard scoring strike to Jones for a 24-10 lead with 9:38 left.

Cornerback Cory Trice’s 6-yard interception return made it 30-10 after a missed extra-point with 2:17 left.

After Purdue took a 3-0 lead on Mitchell Fineran’s 29-yard field goal with 11:49 left in the first quarter, the Hoosiers found the end zone just 47 seconds later on Jaylin Lucas’ 71-yard run that ended the first-half scoring.

Indiana had a major loss on its next series, when quarterback Dexter Williams II was carted off the field and transported to a hospital after sustaining what appeared to be a severe injury to his right leg.

Williams came away with the injury when he planted his foot to throw a pass during the first quarter. He wasn’t hit on the play.

Wiliams was replaced by Connor Bazelak, who finished 24-of-42 passing for 201 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Lucas ran for 100 yards on nine carries. Josh Henderson had five catches for 35 yards and a touchdown for the Hoosiers.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O'Connell (16) looks up at the scoreboard after calling a timeout during the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has more on list at Indiana than bucket

Purdue’s path to its first Big Ten West Division title is relatively simple: defeat the host Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday and hope Iowa falls at home to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday.

The Boilermakers (7-4, 5-3) head to Bloomington, Ind., trying to defeat the Hoosiers (4-7, 2-6) and claim the Old Oaken Bucket trophy for the fourth time in five years.

“You have a lot that you’re playing for,” Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell said. “A lot of people talk about postseason stuff, whether it’s a bowl game or whatever it is. We preach it’s a one-game season. It’s not that we’re blind and we don’t see it, but it’s to make sure we’re locked in.”

Purdue is coming off a 17-9 win over Northwestern in which O’Connell went 16-for-25 passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Boilermakers’ second straight victory, returning them to contention after they were left for dead upon losing to fellow West contenders Wisconsin and Iowa.

Indiana, meantime, ended a seven-game losing streak when Shaun Shivers’ 1-yard run in the second overtime — followed by a two-point conversion and a defensive stand — lifted the Hoosiers to a 39-31 win at Michigan State.

The biggest question facing Purdue is the availability of leading rusher Devin Mockobee. He suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Northwestern and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Mockobee has rushed for 750 yards and seven touchdowns on 150 carries this season.

Purdue’s O’Connell leads the Big Ten with 283.4 passing yards per game (20 TDs, 11 interceptions) with Charlie Jones third nationally in receptions (93 for 1,056 yards) and touchdown catches (11).

Indiana coach Tom Allen will wait until later in the week to announce who will start for the Hoosiers under center.

Connor Bazelak was benched against Michigan State in favor of the more mobile Dexter Williams II, who went 2-for-7 passing for 31 yards, in addition to rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Bazelak has completed just 54.9 percent of his passes for 2,111 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Shivers leads the ground game, rushing for 534 yards and six scores.

“I said this is the biggest game of the season. Why? Because it’s the next one,” Allen said. “I get it. We understand we’re playing for a trophy and a trophy that means a whole lot to this university.”

It will be the 124th meeting between the in-state schools, with Purdue leading the series 75-42-6. It’s the 97th game for the Old Oaken Bucket, with the Boilermakers holding a 61-32-3 edge.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers tight end Payne Durham (87) catches a pass that results in a touchdown against Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Jeremiah Lewis (9) during the second quarter  at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue stays alive in Big Ten West by beating Northwestern

Purdue stayed in the hunt for the Big Ten’s West Division crown with a 17-9 victory over visiting Northwestern Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind.

Quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns in his final home game for Purdue (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten), which must defeat Indiana in next week’s regular-season finale and hope for Iowa to lose one of its final two games in order to reach the Big Ten championship game.

Northwestern (1-10, 1-7) dropped its 10th straight game as sophomore walk-on Cole Freeman made his first start at quarterback. Evan Hull rushed for 105 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 carries while Freeman completed 9 of 20 passes for 78 yards and an interception.

Purdue opened the scoring by capping a 10-play, 70-yard drive with O’Connell’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Jones. O’Connell bought time moving in the pocket before finding Jones with 1:48 left in the first quarter.

Northwestern responded with a 13-play drive to Purdue’s 5-yard line, but settled for Adam Stage’s 23-yard field goal at 12:41 of the second.

Purdue boosted its lead to 14-3 when O’Connell used a play-action fake to connect with tight end Payne Durham for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:12 left in the first half.

The Boilermakers thought they broke open the game on the second half’s first possession. Linebacker Jalen Graham stepped in front of a Freeman slant at the Wildcats 49 and high-stepped down the right sideline into the end zone, but officials flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct to take away the touchdown. That drive ended with a missed field goal.

Northwestern jumped back into the game after Anthony Tyus blocked a Purdue punt to set up Northwestern at midfield near the end of the third quarter. Eight plays later, Hull lined up in Wildcat formation, snagged a high shotgun snap and ran in for a 2-yard score. Freeman’s 2-point conversion pass was incomplete, though, and Purdue’s lead stayed at 14-9 with 12:49 to go.

The Boilermakers pushed the margin to 17-9 when Mitchell Fineran curled in a 26-yard field goal with 7:08 left.

Northwestern ran repeated Wildcat plays for running backs Hull and Cam Porter and got all the way to Purdue’s 43, but Freeman fumbled while being sacked on fourth-and-4. Jack Sullivan made the hit and O.C. Brothers the recovery to give Purdue the ball with 1:26 to go.

Purdue running back Devin Mockobee — the team’s leading rusher — was injured on the game’s first drive and did not return. In his stead, Dylan Downing rushed 17 times for 49 yards and Kobe Lewis rushed 11 times for 42 yards.

–Field Level Media

Purdue pushes to stay in contention for Big Ten title

Purdue still has a chance to win the Big Ten West Division title despite a 1-2 record in the past three games.

Beginning with Saturday’s visit from struggling Northwestern in West Lafayette, Ind., the Boilermakers must win their final two regular-season games while hoping Iowa loses at least once over the next two weeks.

“I think that our guys have worked hard to put ourselves in a position to achieve hopefully a good season if we continue to play well,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “But just like every week, there is a lot of football left to be played, and we have to find ways to continue to improve.

“In most of our wins against (Football Bowl Subdivision) opponents, it’s been by a touchdown or less. We have got beaten handily a couple times in the past months, (as well).”

Purdue (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) improved to 2-0 against ranked foes this season with a 31-24 victory at No. 21 Illinois last week.

Aidan O’Connell passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns, twice connecting with Payne Durham, while Devin Mockobee rushed for 106 yards and a score.

However, the status of linebackers Kieren Douglas and Clyde Washington is in doubt after both were injured against Illinois.

Northwestern (1-9, 1-6) hasn’t tested opposing defenses often since defeating Nebraska in Ireland in the season opener. The Wildcats are coming off a 31-3 loss at Minnesota that extended their skid to nine games, a grueling stretch in which the team has been outscored 256-122.

Minnesota outgained Northwestern 366-278 while rushing for 302 yards on 58 carries, an average of 5.2 yards per tote.

Northwestern must figure out its starting quarterback situation after injuries prompted the team to use Brendan Sullivan, Ryan Hilinski, Carl Richardson and Cole Freeman under center against the Gophers. Sullivan was 9 for 11 for 94 yards before exiting the game late in the first half with an injury.

“We had a lot of guys that probably didn’t expect to play as much as maybe they anticipated going into the game that played a ton,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It’ll be great lessons learned for them.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Kaleb Johnson (2) stiff arms Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Semisi Fakasiieiki (97) during the NCAA football game, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind.

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Kaleb Johnson and Iowa overwhelm Purdue

Kaleb Johnson rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown and Spencer Petras threw two touchdown passes to boost visiting Iowa to a 24-3 victory against Purdue on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

Iowa (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) dealt a blow to Purdue (5-4, 3-3) in its bid for a Big Ten West title. The Hawkeyes outgained the Boilermakers 376-255, forced a pair of turnovers and snapped a two-game losing streak in the series.

The Hawkeyes never trailed and put a stranglehold on the outcome two plays into the third quarter when Johnson broke through the middle then down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown run. Johnson, a freshman, rushed 22 times on the afternoon and averaged 9.1 yards per carry.

Petras was 13-of-23 passing for 192 yards and connected for scores with Sam LaPorta and Nico Ragaini.

Charlie Jones, an Iowa transfer, had 11 receptions for 104 yards to pace Purdue on an otherwise difficult day for Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who completed just 20 of 43 passes for 168 yards with two picks.

Devin Mockobee led the Purdue ground game, rushing 14 times for 65 yards.

After punting on their first two drives, the Hawkeyes clicked offensively over their next three, taking a 17-0 lead with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter.

About the only thing that went against Iowa over that span was a sequence on its third scoring drive in which a first-and-goal from the Purdue 2-yard line ultimately transformed into a 26-yard Drew Stevens field goal. A run for negative yardage, a muffed exchange and a sack sent the Hawkeyes moving backward.

Purdue sputtered in a similar fashion on the ensuing possession. The Boilermakers had a first-and-goal from the 2 but had to settle for Mitchell Fineran’s 34-yard field goal with 1:40 left before halftime. Two incompletions and a sack kept them out of the end zone.

Stevens’ 44-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright with 7:31 remaining in the game.

The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 50-40-3.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  The Wisconsin Badgers line up for a play during the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin earns 16th straight win over Purdue, 35-24

Graham Mertz jump-started Wisconsin with two first-quarter touchdown passes and the Badgers went on to a 35-24 victory over visiting Purdue in a Big Ten matchup on Saturday, their 16th consecutive win over the Boilermakers.

Mertz completed 5 of his first 7 passes for 78 yards and two scores to pace the Badgers to a 21-0 lead after one period. Wisconsin led 35-10 before the Boilermakers got two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Wisconsin (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) bounced back from a 34-28 double-overtime loss at Michigan State to improve to 2-1 under interim coach Jim Leonhard.

Purdue (5-3, 3-2), which had won four straight, dropped out of a tie for the Big Ten West lead with No. 18 Illinois, which was idle. The Boilermakers have not beaten Wisconsin since 2003.

Mertz completed 13 of 21 passes for 203 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Braelon Allen ran for 113 yards on 16 carries, the first 100-yard rusher against Purdue this season.

Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell, who entered as the Big Ten’s leading passer with 325 yards per game, finished 31 of 46 for 320 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions, including a pick-six.

Mertz connected with Skyler Bell on a 29-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-play, 76-yard opening drive.

On Purdue’s third play from scrimmage, safety John Torchio picked off O’Connell and returned it 31 yards to put the Badgers up 14-0. Allen’s 41-yard run set up Mertz’s 3-yard scoring pass to Chimere Dike to make it 21-0.

Purdue’s Mitchell Fineran’s 36-yard field goal made it 21-3 at the half.

Torchio’s second interception on Purdue’s first series of the second half set up Allen’s 14-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-3.

Purdue recovered a muffed punt to set up O’Connell’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Payne Durham to pull within 28-10.

Isaac Guerendo put Wisconsin in front 35-10 with 2:42 left in the third quarter with a 54-yard touchdown run, shaking off a tackler at the Purdue 45.

Devin Mockobee, who finished with 108 yards on 23 carries, scored on a 1-yard dive early in the fourth quarter to make it 35-17. O’Connell added 1-yard touchdown sneak with 1:24 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Jalen Graham (6) forces a fumble from Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson (11) during the first half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue fends off Nebraska 43-37, wins fourth straight

Aidan O’Connell threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns, and Devin Mockobee rushed for 178 yards and a score as Purdue outlasted visiting Nebraska 43-37 in their Big Ten matchup on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Boilermakers (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) survived a monstrous game from Cornhuskers wide receiver Trey Palmer, who piled up 297 yards from scrimmage. He caught seven passes for 237 yards and two scores, one of them a 72-yarder from Casey Thompson that pulled Nebraska within 34-30 late in the third quarter.

However, Purdue extended its lead to 37-30 with 10 minutes left in the game on Mitch Fineran’s 34-yard field goal, his third of the game.

Nebraska’s next possession ended when Reese Taylor picked off Thompson at the Purdue 38. The Boilermakers turned that into Charlie Jones’ 2-yard TD reception, giving them some breathing room at 43-30 with 6:55 left in the game, although Fineran missed the extra point.

But Thompson again connected with Palmer, this time for 64 yards, to get to the Purdue 6. Two plays later, Anthony Grant’s 1-yard run and Timmy Bleekrode’s point-after cut the deficit to 43-37 with just under six minutes left.

The Boilermakers kept possession the rest of the way, including converting a fourth-and-1 at midfield and running out the clock.

In the third quarter, Palmer’s end-around set up Bleekrode’s third field goal, a 22-yarder, as the Cornhuskers (3-4, 2-2) crept to within 27-23.

Thompson completed 16 of 29 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions.

O’Connell went 35-of-54 passing, and his four touchdowns matched a season high.

Purdue scored 17 points in a span of 5:14 late in the second quarter and led 27-13 at halftime.

Nebraska countered with the first 13 points of the third quarter, including a 37-yard scoring toss to Palmer and two Bleekrode field goals.

TJ Sheffield’s second touchdown, a 28-yard completion from O’Connell, extended the lead to 34-23 with 2:18 left in the third quarter.

The Boilermakers, who won their fourth straight game, had four sacks to none for the Cornhuskers, and had the edge in total yards (608-476), first downs (38-15) and total plays (101-52).

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Devin Mockobee (45) runs for a touchdown against the Syracuse Orange in the first quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse scores late TD to slay Purdue

Garrett Shrader found Oronde Gadsden II for the decisive 25-yard touchdown with seven seconds left, lifting host Syracuse to a wild 32-29 victory over Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell found Payne Durham for a go-ahead touchdown with 51 seconds to go, but the Boilermakers (1-2) committed a 15-yard penalty on the extra point and were assessed another 15-yard penalty when their coach argued with officials, forcing them to kick off from their own 10-yard line.

That gave the ball to the Orange (3-0) at midfield with 45 seconds to play.

The Syracuse offense couldn’t muster much until a pass interference penalty gave them some much-needed momentum. On the next play, Shrader found Gadsden near the left pylon for the winning score.

O’Connell finished 38 of 54 for 415 yards with three touchdowns — two to Durham (nine catches, 83 yards) and one to Charlie Jones (10 catches, 179 yards).

Shrader went 13 of 29 for 181 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. He also led the team with 83 rushing yards. Gadsden totaled 112 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.

Trailing 9-3, the Orange finally got moving midway through the third quarter, as the hosts embarked on a 16-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Shrader’s 3-yard TD pass to Isaiah Jones on third-and-goal with 2:11 remaining in the period.

The Boilermakers responded with O’Connell’s 11-yard TD pass to Durham. That put the visitors ahead 15-10, but the ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful when O’Connell’s pass to a wide-open Charlie Jones hit the crossbar in the back of the end zone.

The Orange went back ahead as Shrader found a wide-open Gadsden for a 46-yard score on a fourth-and-1 play. Shrader scrambled for the two-point conversion, and Syracuse led 18-15 with 8:17 remaining.

The Orange then extended their lead to 25-15 on a 17-yard pick-six by defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu, but the Boilermakers came right back on O’Connell’s 55-yard bomb to Charlie Jones to create a three-point margin with 6:41 to go.

Purdue had a chance to draw even with about three minutes left, but Mitchell Fineran’s 41-yard field goal sliced to the right. However, the Boilermakers went back in front on their next possession, setting up the wild finish.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Surprising Syracuse takes on Purdue’s dynamic duo

After opening the season with back-to-back blowout victories, Syracuse is off to its best start in four years.

The Orange (2-0) hope their momentum continues Saturday afternoon when Purdue (1-1) pays a visit to the newly named JMA Dome.

Syracuse is beginning to resemble the 2018 squad that won its first four games and went on to post a 10-3 record — the only winning record so far in Dino Babers’ six seasons as Orange coach.

The Orange notched a 31-7 victory over Louisville in their season opener and then pounded UConn 48-14.

Garrett Shrader has completed 79.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Eleven different Syracuse players have caught a pass, led by dynamic running back Sean Tucker with 10 catches for 101 yards.

“Shrader does a nice job of picking and choosing his targets,” Babers said. “He’s been extremely accurate this year and his throwing percentages have been extremely high.”

While Shrader has spread the ball around, Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell has continued to show outstanding chemistry with Charlie Jones, who has a national-best 21 catches covering 286 yards and four TDs.

O’Connell and Jones played youth football together and were reunited when Jones transferred in from Iowa. In the 56-0 rout of Indiana State last week, they hooked up nine times for 133 yards and three scores.

“I think those two have proven that they can make big plays,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They are a big part of the offense. Just being consistent all year is going to be the key for them — and staying healthy.”

That said, Brohm wants the Boilermakers’ offense to become more diverse: When 72 percent of a quarterback’s passes are targeted to one receiver, Big Ten defenses will draw up ways to make things increasingly difficult.

“I think in order for us to continue to improve, we’ve got to get more and more guys involved,” Brohm continued, “and make sure that numerous guys can step up and make plays in key situations.”

The teams have only met once previously — in 2004. Purdue won that matchup over visiting Syracuse, 51-0.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA;  Indiana State Sycamores quarterback Gavin Screws (10) is sacked by Purdue Boilermakers defensive end Jack Sullivan (99) during the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Aidan O’Connell (4 TDs) leads Purdue’s rout of Indiana St.

Aidan O’Connell connected with Charlie Jones on three touchdown passes as part of a four-touchdown performance, and host Purdue cruised past Indiana State 56-0 in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday.

O’Connell needed only one half of play to stake Purdue (1-1) to a 35-0 lead, completing 17 of 19 passes for 211 yards. Jones finished his day with nine catches for 133 yards. Safety Cam Allen returned a third-quarter interception 65 yards for touchdown that put Purdue up 49-0.

Dante Hendrix paced Indiana State (1-1) on offense, grabbing five receptions for 90 yards. Sycamores quarterback Gavin Screws completed just 6 of 14 passes for 83 yards, with two interceptions.

Purdue got a short field on its opening possession after Sanoussi Kane forced a fumble that Allen recovered at the Indiana State 30. The Boilermakers took just four plays to cash in on a 4-yard King Doerue touchdown run.

Purdue then put together a six-play, 58-yard scoring drive that covered 2:09 to go up 14-0 on O’Connell’s 7-yard scoring pass to Jones.

The Boilermakers scored again three minutes later on a 43-yard drive, culminating in an O’Connell to Paul Piferi 26-yard pass.

The Sycamores answered with two drives deep into Purdue territory, but both possessions ended in turnovers — the first on downs after a Purdue goal-line stand and the second a Jamari Brown interception.

After that, O’Connell connected with Jones for a 36-yard score to complete a four-play, 61-yard drive with 3:50 to play in the half. He once again found Jones for a 5-yard pass to close out a five-play, 48-yard drive with 46 seconds to go.

Dylan Downing had a 1-yard rushing touchdown and Devin Mockobee added a 14-yard touchdown run to complete the scoring.

Purdue leads the all-time series 6-0.

–Field Level Media