“Drew Brees texted me last night and said: ‘Hey, go out there and shock the world, have fun. I’ll be watching.’”
Elliott did as he was told and led Purdue to its biggest upset in years. He threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, and the Boilermakers stunned No. 7 Ohio State 26-18 on Saturday.
It was another ugly day for the Buckeyes’ offense. But unlike last week when the defense and special teams provided enough points for Ohio State (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to beat Wisconsin, the struggles of quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Co. were too much for the Buckeyes to overcome.
“Yeah, it hurts,” said Pryor, who threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. “Right now, we’ve just got to be worried about the Big Ten because the national championship is gone.”
The Buckeyes have won at least a share of the last four Big Ten crowns and played in four consecutive BCS games. If they don’t get their offense in order soon, those streaks could come to an end this season.
The Buckeyes lost to an unranked team for the first time since Illinois beat them in Columbus in 2007. But that Illinois team went on to play in the Rose Bowl. This Purdue team had lost five straight coming in and will have to scramble to become bowl eligible.
“They did the things you need to do to win a good Big Ten ballgame,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “Obviously, we were disappointed. We felt we could play better than we did, but the true test of a team is how you handle difficult situations.”
The Boilermakers had some painful losses during their skid, including 38-36 at Oregon and 24-21 to Notre Dame on a last-minute touchdown.
Finally, the Boilermakers (2-5, 1-2) were able close the deal for first-year coach Danny Hope.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan said. “I’m speechless. There’s no words to describe how good this feels. It’s a new season now.”
Just as Purdue fans started giving up on the team, as evidenced by half the crowd being dressed in Ohio State red, the Boilermakers pulled off their first win over a ranked team since 2003 and its first victory over the Buckeyes since 2004. The Boilermakers hadn’t beaten a ranked Ohio State squad since Brees led them past the Buckeyes in 2000.
“Not too many people were cheering for us,” Elliott said. “It was a huge win for the Purdue family.”
Those loyal students who showed up rushed the field to join the players’ postgame celebration. Some chanted Elliott’s name.
Ohio State failed to tie the Big Ten record of 17 straight conference road wins and fell behind Iowa in the conference standings.
Purdue dominated the first three quarters, then held on as Ohio State tried to mount a comeback behind Pryor.
Pryor passed for 221 yards, but was held to 34 yards on 21 carries. He said the Buckeyes didn’t respect the Boilermakers, despite the compliments Ohio State’s coaching staff paid Purdue throughout the week.
“I don’t think we had as much intensity as we do going into any other game,” Pryor said. “Not really belittling them, but thinking we were going to walk over them. Every week, you have to fear the underdog, and the underdog took care of us today. There’s nothing else I can really say.”
The Boilermakers ripped what statistically had been one of the nation’s best defensive teams. Purdue gained 361 yards and controlled the ball for 36 minutes.
Keith Smith caught 12 passes for 125 yards, his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards. Aaron Valentin added 10 catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers.
Carson Wiggs made four field goals for Purdue, including a 55-yarder at the end of the first half and a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Purdue led 26-10 in the fourth quarter before Pryor got the Buckeyes back into the game. He avoided the rush, then heaved a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeVier Posey with 7:14 to play. Pryor ran in the 2-point conversion to cut Purdue’s lead to 26-18.
Ohio State got the ball back and moved into Purdue territory. Kerrigan sacked Pryor on a third-and-5, setting up a fourth-and-14 from the Purdue 38. Pryor’s inaccurate deep pass was batted away by David Pender, and Purdue took over.
The Boilermakers appeared to be stopped when a screen pass on 3rd and-9 went nowhere, but one more mistake ended the Buckeyes chances. Doug Worthington was flagged for a facemask and the personal foul gave Purdue a first down and the Boilermakers could kneel out the clock.
Hope refused to make too big a deal of his first major victory.
“I’ve been real proud of our football team all season,” he said. “We’ve been a football team that’s gone out there every Saturday thinking we can win, swinging hard, playing hard. We’ve made some mistakes in the past, and it’s hurt us, but we stuck together and kept believing we could do it.”
Purdue 26, Ohio State 18
Ohio St. 7 0 0 11 — 18
Purdue 3 6 14 3 — 26
Pur—FG Wiggs 32, 12:47.
OSU—Pryor 6 run (Pettrey kick), 11:28.
Pur—FG Wiggs 27, 8:55.
Pur—FG Wiggs 55, :00.
Pur—Valentin 15 pass from Elliott (Wiggs kick), 10:58.
Pur—Valentin 23 pass from Elliott (Wiggs kick), 3:35.
OSU—FG Pettrey 24, 11:50.
Pur—FG Wiggs 49, 10:00.
OSU—Posey 25 pass from Pryor (Pryor run), 7:14.
First downs 12 24
Rushes-yards 28-66 31-80
Passing 221 281
Comp-Att-Int 17-31-2 31-52-2
Return Yards 19 28
Punts-Avg. 6-39.7 5-33.2
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-65 1-5
Time of Possession 23:52 36:08
RUSHING—Ohio St., Pryor 21-34, Saine 7-32. Purdue, Bolden 17-43,
Elliott 8-31, Halliburton 3-12, Team 3-(minus 6).
PASSING—Ohio St., Pryor 17-31-2-221. Purdue, Elliott 31-50-1-281,
Dierking 0-1-1-0, K.Smith 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Ohio St., Posey 9-87, Small 5-59, Saine 1-40,
Carter 1-24, Ballard 1-11. Purdue, K.Smith 12-125, Valentin 10-97,
Carlos 2-17, Bolden 2-8, Halliburton 2-4, Gravesande 1-11, Lindsay 1-11, K.Adams 1-8.