Posted by Adam Jacobi
PURDUE WON. A late rally by No. 23 Illinois wasn't enough to erase a 21-0 deficit, and Purdue came up with a 21-14 upset victory. Caleb TerBush was efficient in victory, completing 16 of 25 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns -- his best passing performance against an FBS opponent so far this season.
WHY PURDUE WON: Although it wouldn't be fair to take anything away from the Purdue defense, the truth is that Illinois blew this game. The offense was mostly flat for three quarters, Ron Zook punted from midfield or Purdue territory three times, backup QB Reilly O'Toole threw an interception deep in Purdue territory, and Illinois blew a scoring opportunity at the end of the half by throwing a lateral and struggling for yardage as the clock ran down to one second left, then spiking the ball after the clock hit 0:00 on the next snap. That's plain poor game management, and it's enough to lose a game.
WHEN PURDUE WON: After Nathan Scheelhaase took a QB keeper in from two yards out, Illinois needed a great onside kick to keep its hopes alive. Kicker Derek Dimke's effort was fine; the ball took a high bounce and got 10 yards on the correct angle. It's just that nobody for Illinois thought to look for the ball. Justin Siller corraled the kick with nobody near him and could have taken off with it, but he was content to hit the ground and preserve possession. With only one timeout left, Illinois couldn't get the ball back from Purdue, and that was that.
WHAT PURDUE WON: This was a huge win for a Purdue team that finds itself on the edge of bowl contention this year. With the victory, Purdue finds itself at 4-3 with five games left -- four of which come against teams that were 2010 bowl teams (and are likely 2011 bowl teams). Moreover, the win over a Top 25 team is going to be huge for program morale at a time when the Boilermakers could use it the most.
WHAT ILLINOIS LOST: Not only are Illinois' hopes at a division championship basically out the window, but so is the team's spot in the Top 25 -- and so is its confidence. Whatever mojo Scheelhaase had at the beginning of the year is basically gone; even though he led the team to two late touchdown drives, those drives took up so much time that Illinois just didn't have enough time to have a chance to complete the comeback.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Everything about Illinois' offensive performance was crazy -- and not the good, fun kind. It takes an unusual coach to be at 6-2 in the Big Ten and still on the hot seat, but it appears Ron Zook might be on the verge of accepting that challenge.