Purdue Fails in Music City Bowl
Purdue’s rollercoaster season came to abrupt halt Friday against the highly-talented Auburn Tigers. For the Boilermakers, the Music City Bowl matchup was to be a great challenge to see how they matched up against one of the SEC’s premier teams. Consider that challenge a complete failure. Purdue proved that they were ultimately overmatched against the great speed of Auburn. The Boilermaker defense came into the game already at a disadvantage having 3 defensive starters out for the game, including their best run-stopper, Lorenzo Neal, out with a torn ACL, and cornerback Kenneth Major out with a surprise unknown injury suffered in practice. That disadvantage quickly escalated when starting safety Brennan Thieneman went down with broken fibula and tibia in the first quarter. As a result, Auburn’s offense was able to completely do what they wanted, both in the run and passing game. Auburn quarterback, Jarrett Stidham quickly attacked cornerback Tim Cason with the deep ball, and speedster wide receiver, Darius Slayton, was the benefactor of that attack, catching three passes for a total of 160 yards, all for touchdowns.
The Purdue defense simply could not keep up with Auburn’s speed and achieved the embarrassing all-time NCAA bowl record for most points surrendered in one half, 56 points. If it wasn’t for the mercy of head coach, Gus Malzahn, Auburn would have easily shattered the record for most points scored in a bowl game, 70. Malzahn inserted both the second and third string quarterbacks in the second half, and twice chose to not score when deep in the red zone, including a trip to the 1-inch line at the end of the game.The end result was still an embarrassing final score of 63-14, showing that despite the tremendous strides of the Purdue football program, they still have an incredibly long way to go if they hope to compete with a top SEC team.
In the end, despite the brutal outcome, Purdue’s program still benefitted by gaining valuable bowl experience and getting the painful reminder of how much work they still need to do, especially in the area of consistency. By beating three ranked teams this year, including #2 Ohio State, Purdue showed that they are capable of competing with the NCAA’s best. However, with the embarrassing loss to Eastern Michigan, a blowout loss to Minnesota, and Friday’s bowl game debacle, the Boilermakers have shown they are nowhere near the point they want to me. This should provide a springboard for the 2019 season, and with one of the strongest recruiting classes in Purdue history coming in next year, Purdue will hopefully take the next step in the upcoming season.