Indiana’s Tre Roberson threw for six touchdowns, three to wide receiver Shane Wynn, and the Hoosiers rolled up nearly 700-yards of offense to hold off a second-half Purdue rally and beat the Boilermakers 56-36 in the annual Old Oaken Bucket game before a partisan Indiana crowd of 44,882 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Saturday. The 56 points were the most Indiana has scored in the rivalry contest which dates back to 1925.
With the victory, the Hoosiers posted a modest increase in wins over 2012, going 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten. Purdue dropped to 1-11 overall and went winless in the conference in first-year head coach Darrell Hazell’s first season.
Roberson, who learned in the morning he would be starting after shuttling back and forth with fellow QB Nate Sudfeld throughout the year, showed glimpses of his pre-injury (2012) form, rushing for 155-yards on 21 carries as IU exploited the soft underbelly of the Boilermakers defense with their read option attack. Roberson also displayed his versatility with his arm, connecting on 25-of-37 passes for 273-yards and the six scores. He was picked off twice, both by Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen.
IU head coach Kevin Wilson was appreciative of his 21 seniors. “That was a pretty solid win. We talked about senior week and playing our best ball. This was a game they’ll always remember but have only one chance to play. There was a lot of good ball but some things we need to clean up and get better. Overall, I think we have a solid foundation.”
On a balmy late fall day in Bloomington with the temperatures hovering in the low 50’s, Indiana jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead on its first two possessions and led 35-9 at the half. However, the Hoosiers would have to weather the onslaught of a 27-point second half led by Purdue QB Danny Etling. Etling completed for 33-of-49 passes for 485-yards and four touchdowns. He continually torched the IU secondary for huge gainers as the Purdue receivers slipped behind coverage. The Boilers Hazell is looking for big things from his young signal caller. “I think you’re seeing a guy who is going to be a spectacular player.”
Meanwhile, the Bucket is back in Bloomington after a two-year hiatus. Hoosiers kicker Mitch Ewald, who booted the game-winner in IU’s overtime victory at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2010, says this year’s game was even sweeter. “We (seniors Greg Heban, Ted Bolser, and Kofi Hughes) were just in the locker room, and the words “it’s the best moment of my life” came out. To beat these guys in our last game as a senior class, it’s unbelievable. It’s a memory we’ll never forget.”
Among the nation’s scoring and total offense leaders, the Hoosiers got contributions from many on their record-setting day.
Besides Roberson, senior RB Stephen Houston rushed for 120-yards, including a 53-yarder down the near sideline to begin the scoring fest, and backup DeAngelo Roberts added 113-yards. The diminutive Wynn, a 5-7 dynamo, caught seven balls for 52-yards and was on the receiving end of three short touchdown throws. Fellow wideouts Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer displayed their playmaking skills as well. Hughes ended his IU career with three catches for 54-yards, including a spectacular 30-yard grab down the near sideline where he managed to keep one foot in bounds. Latimer, who may have played his last game as well with his NFL Draft stock increasing, was his consistent self, catching seven balls for 110-yards and a score. Senior TE Ted Bolser became the Hoosiers all-time leader in catches at the position and added a touchdown as well to his career resume.
While there’s plenty to feel good about though, the Hoosiers are still kicking themselves for squandering a post-season bowl berth. With a loaded schedule of eight home games, IU’s season should be continuing, not ending. The Hoosiers faulty defense shoulders much of the blame, and while Wilson deflected the questions about possible defensive coaching changes in the post-game press conference, it’s clear that moves need to be made in order for the Hoosiers to continue making strides.
Extra Points: Indiana eclipsed the school record for points in a season….Junior QB Cam Coffman saw his first action of the season with four minutes left in the third quarter. He played one series….Hoosiers OT Ralston Evans was forced to leave the game due to an ankle injury. He left Memorial Stadium on crutches with a heavy wrap around his foot….Purdue junior Safety Landon Feichter was penalized for targeting and ejected from the game in the third quarter….The Old Oaken Bucket series now stands at 58 (Purdue), 28 (IU) with two ties.