With no Wisconsin games on the schedule, a trip to Purdue was scheduled to ameliorate the symptoms of withdrawal. On this Halloween day, parking was not terribly difficult to find, but my father insisted on using our grandmother’s handicapped parking permit to be closer to Ross-Ade Stadium. However, the handicap lot was quite a distance from the venue and we learned that disabled individuals received a golf cart ride up to the stadium. We all got a laugh as dad, featuring a Wisconsin hat, hopped aboard the S.S. Cripple and buzzed up the hill toward the game.
Conversely, I tried to fit in more wearing black and gold and a sticker that read, “Hammer the Hawkeyes!” Anyhow, parking farther away did afford us the opportunity to take in the flavor of Purdue’s campus and pre-game traditions. Walking toward the stadium, we ran into a parade led by the “World’s Largest Drum” and the Boilermaker Express. Purdue’s band and color guard were in the mix as well as we really gained a sense of the excitement in West Lafayette.
The Boilermakers were the clear favorite on this day led by record shredding quarterback Drew Brees. Iowa was struggling, but wanted to send their legendary head coach Hayden Frye off with as many victories as possible in his final season with the Hawkeyes. Both teams needed to win to maintain bowl hopes.
Right from the opening canon, it was evident that Purdue was hungrier for a post-season berth. Drew Brees did everything on that field except mow it. He tore up the Hawkeyes and gave them plenty of horror for Halloween. The final read 36-14 in favor of Purdue. Iowa had brought its band, but the fight song was seldom played until the tail end of the contest when Iowa managed a couple “too little too late” touchdowns. With new head coach Joe Tiller turning things around in West Lafayette, I could sense the energy level rising. Purdue houses a very Big Ten-esque atmosphere that is rough, loud, and intimidating.