Patience is an old friend of Purdue. Before Coach Joe Tiller came to West Lafayette, the Boilermakers soaked in many losing seasons. Ross-Ade Stadium was not the cauldron of excitement it is today, but those loyal fans in attendance showed their support and calmly waited for a notable season to arrive. Since Tiller trotted to town, Purdue has made a bowl game every season. The crowd has gained a restored sense of expectation and explosive cheers welcome the team’s entrance to the field as opposed to the meager guffaws of the past. However, this year, their bowl streak is in jeopardy and that old friend patience has not been welcomed back through the gates of the stadium. Many angry faces filed into Ross-Ade Stadium hoping to realign the train toward victory. Northwestern heads to the state of Indiana coming off a huge upset of Wisconsin. Being mid-October, this game showcased two teams meeting at a crossroads.
Immediately from the initial drive, Northwestern set the tone with a 67-yard touchdown strike. Purdue fans that had been hoping to see a better defensive effort this week slumped into their chairs and slapped on their grouchy faces. The Wildcats continued to pour on the points, while the Boilers continued to crawl out of the starting gate. At intermission, the Wildcats led 28-9 and many Purdue fans opted to leave the stadium punching patience in the face on their way out. Those who left, however, missed an exciting finish.
During the second half, Northwestern’s offense hit the snooze bar and kicked back in the Lazy-Boy. Like the tortoise to the hare, Purdue took advantage of the dozing Wildcats and crept all the way back to take a 29-28 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the contest. Ross-Ade Stadium and those who allowed patience to hang out just a bit longer were rewarded with a revived atmosphere. “Hail Purdue” blasted from the band, which might have awoken Northwestern from their second half hibernation. In a scrambled fashion, quarterback Bret Basanez led his Wildcats down the field. Tailback Tyrell Sutton capped the drive and Northwestern took the lead with just under two minutes to go. Still hanging onto patience and clinging to hope, Purdue fans watched their team attempt to recapture the lead. But, a Wildcat interception nailed the coffin and sent Northwestern home a winner.
So much anguish seeped out of the stadium and patience was given a long set of dirty looks. Coach Tiller began receiving harsh words as Purdue fans began to see their bowl plans dissolving. Wildcat fans that traveled down from Chicago showered “hoorays” down to their team as they walked off the field. Northwestern could now begin blocking off some time for their team in December – a bowl game looked like a reality.