Mix together typical American homes with welcoming folks, well-appointed lawns, tree lined streets, a dash of cornfield and a sprinkle of charm and you have West Lafayette, Indiana. Ross-Ade Stadium lies in this town as a landmark at Purdue. It falls in line beautifully with the red-bricked architecture that is contagious throughout campus. Visitors get a sense of West Lafayette’s midwestern appeal as soon as they begin their search for parking because many of the locals happily open their lawns to cars from out-of-town areas.
Supporting Purdue football has been a frustrating endeavor. Fan interest is waning, optimism is fleeting, and the stadium is becoming bereft of spirit – there just isn’t enough coal in the boiler.
Purdue or Purdont? Well, it’s quite simple. The Boilers Pur”did” in the first half and Pur”didn’t” in the second. The Badgers came into West Lafayette carrying all the pressure. With Wisconsin ranked 9th nationally and still holding a great hand to collect the Rose Bowl bid, the nerves may have caused this team to come out flat in the first half.
The Boilers were out in full force this weekend. Duck fans from Oregon made a nice percentage of the day’s attendance. They came blowing their duck kazoo noisemakers and wearing shirts like, “Hooked on Quack.” The sounds of “Boiler Up” hovered in the air drowning out the kazoos. This was setting up to be an outstanding collision between the Big 10 and Pac 10.
Boilermaker Spirit Weekend at Purdue is saturated with activities culminating with the conference clash on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium. The festivities were cut short this year thanks to the Badger defense that held Purdue to its lowest offensive output at home in thirteen years. The weather reached perfection and West Lafayette offers a classic Midwest venue that can please even the most sensitive of college football critics. The only missing link this weekend fell on the shoulders of the Purdue offense that couldn’t move a feather with an industrial fan much less a football.
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.
Heisman Trophy Showdown ’99 took place in West Lafayette, Indiana. From Wisconsin was Ron Dayne who needed only 321 yards to become the nation’s all time leading rusher surpassing the mark set by Ricky Williams who won the coveted prize last season. From Purdue came Drew Brees who electrifies audiences with a consistent arm and fantastic mobility. They meet at Ross-Ade Stadium in an integral matchup in the Big Ten.
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.