BLOOMINGTON – Indiana University is a basketball school, there is no arguing that. But on Saturday night in Memorial Stadium, Hoosier eyes were focused on scoring a “bucket” that is slightly different from the ones exchanged in Assembly Hall.
Indiana reclaimed the Old Oaken Bucket from its bitter rival, Purdue, in record-setting fashion with a 56-36 victory over the Boilermakers.
With both teams out of bowl contention, the annual match up did not feature anything at stake for either school except bragging rights. Indiana, traditionally the whipping boy to Purdue throughout the two rival’s 119 year history, flipped rolls on Saturday with a high-octane offensive attack that is quickly becoming a staple in Bloomington.
Indiana needed just four plays to score on the game’s opening drive as Stephen Houston went 53 yards to the end zone on a third down play to give Indiana a 7-0 lead. The Hoosier senior made the most of his final college game rushing 17 times for 120 yards and two scores in what he called his “bowl game.”
“”I was going to leave it all out there on the field because it was my last game,” said Houston. “It was my bowl game and my national championship game. I was going to give everything I had and be exhausted at the end since this was my last game in an Indiana uniform.”
Houston was not the only Hoosier to have a big day as the other two headliners for Indiana provided the second score of the day. Hoosier quarterback Tre Roberson connected with Shane Wynn for a two-yard score. Roberson and Wynn would prove to be a regular nuisances for Purdue on Saturday.
Wynn had seven receptions for 52 yards and three touchdowns while Roberson was a physical force for the Hoosiers, racking up 427 all-purpose yards and threw six touchdown passes, which tied the school record.
Purdue closed the gap, briefly, following a one-yard pass from Danny Etling to Justin Sinz. Indiana blocked the extra-point attempt to make the score 14-6.
The Hoosiers kept on scoring and would end the first half with a 35-9 lead. First-year Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell knew his team fought hard but just dug itself into too big of a hole in the first half.
“We couldn’t get off the field,” said Hazell. “Anytime you are scoring as much as they were offensively, it puts a lot of pressure on offense to go out and have to respond and answer those scores.
“We had a chance to make a few plays when the ball was in the air and we didn’t make those plays, which was disappointing. I thought at the end of the game, our team continued to fight. They never gave up. But you need to make those plays in order to be in the football game. We got ourselves in a big hole at halftime and we weren’t able to fight back.”
Purdue outscored the Hoosiers 27-21 in the second half but it was simply not enough to take the Bucket back to West Lafayette.
Etling has been a sign of hope for the Boilermakers in an otherwise dismal season and he continued that thought on Saturday. The true freshman quarterback tossed for 485 yards and four scores.
Hazell had some kind words for the young man that should be the face of Purdue football for the next three years, “I think you’re seeing a guy who is going to be a spectacular player. I really believe that.”
The Hoosiers set a number of individual and school records in Saturday’s game including having three players rush for 100 or more yards for the first time in school history. Indiana tallied 401 rushing yards as a team. Indiana’s 56 points were the most scored by an Indiana squad in an Old Oaken Bucket game. Obviously Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson was happy about his team’s performance.
“”That was a pretty solid win,” started the third-year Hoosier head coach. “I’m really proud of this team, the seniors, and the captains we voted on this week. We didn’t make a big deal about this week being senior week, about last week, or about us not being a bowl team. But as we always say, we want to get one day better, we made a big deal about this being our best week.
“Our emphasis was for this week to have our best preparation, our best meetings, and to go out there and play our best. There was a little bit of ugliness here and there, but for the most part it was a good win. I’m happy to get The Bucket for the seniors and for the team.”
The Hoosiers finish the season 3-5 in the Big Ten Conference and 5-7 overall. Purdue finishes 0-7 in conference and 1-11 overall. Due to a scheduling quirk, these long-time rivals will again meet in Bloomington in 2014.