- Eastern Michigan lost its first 38 games against Big Ten opponents. Now it can't lose.
Don’t look now, but Eastern Michigan is on a bit of a hot streak against the Big Ten. After going 0–38—yes, that’s 38 straight losses—against the conference, the Eagles have now won two straight.
On Sept. 9 of last year, the victim was Rutgers, giving EMU its first victory over a Power 5 program in 59 games by a score of 16–13. On Saturday, the Eagles did it again, beating Purdue 20–19 on a last-second 25-yard field goal by freshman Chad Ryland.
Someone needs to tell Illinois to watch out, because the Eagles are heading to Champaign next season. Then the Big Ten gets a break before EMU plays Wisconsin in 2021.
Eastern Michigan had Purdue on its heels all day at rainy Ross-Ade Stadium, and the Boilermakers did themselves no favors. After the Eagles took the lead midway through the fourth quarter, D.J. Knox put Purdue back in front with 6:41 remaining on a D.J. Knox 45-yard touchdown. Protecting an 18–17 lead, coach Jeff Brohm wanted to go for two to end EMU’s chance at an upset, but Knox was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he slid in the back of the end zone while celebrating his score, and with the yardage tacked onto their conversion attempt, Purdue settled for an extra point instead. After the game, Knox told reporters that he had slipped at the end of his run.
Eagles quarterback Tyler Wiegers threw an interception on EMU’s ensuing possession, but the Boilermakers blew their next chance to extend their lead when Spencer Evans missed a 38-yard field goal with 4:51 left. Down two, Eastern Michigan had more than enough time to come back.
The game-winning drive was extended by a Purdue personal foul for a late hit that spoiled a third-down sack—eerily similar to the needless personal foul on Lorenzo Neal that iced Purdue’s season-opening loss to Northwestern—and by a conversion on fourth-and-15, in which Wiegers found Arthur Jackson III for 23 yards to the Purdue 30. The Eagles closed in fast once they entered field goal range, with running back Ian Erikson getting a push from his entire line on a 10-yard rush that got EMU to the five and into position for Ryland’s chip shot field goal.
Things aren’t off to a great start in West Lafayette in Brohm’s second year. Purdue now finds itself in an 0–2 hole, with Missouri coming to town next. Meanwhile, EMU is 2–0 to begin 2018, and perhaps more notably, 2–0 against the Big Ten over the past 365 days.