WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — For the first time since 2018, the Old Oaken Bucket belongs to the Boilermakers. Fifth-year senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for four touchdown passes as Purdue football routed rival Indiana 44-7 on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3 in the Big Ten) won four of their last five games to reach its highest victory total in the regular season since 2006.
“I thought we won in pretty convincing fashion,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “We challenged our guys to come out and win the second half and play better, because I thought we were a little sloppy on some things in the first half, and we did. Really proud of our guys for the effort they gave us all year.”
Before the game, several players were recognized as the team celebrated its senior night. Juniors David Bell and George Karlaftis also took part in the festivities. The program’s star players may have played in the final home game of their college careers.
“It kind of didn't feel real at first,” redshirt fifth-year senior wide receiver Jackson Anthrop said. “Getting to go out there and play with the guys that I've gotten the pleasure of playing with these last few years and these seniors, it's very special. And to do that with these coaches and with the amazing fans that Purdue has, it's a night that I'll never forget. That's for sure.”
Fifth-year senior running back Zander Horvath opened the scoring for Purdue on its first drive, reaching the end zone on a one-yard plunge to cap off a 13-play, 75-yard drive.
Indiana (2-10, 0-9), with redshirt sophomore walk-on Grant Gremel at quarterback, responded with a touchdown of its own to tie the game. with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter. The Hoosiers failed to score the rest of the game as the Boilermakers held them to 205 total yards.
O’Connell threw his first touchdown of the game in the second quarter, completing a 24-yard strike on the left sideline to sophomore tight end Paul Piferi. Kicker Mitchell Fineran made a 32-yard field goal to give Purdue a 17-7 lead before halftime.
Despite the lead, the Boilermakers were called for numerous penalties in the first half, but only one was enforced.
“I just thought we could have played much better, more disciplined, with more focus on the small things,” Brohm said. “And I think when we cleaned that up, it made us much more efficient.”
Purdue ran away with the game in the second half, scoring touchdowns on its first four drives. O’Connell, who threw three touchdowns in the final two quarters, finished the game 26 of 31 for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Bell led the team with six catches, 79 receiving yards and a touchdown. Anthrop and sophomore T.J. Sheffield also found the end zone on passes from O’Connell.
The Boilermakers also recorded 167 total yards on the ground. Horvath and junior running back King Doerue both recorded 49 yards rushing. Redshirt freshman running back Dylan Downing scored the first touchdown of his career on a 33-yard carry in the fourth quarter.
Now, Purdue will look ahead to a well-deserved break as it awaits its bowl destination to end the 2021 college football season. The program’s last bowl victory came in 2017, a 38-35 win over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
“It'll be nice to get a few days off and just kind of reflect on what's been a crazy season,” O’Connell said. “When you're in a season, you kind of feel like you've been going nonstop for three, four or five months, so it's definitely going to be good to get a little break. But when we come back, we're gonna be excited to play whoever we get to play.”