The parking lots in the shadow of Ross-Ade Stadium are still filling with Purdue's night clash against Ohio State still some six hours away. With the sun beating down during an unusually hot October day in Indiana, shade is the hot commodity in West Lafayette.
To make matters worse, the game is being billed as the "Boilermaker Blackout" with fans instructed to wear black - not the best combination when mixed with sun, 90-degree weather and brews.
The Brick Boilermaker golf course makes for a picturesque tailgate setting and with the leaves in the midst of changing colors, it makes for an image that's the definition of a Big Ten Saturday.Grade: A
Boilermakers fans are all-too-willing to extol you on the greatness of Drew Brees, but their knowledge extends beyond the Big Ten. I overheard a pair of Purdue fans going on and on about how overrated USC quarterback John David Booty is, while a father and I discussed what his high school son is most looking forward to in that day's recruiting trip -- his hostess.
The only problem was that fans seemed all too oblivious to notice just how poorly the Boilermakers defense had been playing up to that point and a schedule that included wins over a I-AA, two MAC teams, Minnesota, which has the nation's worst passing defense, and a down-and-out Notre Dame.Grade: C
Cornhole anyone? The bean bag toss game is all the rage. I also spotted a game or two of ladderball (and Guitar Hero, which isn't exactly meet the definition of a "yard game") but with a variety of store-bought, homemade and plastic sets, cornhole is undoubtedly the crème de la crème of tailgate entertainment in West Lafayette. I'd knock the Purdue (and Ohio State faithful) for a lack of creativity, but come on, how do you knock cornhole?Grade: B
It's like the Beach Boys, and later Van Halen, said: "The Midwest farmers' daughters really make you feel alright." Clad in T-shirts and babydoll jerseys, the women of Purdue aren't afraid to show their colors. There was some quality views, but the "Blackout" theme and the vast number of co-eds who were wearing black, made it feel like a Marilyn Manson show.Grade: C
Boilermaker fan Joel Stiller's setup featured a gold truck emblazoned with the Boilermaker Special and a back section that featured a television. In his third season with the roving tribute, he showed he also knows how to set up a spread, serving 80-100 people a week. It lost a little of that neighborhood feel though, with a number of signs that said "Private Party," which kind of defeats the whole purpose of what a tailgate really is. I'm also giving an honorable mention to "Tiller's Tiki Hut," which indeed looked like a tiki hut and was serving tropical drinks.Grade: B
Barbeque pork, wings, pizza, nachos, hot dogs and hamburgers are the typical fare, but grilled food was few and far between, because as Stillerof Lafayette, Ind., said "we would have grilled out if it wasn't so darn hot." Point taken, but what's a tailgate without a grill? It's like a football team without a defense ... oh, wait, this is Purdue, where the D's have ranked 70th, 114th and 100th nationally the last three seasons right?Grade: C
Beer is the beverage of choice on the menu, though mixed drinks were sprinkled throughout. With the smoldering heat and the long wait before the game, fans were smart enough to follow the brew with a water chaser. It's doesn't make for the most raucous atmosphere, but at least Boilermaker faithful is smart enough to hydrate. The one real issue was I didn't actually see anyone having a boilermaker (whiskey with a beer chaser). What's that about?Grade: C
I have to admit, when the first thing you hear when approaching a tailgate scene is Pink, it's a little alarming, but the Boilermakers crowd did rebound as I heard Hail Purdue a time or two. Cheers were largely missing from the Purdue crowd, though I did hear a few "O-Hs" and some "I-Os" from the Buckeyes who made the trip.Grade: C
Again, the Purdue fans weren't the ones making the biggest impression, though I did enjoy a couple of T-shirts: one of which said "Tailgate Like A Champion Today" and another that said "OS-Who?" But the title was taken by a 40-something Ohio State female fan who was wearing a scarlet Eddie George jersey and had her hair dyed red and her face painted half scarlet and half gray.Grade: B
I'm unsure if the hometown of Purdue has a nickname, but if not, I'm throwing "Land of A Thousand Port-A-Johns" out there. During a short walk from the media parking area to the stadium, I counted at least 20 of them. Give West Lafayette credit for not putting a strain on the ol' bladder. Purdue also gets high marks for a Boilermaker Special replica that fans can ride around in for pregame tours.Grade: A-