End of losing streak may help Purdue turn tide

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 3:02 am •  Published: November 14, 2012
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — One win has kept hope alive at Purdue.

Two more and the Boilermakers could go down as the nation's most improbable bowl-eligible team, with a roster of players and coaches who have routinely defied the odds.

"We're in a playoff situation," said sixth-year quarterback Robert Marve, who is playing with a torn ACL in his left knee. "It just kind of hit me today, we can't lose a game right now."

Actually, under new NCAA rules, if there aren't enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the slots, the Boilermakers could still make it in at 5-7. But why try for the long shot when Purdue can still take care of things itself?

The Boilermakers understand what they're up against.

A year ago, they needed to win two of their last three regular-season games to snap a three-year bowl drought. They did.

Now if they can win these next two and finish the regular season on a three-game winning streak, they would likely make it back despite all of the things that went wrong this season — a five-game losing streak that left Purdue out of the Big Ten title chase, four blowouts that had many pondering whether this team had quit on the season, rotating quarterbacks that may have contributed to a lack of continuity, and, of course, the persistent speculation about coach Danny Hope's future in West Lafayette.

Saturday's 27-24 victory at Iowa not only gave Purdue (4-6, 1-5) respite, but a whole new perspective on this season.

Suddenly, the Boilermakers are talking about winning at Illinois (2-8, 0-6) this weekend and again when rival Indiana (4-6, 2-5) visits Ross-Ade Stadium the following weekend in the annual Old Oaken Bucket game.

"A bowl game is a big deal to us," Marve said Tuesday. "This team feels like that's a successful season. No, it's not the season we wanted, but it would be one that Boilermakers Nation could look back at and say we bounced back."

Judging from what Hope saw last weekend and through the early part of this week, this looks like a rejuvenated team.

Marve, who replaced Caleb TerBush in the starting lineup the previous week, threw for 266 yards and two scores. The Boilermakers topped 200 yards rushing for the first time since September and only the second time all season. A healthier defensive front held Iowa to just 2.4 yards rushing per carry, and Paul Griggs ended the losing streak with a 46-yard field goal as time expired.



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