"I think we went into that game relaxed and that's not really been the case this season," Hope said. "I think we were a lot more loose this past weekend. We just kind of let it all hang out and we had a lot of fun. We had a blast, we really did."
The difference also was as evident at Tuesday's weekly news conference where Hope cracked jokes with reporters, defensive tackle Kawann Short smiled and laughed as he answered questions, and Marve seemed to say whatever was on his mind.
If they keep it up, the Boilermakers just might come up with that big finish that could send them to a second straight bowl game.
"We expected this year to be a lot different," Short said. "But (going to a bowl game) is still big to the team and to make that last effort since that's the last thing we can do."
Hope still isn't sure whether Nord will be calling the plays this week, though his gut-feeling is that Nord likely won't travel to Champaign, Ill. Nobody can ever be certain how Marve's left knee, the one he's torn the ACL in three times, will hold up. And, of course, the Boilermakers still must prove that last week's strong showing at Iowa was the norm — not the aberration.
But Purdue doesn't care about logic or conventional wisdom.
All they want to do is get the job done and salvage something from a sour season.
"I'm really pumped up and excited about it," Marve said. "I would really like to get this team to a bowl game. It's been a long road, and if we can finish strong at the end, it would really mean a lot to me."