Those Were The Days - Purdue
We'll switch up the order this week. Those Were The Days first, then Craig Has The Scout. With a likely Robert Rants About The Fact That We Cannot Keep From Shooting Our Program In The Foot somewhere in between. First, though, Detlef takes us back to the Purdue game in 1991. One note: please do not take Detlef up on his offer.
Illinois hosts Purdue on Saturday. I will give $100 to any fan who storms Zuppke Field and punches Purdue Pete in the groin. Further, if Purdue brings its band I will give $200 to any fan who punctures that annoying big drum. Today's game recalls a Fighting Illini win that clinched the magic words all Fighting Illini football fans long to hear: BOWL ELIGIBLE.
November 9, 1991: Illinois entered the game needing a win to secure a bowl berth, preferably in a warm climate. Alas, the temperature never rose above 40 degrees in a cold, half-empty Ross-Ade Stadium. Thankfully there was no wind and the sun was shining. "That was like Florida weather for us," said Head Coach John Mackovic.
Illinois started fast by enjoying a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Jason Verduzco caught Purdue in a blitz and threw a 61-yard bomb to Elbert Turner. Turner finished with seven catches for 127 yards. "I gave (the defender) one fake and ran past him," said Turner. Verduzco also threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Clinton Lynch. Verduzco finished 20 of 25 passing for 255 yards and three touchdowns. "That's as sharp as he's been all year," said Mackovic.
Illinois whipped Purdue on both sides of the football and even unveiled a new formation. On the goal line, Illinois lined up in a Stack I formation with tight end Ken Dilger directly behind the quarterback. Both of Darren Boyer's touchdowns came from that formation. Boyer ran 17 times for 74 yards. Also, tight end Kraig Koester caught a three-yard touchdown pass on his first-ever reception!
Jeff Kinney replaced Verduzco and threw a touchdown pass to John Wright Jr. for a 41-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Sadly, Purdue scored on the Illinois defense for the first time in four years with six minutes left in the contest. Purdue scored again for a final margin of 41-14. "That disappointed us," said linebacker Aaron Shelby who also had an interception. "We knew we had shut them out the last three years, and one of our goals was to make it four." Take a moment to pity poor Purdue quarterback Eric Pike. The defense sacked him seven times by seven different players! BOGGLE! "I think he was locked in looking downfield," said defensive tackle Jon Gustafsson. "He wasn't aware of what was happening around him."
Head Coach John Mackovic left Illinois after the regular season for Texas. That turned out to be a bad decision. Further, Mackovic was also the Illinois athletic director so Chancellor Morton Weir made the even worse decision to promote defensive coordinator Lou Tepper to Head Coach. Illinois finished 6-6 after losing to UCLA in the frigid John Hancock Bowl. THOSE WERE NOT THE DAYS!
Sources: "Illini Attack Heats Up And Scorches Purdue"; by Robert Markus. Chicago Tribune: November 10, 1991.