WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Aidan O’Connell tied a career high with four touchdown passes and Zander Horvath ran for another score Saturday as Purdue won the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2018 with a 44-7 victory over Indiana.
The Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) have won four of five to post their highest single-season victory total since 2006. It was the most lopsided game in the series since 2008 when Purdue won 62-10 in the late Joe Tiller’s final regular-season game as coach.
Indiana (2-10, 0-9) lost its last eight games, finishing its first winless season in league play since 2011.
But the annual in-state battle, which was canceled twice last season because of COVID-19, certainly carried some of the traditional rivalry themes. There were big plays, hard hits, loud chants and plenty of penalties on a rainy, windy afternoon that eventually gave way to clearing skies as night fell over cold, sold out Ross-Ade Stadium.
Purdue took control with a quick start. Horvath capped the opening possession with a 1-yard scoring plunge that was originally ruled a fumble and recovered by the Boilermakers in the end zone.
Indiana tied the score on a 2-yard run from Donaven McCulley and then Purdue started pulling away. O’Connell’s 24-yard TD pass to Paul Piferi broke the tie early in the second quarter and Mitchell Finneran’s 32-yard field gave Purdue a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Boilermakers sealed it early in the second half when O’Connell threw TD passes on each of the first two drives — 21 yards to Jackson Anthrop and 5 yards to T.J. Sheffield — to make it 31-7 midway through the third. O’Connell threw a 20-yard pass to David Bell before departing early in the fourth.
O’Connell was 26 of 31 with 278 yards. Bell had six catches for 79 yards in what could be his final home game.
Indiana: After posting their best season in more than a half century, the Hoosiers opened this season with so much promise. A brutal schedule, a rash of injuries and some bad luck ruined everything. Indiana heads into the offseason with some extra weeks to figure out solutions for 2022.
Purdue: The Boilermakers made it look easy again Saturday — completing a surprise turnaround behind quarterback O’Connell and a rebuilt defense. Eight wins should be enough to get Purdue into a respectable bowl, it’s first postseason trip in three years and they’ll soon find out who and where they’ll play next.
Indiana: Grant Gremel became the fourth starting quarterback for the Hoosiers this season and finished 18 of 30 with 147 yards and an interception. … Ty Fryfogle finished the season with two receptions for 19 yards. He was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year in 2020. … The Hoosiers rushed 32 times for 58 yards. … Indiana scored 11 touchdowns in nine conference games.
Purdue: O’Connell became the school’s first player to throw 20 TD passes in a season since David Blough in 2018. He now has 23. … The six conference wins are the Boilermakers most since 2003. … Purdue broke the school’s single-season team record for completions (381). The previous mark was 377 set in 1998 with Drew Brees.
Indiana: Must decide what changes will be needed to get the program back on track in 2022.
Purdue: Will find out its postseason fate next weekend.