Purdue earns bid to Big Ten title game, shutting door on Iowa’s longshot hopes
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Aidan O’Connell threw two touchdown passes and Devin Mockobee ran for another to help the Purdue Boilermakers clinch their first Big Ten West Division title with a 30-16 victory Saturday at Indiana.
The Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3) face No. 3 Michigan next weekend in Indianapolis with a chance to win their first conference title since 2000. Purdue also won its fourth Old Oaken Bucket in five games and produced its first back-to-back eight-win seasons since 1997-98.
Indiana (4-8, 2-7) lost eight of its last nine — and starting quarterback Dexter Williams II with what appeared to be a serious right leg, non-contact injury late in the first quarter Saturday.
With Williams, the Hoosiers had Purdue’s defense on its heels. Without him, they struggled and the Boilermakers eventually took control behind O’Connell and Mockobee.
O’Connell got things righted with a 15-yard TD pass to Payne Durham for a 10-7 lead. Mockobee fooled Indiana’s defense on third-and-1 on the next series and sprinted 27 yards for a score to make it 17-7. O’Connell’s 60-yard TD pass to Charlie Jones and Cory Trice’s 8-yard interception for a score in the closing minutes sealed it.
It was a stark contrast from the first half when Purdue’s opening drive stalled with a field goal then the offense couldn’t get anything going.
Jaylin Lucas broke free down the left sideline for a 71-yard TD run on Indiana’s second play to make it 7-3. The Hoosiers were in scoring position again when Williams was injured but two plays later Charles Campbell missed a 44-yard field goal and all the Hoosiers could muster was one more field goal until the final play.
Purdue: The Boilermakers weren’t the preseason favorite in the wild, wild West, but they took advantage of a favorable schedule and used critical road wins at Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana to earn a ticket to Indy. They’ll face a much more daunting task next week.
Indiana: What started out with such promise ended with yet another thud. An inconsistent offense put too much stress on a defense that eventually broke down in games. Yes, the Hoosiers won the Old Brass Spittoon last week but they couldn’t play spoiler Saturday.
Williams went down with 46 seconds left in the first quarter as he planted his leg to look downfield. When he turned, he, fell immediately fell to the ground with nobody near him.
Teammates gathered round and some Purdue players took a knee as doctors put an air cast on the leg and strapped Williams to a stretcher. He eventually went to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
The redshirt sophomore from Macon, Georgia, was making his second straight start in place of Connor Bazelak. Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee earlier this year during spring practice.
Purdue: The Boilermakers face Michigan for the first time since September 2017. The Wolverines have won the last four since Purdue produced back-to-back wins in 2008-09.
Indiana: Coach Tom Allen’s first task in another challenging offseason is sorting out the quarterback situation.
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