Defense and emotion carried Purdue to its first victory over Michigan in 12 years and maybe coach Jim Colletto’s biggest victory ever.
The Boilermakers (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten) forced five turnovers and beat the No. 9 Wolverines 9-3 on Saturday in the first game since Colletto announced his resignation.
“It was not a fluke,” said Colletto, who will step down at the end of the season. “I tried to tell them the game is not for coaches. It’s for them. I wanted them to enjoy it. And they played lights out. The defense played phenomenal.”
Brian Alford scored the game’s only touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Rick Trefziger with 7:20 remaining. Chris Koeppen recovered two fumbles, one costing Michigan (7-2, 4-2) a possible touchdown and the other setting up the Purdue TD. Interceptions by Derrick Brown and Jamel Coleman sealed the upset.
“We knew this was the seniors’ last couple games, so we wanted to go out on a positive note,” Koeppen said.
“Playing as a team, as a unit, we played pretty strong. We didn’t plan on the turnovers, obviously, but I guess we made our breaks.”
“There’s no question, any team losing its head coach has got to be excited for the game, especially playing Michigan. Who wouldn’t be?” Michigan QB Scott Dreisbach said.
“We didn’t hold onto the ball, we didn’t take care of the ball like we should have. Turnovers killed us. … I missed a lot of guys I should have hit, I fumbled the ball, I threw dangerous passes that were intercepted. We couldn’t do what we wanted to do,” Dreisbach said.
Fans poured from the stands and tore down the goalpost in the north end zone, where Alford had scored, as the final gun ended an emotional week for Colletto and the Boilermakers.
“This will erase some of the pain,” said Colletto, who saw his team win for just the third time in nine games this season and the second time in six Big Ten games. “It could be a shot in the arm, he said. “This program has lost for so long it becomes inbred in the system.”
Colletto had cited exhaustion as a reason for his resignation with one year left on his contract. Colletto has a 21-40-3 record in six years as the Purdue coach.
Michigan failed to score a touchdown against Purdue for the second straight year. The Wolverines won 5-0 last year on a field goal and safety.
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