BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart spent the season covering Big Ten football, and now it’s time for his team-by-team season recaps. Up right here: Purdue. Watch our video from the Boilermakers’ exciting overtime victory over Ohio State now and read Dienhart’s season recap in this post.
Record: 6-6 overall; 4-4 Big Ten.
Bowl: Little Caesar’s vs. Western Michigan.
Season recap: It was a season of ups and downs for Danny Hope in his third year in West Lafayette, as injuries dominated the news for a second season in a row with projected starting quarterback Rob Henry suffering a season-ending knee injury in fall camp and Robert Marve slow to recover at the start of 2011 from a knee injury suffered in 2010. The defense has enjoyed its moments, as the line can flash big-play ability and the secondary has veteran savvy. But the offense has gone in fits and starts, lacking much of a down-field passing game. Nonetheless, the Boilermakers did breakthrough to the program’s first bowl since the 2007 season. It will give Purdue a chance to win consecutive games, something it hasn’t done all season for just the second time in the last 16 years.
High point: Coming off consecutive road losses at Michigan and Wisconsin that saw Purdue get out scored 98-31, the Boilermakers returned home to stun Ohio State, 26-23, in overtime for the second time in three years. Purdue, which rationed the Buckeyes to 295 yards, blocked a potential game-winning extra point late in the contest to force overtime. Then, Marve scored on a one-yard sneak to win the game in OT.
Low point: A 62-17 loss at Wisconsin was brutal, but not the low point. That occurred earlier in the year, when Purdue K Carson Wiggs had a potential game-winning 31-yard field-goal attempt blocked as time expired in a 24-22 loss at Rice—which finished 4-8. This came a week after Purdue needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Middle Tennessee State, 27-24, at home in the season opener. The Owls had lost 22 consecutive games to BCS foes dating to 2001.
Offensive MVP: QB Caleb TerBush. He was thrust into starting duties when injury sidelined Rob Henry, and Robert Marve was slow to return from a 2010 knee injury. But TerBush acquitted himself with a steady performance most of the season that saw him throw for 1,804 yard and 12 touchdowns after he missed 2010 due to academics.
Defensive MVP: DT Kawann Short. He was a difference maker on the interior, notching 6.5 sacks and ranking third in the Big Ten in tackles for loss for an underrated line. The athletic Short often commanded a double-team en route to earning first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.