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Boilermakers Come Up Short Again Against Missouri

Casey Abbett

Just how badly has the 2018 season started for the Purdue football team?

In their first three games, the Boilermakers have been outscored by a total of eight points.  They're 0-3.

The last two of those losses have come on field goals tried in the final five or fewer seconds of the 4th quarter.

And even Northwestern found a way to add insult to Purdue's season Saturday. Two weeks after a season-opening win over the Boilermakers, the Wildcats became the first Big Ten Conference team since 1894 to lose to Akron.

As with the first two games of the year, Saturday's 40-37 loss to Missouri (a team Purdue soundly defeated 35-3 on its home turf a year ago) had bright spots (but not quite enough) and head-shaking mistakes (too many).

Starting quarterback David Blough finished the game with 572 passing yards, a new school record, to go with 3 passing touchdowns and one rushing TD. When asked after the game why Blough tossed the ball 55 times, Head Coach Jeff Brohm said he had little choice but to run such a one-dimensional offense. "We aren't good at running the ball right now and knowing this game would be a track meet, we went with a lot of passing," he said. The Boilers averaged just 2.6 yards per carry on the ground.

The special teams unit registered its first blocked field goal since 2015...but was assessed a penalty that turned a Missouri punt into a Tiger first down when Semisi Fakasiieiki realized only too late there were 10 men on the field, rushed toward the line and was called for offisdes.

The defense again struggled to pressure an opposing quarterback, allowing Missouri senior Drew Lock to throw for 375 yards and three scores of his own -- all while his running backs rushed for almost 200 more yards than Purdue's ball carriers did. The lack of a pass rush forced defensive coordinator Nick Holt to send just three men on many plays so Mizzou's talented crop of receivers had more defensive backs to contend with.

It appeared Purdue, which had twice trailed by double digits, might take the lead late in the 4th quarter, but what was originally ruled a touchdown catch by senior wideout Jared Sparks (matched up much of the night across from his brother Adam, a sophomore defensive back for the Tigers) was overturned on review.

The Boilers settled for a game-tying field goal, but watched Lock complete two passes of at least 20 yards on the ensuing drive before setting kicker Tucker McCann up for the game-winning 25-yard boot.

Of the Boilers' nine remaining opponents, three entered the week ranked in college football's top 25 (though 6th-ranked Wisconsin unexpectedly lost to BYU Staurday). Three is also the maximum number of losses Purdue can sustain for the rest of the year if it hopes to reach a second straight bowl game.

The team will complete its four-game, season-opening homestand next week with a Homecoming tilt against Boston College.

Casey Abbett is a senior at Purdue from LaCrosse, Indiana, and has been been interning as a sports reporter for WBAA since his freshman year.