ORLANDO, Fla. — There’s no denying the Boilermakers had a lot going against them heading into the Citrus Bowl against the Bayou Bengals.
After all, the Boilermakers were operating under Interim Coach Brian Brohm. He had only been on the job for three weeks after Jeff Brohm left for his alma mater. Not to mention quarterback Aidan O’Connell, wideout Charlie Jones and tight end Payne Durham all skipped the the bowl game to prepare for the NFL.
And the aftermath was brutal on the gridiron. LSU annihilated Purdue from start to finish and won the game 63-7. Although the Boilermakers were clearly out-manned, it was almost like the players didn’t even get off the bus. No one on the roster even looked like they wanted to be there, because the players performed with no passion.
Brohm thought the Boilermakers practiced well and he put together a great gameplan, but for whatever reason nothing panned out.
“Yeah, obviously not the performance we were looking for and very disappointed in the result,” Brohm said. “A lot of people thought this might was going to happen, we were trying our hardest to make sure it didn’t.”
With a blink of an eye Purdue (8-6) found itself down 35-0 with a minute left in the first half. The Bayou Bengals kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way and never looked back. The Boilermakers finished the game with 263 yards of total offense, their second-lowest output of the seasonr.
Brohm gave quarterback Austin Burton the starting nod, but he struggled mightily all afternoon. He had very little protection from the big boys up front, and the Bayou Bengals pass rush was relentless. LSU clearly smelled blood in the water early on and four different defenders made Burton eat grass. And Purdue’s lack of execution is what surprised Brohm the most.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort, I thought our coaches and players put in the effort to try to go get a victory,” he said. “Just didn’t make it work.”
Burton completed 12 of his 24 passes, for 74 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Backup signal-callers Michael Alaimo and Jack Albers were also picked off. Not to mention LSU’s Quad Wilson returned one of Purdue’s interceptions 99 yards to the house and put an exclamation point on the afternoon.
Brian Kelly clearly has Purdue’s number, considering he has won seven-straight games over the program. The Boilermakers only averaged a mere 3.4 yards per play and had 11 fewer first downs than the Bayou Bengals. It’s mind-boggling that 12 different players carried the ball for Purdue, but it only ended up with 94 yards on the ground. LSU (10-4) didn’t let Purdue score until the fourth quarter. And at that point Kelly’s team was already up by 49 points.
Wideout TJ Sheffield caught Purdue’s only touchdown of the game, and finished with a team-high, seven receptions for 56 yards. He was proud of his performance, but disappointed that the team came up short. Still, he’s grateful for what the team was able to accomplish this season.
“I think we have done a great job this year, we definitely made history at Purdue, we just didn’t put it together today,” Sheffield said. “I’m ready to get back to it next season.”
Purdue’s defense didn’t help much either, and allowed 594 yards, which was the most all season. Now the Boilermakers have lost four of their last seven games overall. Regardless, with the new coaching staff coming in for 2023, Brohm believes the future looks bright for the program.
“I told the guys after the game, we want to see you guys be successful in the future, we want to see you guys in Big Ten Championship Game next year, as well.”