Bell with bucket

Purdue University photo

Purdue wide receiver David Bell hoists the Old Oaken Bucket trophy Nov. 27 after the Boilermakers beat down Indiana, 44-7.

WEST LAFAYETTE — The Old Oaken Bucket returned to Purdue as the Boilermakers football team cruised to a 44-7 victory Nov. 27 over Indiana in front of a sellout crowd at Ross-Ade Stadium.

The Boilermakers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) beat the Hoosiers (2-10, 0-9) for the third time in the past four matchups, while winning by the largest margin in the series since 2008.

By improving to 8-4 on the season, Purdue won eight games for the first time in 15 seasons. Finishing 6-3 in Big Ten play, the Boilermakers racked up their most conference victories since the 2003 campaign – the late Joe Tiller’s final season as Purdue’s coach.

For the fifth consecutive game, Aidan O’Connell was accurate without committing a turnover. The Purdue quarterback threw for 278 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, completing 26 of his 31 passes for the best completion percentage (.839) by a Boilermaker in an Old Oaken Bucket game.

Despite not practicing all week due to an injury, Biletnikoff Award finalist David Bell caught six passes for a team-high 79 yards and one touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, the Purdue defense did not make anything easy for the Hoosiers. The Boilermakers limited Indiana to just 205 yards of total offense and recorded 10 tackles for loss, including a career-high 3.0 TFL by defensive tackle Branson Deen.

Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening possession. Purdue used 13 plays to march 75 yards down the field, capped off by a Zander Horvath one-yard run. Starting off Senior Day, the fifth-year senior stretched the ball over the goal line to put the Boilermakers on top early. However, Indiana countered with a rushing touchdown on the other end of the field to make it a 7-7 game after one quarter of play.

Purdue grabbed the lead back for good in the second quarter when O’Connell found Paul Piferi wide open down the sideline. The 23-yard hookup was the first touchdown reception of the sophomore tight end’s career. Mitchell Fineran added a field goal to increase the advantage to double figures, and the Boilermakers went into the halftime locker room up 17-7.

After forcing an Indiana three-and-out to start the second half, Purdue grew its lead with another touchdown pass. It was a senior connection as O’Connell threw a dart to Jackson Anthrop for a 21-yard touchdown.

Getting the ball back again, O’Connell led the Boilermakers down the field. The quarterback tossed a 5-yard pass to TJ Sheffield on a smooth out route, building the cushion to 31-7.

The Boilermaker offense added 13 more points in the fourth quarter, while the defense completed a second half shutout to bring the Bucket back to West Lafayette.

Purdue currently leads the all-time series 75-42-6, including a 61-32-3 mark in Old Oaken Bucket games. The Boilermakers improved to 3-1 against Indiana under head coach Jeff Brohm.

Ending the 2021 regular season with a record of 8-4, including 6-3 in Big Ten play, the Boilermakers await to see where they will be heading for a bowl game. Bowl selections will be announced Sunday, Dec. 5.

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