Game Review: Eastern Kentucky Colonels vs Purdue Boilermakers 9/1/12, 3:30 pm
Weather: Warm, Partly Cloudy; Ticket Price $20
“Engineering Tradition” By Tree
Ross-Ade Stadium is in the middle of campus and I found little sections of tailgating as I walked to the stadium. I had not bought a ticket prior to the game and was able to walk right up to the arena next door and buy a seat for $20. This was in the end zone in the family section. They were pretty good seats for the end zone. There is only one jumbo screen in the stadium and it sits on that end so if a play at the opposite end is missed, good luck catching the replay. The location is moot though because evidently they are taking those seats out. I am not sure why because the local families clearly take advantage of the cheap seats and it gives the games a real friendly vibe. The stadium itself feels pretty dated. After being at Michigan State the day before, the stadium felt about the same size as the ones I played in back in my DIII days. Obviously, it is not, but it did not feel very Big 10. However, I am guessing it gets pretty intense during games with rivals given that the fans are right on top of the field. Concessions seem to be pretty light although the smell of roasting nuts certainly added to the ambiance. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get a souvenir cup at the end zone concessions stands.
Purdue does have some unique traditions. Before the game, the band and train march up to the stadium. Once inside, they cheer “Boiler Up”. Given that Purdue is one of the finest engineering schools in the U.S. / world, the mix of students is more eclectic. There are traditional mid-western students but also a healthy mix of all nationalities, primarily Indian and Asian. Sitting in the end zone, there was a burly farmer in a John Deere trucker hat next to a couple of young Chinese women in mini-skirts, black leather jackets, and hello kitty back packs. Not a typical pairing, but undoubtedly a representational mix of the student body.
Getting to the stadium was pretty easy. I was coming from the west having attended the Boise State vs Michigan State the day before. As I approached Lafayette, Indiana, I passed a number of wind farms. It was a very impressive sight. In what seemed to be a very practical approach, there were signs to the stadium directing drivers off the freeway and onto back roads into the stadium. This made for a very solitary and traffic free approach to the stadium. I passed lots of corn and windmills which was oddly surreal. I arrived at the Purdue mid-afternoon for a 3:30 pm game. The stadium was on campus and there was parking around and on campus. It was well marked, but I managed to find a small park right next to the lots where I could park for free. Given that the game was against a D1 AA opponent, parking might not always be free in such a location. It was raining all the way to the game, so much that my companion Q (see Army, MSU) bailed on me, not wanting to hang out in the rain to see the likely rout. However, the clouds parted right when I parked, and I enjoyed sunshine the entire game.
As expected, this game was a rout even with Purdue suspending their starting quarterback Caleb TerBush for violating team rules. Not exactly the gutsiest call given they were playing a lower division team in Eastern Kentucky. It was 34-6 at the half and the rout was on. There were two blocked PATs which is not something seen every day. It was also pretty sloppy with nine total turnovers. This was a yawner pretty early on.
Purdue’s engineering culture was in full display as Neil Armstrong had passed away the day before. Astronaut Armstrong was a Purdue alumnus and they proudly celebrated his achievements at half time. The football team held up their end as well, taking it to an under-matched Eastern Kentucky team. The fans were into the game but given the opponent, the stands steadily emptied as the game progressed. I couldn’t confirm it, but my guess is the students were going back to do homework.
I wouldn’t say attending a Purdue home game is a college football “must”. However, if for some reason you happen to be near Lafayette, Indiana in early fall, it would be a nice way to spend an afternoon with the kids.