WEST LAFAYETTE – No matter where Jeff Brohm turned, he couldn’t find an offense Saturday.
Jack Plummer. Aidan O’Connell. Neither quarterback could push Purdue into the end zone. The rain didn’t help but the dropped passes did more harm than anything falling out of the sky.
Meanwhile, Illinois ran the ball effectively, took advantage of a key mistake and posted a 24-6 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium. The Fighting Illini won back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time since 2014 and reclaimed the Cannon for the first time since 2015.
The Boilermakers avoided the shutout when O’Connell hit tight end Payne Durham on an 11-yard touchdown with 5:49 to play. O’Connell was 6-for-6 on the drive and 7 of 13 for 65 yards.
Plummer handed the Fighting Illini a touchdown when he gift-wrapped a pick-six for cornerback Tony Adams, who waltzed in from 13 yards to push the lead to 10-0 with 9:58 left until halftime.
That brought O’Connell into the game and the backup couldn’t move the offense, either. He was a victim of a dropped third-down pass by Milton Wright, a trend by the receivers on this day.
Plummer returned to quarterback after two series but couldn’t score any points before the end of the first half. Plummer started the second half, but a third-quarter fumble set up the Illini’s final touchdown – a 20-yard run by Reggie Corbin.
The Illini basically put the game out of reach with a 6-play, 63-yard drive late in the second quarter, capped by quarterback Brandon Peters’ 1-yard sneak. That pushed the lead to 17 points and basically put the Boilermakers in the worst position possible.
Dre Brown rushed for 110 of his 131 yards in the first half, including runs of 21 and 25-yards on the TD scoring drive.
► Saturday’s loss doesn’t officially eliminate the Boilermakers from a bowl bid, but they’ll have to beat Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Indiana to finish 6-6 to qualify for a third straight year.
► Linebacker Cornel Jones was a game-time decision and did see action late in the first half. Safety/nickel Jalen Graham was also a game-time decision but didn’t play.
► After 13 catches at Iowa, freshman David Bell was targeted six times.
► George Karlaftis recorded his team-leading sixth sack in the first quarter.
► Brohm tried two trick plays on the same drive in the third quarter. One worked. The other one didn’t. It shows you how desperate the Boilermakers were for yards.
► After Plummer fumbled near midfield in the third quarter, O’Connell replaced the Arizona native for the second time. Plummer finished 8 of 20 for 71 yards.
Mike Carmin covers Purdue sports for the Journal & Courier. Email email@example.com and follow on Twitter @carmin_jc