Aug. 24, 1998
The Purdue football team, under second-year head coach Joe Tiller, raises the curtain on the 1998 season against Southern California at the ninth-annual Pigskin Classic in Los Angeles on Sunday, Aug. 30. Last season the Boilermakers enjoyed a storybook campaign by finishing 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten Conference for a second-place tie (with Ohio State and Penn State). Purdue defeated Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl 33-20 and was ranked No. 15 in the final Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national polls.
RADIO: WAZY (96.5 FM) / Purdue Sports Radio Network -- Joe McConnell (play-by-play), Pete Quinn (color commentary), Tim Newton (pregame/halftime/postgame)
TELEVISION: ABC Sports -- Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (color commentary), Dean Blevins (sideline)
HEAD COACH JOE TILLER: Joe Tiller is in his second season as Purdues head coach with a 9-3 record (.750 winning percentage) and his eighth season as a collegiate head coach with a 48-33-1 record (.591). He is 22-5 in his last 27 games. Tiller was named the Boilermakers 33rd head coach Nov. 22, 1996. He was the head coach at Wyoming from 1991-96 and compiled a 39-30-1 record. The Cowboys played in the 1993 Copper Bowl and reached the 1996 Western Athletic Conference championship game.
In 1997 Tiller was named National Coach-of-the-Year by both Football News and Kickoff magazines, the GTE Region 3 Coach-of-the-Year (Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA) by the American Football Coaches Association and the Big Ten Dave McClain Coach-of-the-Year. He also was one of six finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant National Coach-of-the-Year and a finalist for National Coach-of-the-Year by The Sporting News. Tiller was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Boilermakers from 1983-86.
EARLY RISERS: The Boilermakers are playing in August for just the third time in school history, and Aug. 30 marks their earliest-ever season opener. They opened the 1985 season Aug. 31 at Pittsburgh (31-30 loss) and the 1996 season Aug. 31 at Michigan State (52-14 loss). Also, Purdue is playing on Sunday for the first time ever.
HISTORY 101 -- ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Purdue and USC have met three times previously with the Trojans holding a 2-1 advantage. The Boilermakers won 14-13 in the 1967 Rose Bowl (Pasadena), while the Trojans won 19-6 in 1975 (Los Angeles) and 31-13 in 1976 (West Lafayette). Purdue has an 0-2-1 record at the Coliseum (tied UCLA 0-0 in 1959, lost to USC 19-6 in 1975 and lost to UCLA 31-21 in 1979). The Boilermakers have lost their last six Pac-10 road games, dating to a 26-14 win at Stanford in 1970.
ROSE BOWL MEMORIES: Purdue capped a 9-2 season with a hard-fought 14-13 victory over USC in the 1967 Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, 1967. Two touchdowns by fullback Perry Williams and a last-second interception of an attempted two-point conversion by defensive back George Catavolos sealed the deal. Defensive back John Charles was selected the games Most Valuable Player. The 1998 Boilermakers will tour the Rose Bowl on Monday, Aug. 31 before returning to West Lafayette.
1998 CAPTAINS: Purdues captains this season are senior wide receiver Issac Jones and senior defensive end Rosevelt Colvin.
MAKE IT A DOZEN, COUSIN: The Boilermakers will play 12 regular-season games this year for the first time in school history. Purdue has ended up with 12 games five times previously with the 12th contest being a postseason bowl game (1978 Peach, 1979 Bluebonnet, 1980 Liberty, 1984 Peach and 1997 Alamo).
A LOOK BACK AT A GREAT SEASON: In 1997 Purdue posted its first on-the-field winning season since the 1984 Boilermakers finished with a 7-5 record. (The 1994 team was awarded a forfeit victory over Michigan State to improve its record to 5-4-2.) Also last season the Boilermakers earned their first bowl berth since 1984 (Peach Bowl, 27-24 loss to Virginia) and were nationally ranked for the first time since 1984. Purdues final ranking of No. 15 was its highest since 1979 (10th).
UPSIDE DOWN, TURNAROUND: The Boilermakers 9-3 record a year ago (after going 3-8 in 1996) marked the second-best turnaround in the nation behind only Western Michigan (2-9 to 8-3) and coach Gary Darnell. Additionally, it was the second-greatest turnaround in school history behind the 1943 team that went 9-0 under coach Elmer Burnham one year after the 1942 squad finished 1-8 under Burnham.
TROPHY TRIUMVIRATE: In 1997 the Boilermakers claimed victories in all of their traveling trophy games for the first time since the 1985 season. They defeated Notre Dame 28-17 for the Shillelagh, Illinois 48-3 for the Cannon and Indiana 56-7 for the Old Oaken Bucket. Purdue outscored its three rivals by a combined score of 132-27.
HIGH-OCTANE OFFENSE: Scribes and broadcasters were sent scrambling to their dictionaries and thesauruses to come up with words to describe the Purdue offense last season. When all the numbers were finally calculated the Boilermakers set school records with 396 points (33.0 per game) and 5,510 total yards (459.2 per game). The previous standards were 354 points in 10 games in 1969 (35.4 per game) and 5,269 total yards in 12 games in 1980 (439.1 per game). Purdue paced the Big Ten in passing yards (285.2 per game) and total offense and ranked seventh in the nation in total offense, 13th in passing and 22nd in scoring.
DRIVING MISS DAISY MR. TILLER: With apologies to Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, the Boilermakers had six scoring drives of 90-plus yards and 14 scoring drives of 80-plus yards last season.
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT: Purdue outscored its opponents by a 107-48 margin during the first quarter a year ago. The Boilermakers most-productive quarter was the second (112).
DONT FORGET THE DEFENSE: With all the hype about the Boilermakers offense last season, it was easy to overlook a rather stingy defense. Purdue surrendered just 22.3 points per game to rank 46th in the nation. The last time the Boilermakers allowed fewer than 22 points was during the 1981 season (21.9).
PURDUE TAKETH AWAY: The Boilermakers led the Big Ten and ranked ninth nationally with a school-record +14 turnover margin last season. The previous standard was +11 in 1959. The Boilermakers finished with 12 fumble recoveries and 23 interceptions (second-highest total in school history behind the 27 in 1969). Purdue lost the turnover battle in only two games (2-1 at Toledo and 3-1 vs. Penn State).
TAKE HOME A SACK: The 1997 Boilermakers amassed 35 quarterback sacks (for -223 yards). The school record is 38 sacks by the 1989 squad. Junior right end Rosevelt Colvin led the way with 12.5 sacks (for -77 yards) to rank fourth in the Big Ten.