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Maryland stymies befuddled Purdue, 24-7, in Champs Sports Bowl
Orlando, FL - As pointed out so adeptly in this week's edition of Sports Illustrated (January 8,2007), we witnessed the "Worst end to a Spectacular Friday". We hustled from Tampa Airport to the crumbling Citrus Bowl to be there on time to see a yawner of a game, as the Maryland Terps dominated a Purdue team with no intensity, no running game, and seemingly no interest to play in a football game this evening. It's an indication that there are definitely too many post-season bowl games. What surprised us is that we had expected to see Maryland come in flat as we had seen them beat Florida International (0-12) in their fourth game of the season in a "sleep-walk" of a game. Instead, the Terps came ready to play, and if you watched Purdue closely, you could swear that they didn't even know they were playing in a game! SI makes reference to four other games that day, Insight, Liberty, Music City and Sun, that all went down to the wire. For us, the game we geographically out of reach. On Friday for us, it was Citrus or bust! Luckily, the Outback made up for it!
Despite several weak passes by eventual game MVP Sam Hollenbach, he connected with TE Joey Haynes for the game's first score. Key runs by Lance Ball ( 18 for 98 yards) got t e Terps into scoring position. PK Don Ennis kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Terp lead. Purdue QB Curtis Painter ( 23 of 36 for 264 yards) was held in check on his next series as his receivers consistently dropped catchable passes.
Maryland was driving at the beginning of Q2. This possession resulted in a 1-yard plunge by Frosh FB Cory Jackson for a 14-0 lead with Ennis's second conversion. Painter was hurried and pounded by the Maryland D as the game wore on. Not only could his big line not block, Painter seemed oblivious to the rushers in his face. It's one thing to stand tall in the pocket, but it's another to scramble and get a second chance! The Terps got rolling on offense after re-taking possession at their own 25. Following a sideline warning, Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. From 46 yards out, Hollenbach (15 of 24, 223 yards, 2 TDs) threw long to WR Darrius Heyward-Bey for UMD's third TD of the evening. Ennis extended the lead, 21-0. In response, Painter used the final 2:05 in the period effectively passing to his one reliable wide-out, Darien Bryant ( (8 catches for 101 yards), four times to get into scoring position. With :30 left in the half, the "Boilers" finally got on the board as Painter connected with WR Greg Orton who caught the bal with one foot in the end zone before falling out of bounds. Purdue trailed, 21-7, and seemed to have found the key to moving the ball - short, quick passes to Bryant.
Purdue's All-America Band" featuring The World's Largest Drum played a tribute to one of our favorite movies in recent times, "Drum Line", with faux competition and white powder. Purdue has to be the biggest band we've ever seen since West Chester State in the early '80s! The Terp band followed, and then with combined HS bands led by drummer Tommy Aldridge of White Snake (hey, we discovered Jessica Simpson at a Temple game once), played a tribute to great songs of Rock & Roll (same stuff I listen to in my car every day along with fight songs). Twenty minutes of music is perfect for college football half-time entertainment. On with the - game?
A shanked punt gave Purdue its first possession of the half at its own 24. Tiller was thinking what we were thinking as Painter connected with Bryant on a pass for a big gain, but he fumbled at the end to be recovered by MLB Wesley Jefferson at the UMD 45. On third and ten, Hollenbach connected with wide-open slotback Danny Oquendo at the eleven for a first down. Purdue "held" Ennis to a 23-yard FG to take a 24-7 lead with 6:44 left in the third period. At this point, GGA Eric Koreivo, who had endured a long day of travel since 8 am said, "I'm tired. This game is boring. Can we go?" We agreed Purdue had nothing. This evening, they would finish with 21 yards on 13 carries. How did this team win 8 games? It showed that competition they faced outside the conference and at the bottom of the Big Ten was very weak! Regrettably, this game would not transpire like the Texas Tech -Minnesota game going on at the same time. Earlier, it was announced that the Golden Gophers were ahead early, 21-0. much to the elation of a Minnesota fan sitting in front of us. I promised Eric we could go early in the fourth quarter if Purdue did nothing, and that's what happened. Neither team did anything, and what we saw was the final score in a "minnow of a game. (opposite of whale) won by the Terps, 24-7.
Minutes after jumping off our space on the curb at 2100 Church Street where we paid $10 for prim parking at a body shop, the 11-year old GA was out cold. I searched great neighborhoods following misleading signs to get us on 408. I contemplated stopping at a 7-11 to read a map, but decided to drive through the lot frequented by non-Disney type characters. Once we had our bearings straight, ESPN radio reported changing scores on the Texas Tech- Minnesota game. To the chagrin of our elated neighbor in front of us, the Gophers allowed the Red Raiders to set a bowl record by overcoming a bowl deficit of 38-7 to eventually win 44-38! All the Boilermakers had to do was muster 18 points to do the same, but that didn't happen.
Maryland finished their season at 9-4. We hope to see the Terps visit Rutgers next season to see them play for the 10th time in what could turn out to be and interesting game despite losing their senior QB. The Boilers finished with a weak 8-6 record. To us, this game is indicative that there are too many teams going to too many bowl games. Six to eight wins over weak competition makes teams "bowl eligible". A bowl game used to be a reward, not an entitlement, but it's come to that. It doesn't matter who you beat, just how many you beat to earn some money for the program to be shared with other conference members. If a city has the money, "they will come!" To us, the Purdue team played the game more like it was a burden than a reward. Maybe it was a letdown after having played their last game in Hawaii. The fans came to Orland to have a good time and spend their money. The players were there to get their season over with. We left only hoping that the Outback would make up for this letdown of a game. Luckily for us, the Outback Bowl made our Florida bowl weekend experience well worth it!
Extra Points: The Citrus Bowl sits in a congested neighborhood with limited parking. Traffic patterns are altered and it isn't the easiest neighborhood to maneuver in during the evening when many fans are there for the first time. We lucked out parking on the curb at a body shop. WE were last in/first out. If not, we couldn't have left this bore of a game early.
The one tie in the history of the Citrus Bowl which eventually became Champs Sports Bowl, was played in 1956 between the alma mater, Juniata College, and Missouri Valley. The game ended 6-6. We have to give a plug to old JC whenever we can. The 2006 version drew 40,168 for a new record. We wonder how many attended in 1956.
The Citrus Bowl is the current home to Central Florida University football. The Golden Knights will soon have a new on-campus facility. With that, the days of this tired, old stadium may be numbered. It's nothing to brag about, especially in a city vibrantly built for tourism. We're sure that the Knights' new stadium will be state of the art and huge since its president has visions of a 60,000 student population according to Orland resident Anthony Cavalli, student and teaching assistant at CFU. If that's the case, it makes sense to tear down this worn out old stadium and move both Champs and Outback to the campus site which will hopefully have more and convenient parking. We can't believe a showcase New Year's game like the Capital One is played in this venue. Raymond James Stadium turned out to be a lot better! Aside from its home city of Orlando, games at the Citrus Bowl offer very little else for watching a bowl game.
Between games, we enjoyed visiting family, visiting Gatorland in Orlando, swimming in outdoor pools, swimming in the Gulf, digging for sharks' teeth in Venice (only found two), and watching other bowl game on TV. It was a great time. We hope to see more bowl games in the future. Happy New Year everybody!