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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 6

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Page 71 of 110

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 26, ISSUE 6 70 history: A 14-10 setback on Homecoming to No. 2 Mich- igan State. The Spartans went on to Pasadena ranked No. 1 in the country before being shocked by UCLA. It was clear the stars were going to have to line up for Purdue to reach what it hoped was its destiny. And that is exactly what happened in 1966. It is relevant and important to remember in those days the Big Ten invoked a no-repeat rule. Simply put, that meant Michigan State, the '65 champ, was not el- igible for a trip to the Rose Bowl after the '66 season. Good thing, because the '66 Spartans, under Coach Duffy Daugherty, finished as conference champs with a 9-0-1 record. The only blemish was a 10-10 tie at the hands of Notre Dame in the final week of the season in the most famous deadlock in college football history. With the Spartans out of the way, Purdue had a little breathing room. But it didn't mean it was easy nor did the Boilermakers take the easy route. They suffered an early-season loss to the Irish and were beaten handily by the Spartans in East Lansing. But two victories truly helped put the "team of desti- ny" tag on the Boilermakers' shoulders. The first was a 22-21 win at Michigan, which hap- pened the week before the loss at Michigan State. In that contest, the Boilermakers needed a blocked punt by 27-year-old Vietnam War veteran Frank Burke that he just happened to catch in mid-air before falling into the end zone. They were the only points in the fourth quarter and sealed the win for Purdue, which had been outgained by nearly 250 yards and lived to tell about it. Down in the dumps after the 21-point drubbing by the Spartans, the Boilermakers had to have more fourth-quarter magic to pull out a Homecoming win over Illinois. Griese may have cost himself the Heisman Trophy by throwing a career-high five interceptions that sunny afternoon against the Illini, but his late heroics kept Purdue in the running for the roses. Griese's pass- ing led Purdue to 15 unanswered points in the game's final period, including a 67-yard scoring drive that fin- ished with a 32-yard pass to Jim Finley in the game's closing minutes. It is a strange coincidence that on Purdue's only oth- er trip to Pasadena after the 2000 season, Drew Brees had to overcome four interceptions to defeat Ohio State in an amazing finish that, for all intents and purposes, delivered the Boilermakers to a Big Ten title. Yet, with three games left in the '66 season, Purdue was far from home free. It had to exorcise some past demons by winning at Wisconsin and Minnesota. And it did so in grand style, pitching shutouts in each victory. The latter one, played in 19-degree conditions, clinched the Boilermakers' trip to Pasadena. Icing on the cake came in the form of a 51-6 blowout of Indiana. Once in Pasadena, the thousands of Boiler- maker fans, many of whom had saved a lifetime for a trip West, left a positive impression on the Hollywood crowd. Purdue was a two-touchdown favorite over USC, coached by a former Boilermaker running back and Hall- of-Famer named John McKay, but struggled to put away the Trojans. Trailing 14-13, USC went for the win with just over two minutes to go, but defensive back George Catavolos intercepted a pass on a two-point conversion attempt to seal the Boilermaker triumph. Purdue fans were so excited they ripped down the wooden goal posts before the game actually ended. A clear indicator of how improbable Purdue's Rose Bowl journeys have been: It has taken two Hall of Fame-level quarterbacks to get Purdue to Pasadena in Brees and Griese. And it will may take another to earn a third trip. j

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