All week long I have been seeing stats and other memories related to the 1996 final game for both teams. This was the first of many bucket games for me. I have seen one every other year ever since 1996. I did not see a great game for my first one though as the Boilers dropped it 33-16. This is the last time that the Hoosiers have won inside of Ross-Ade Stadium.
As you can see by the ticket the team was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1966 team that went to the Rose Bowl. I bought my ticket to the game at my local Purdue campus, and snuck in to sit with my friends in the Purdue student section. Thinking back to 1996 it still surprises me how small the student section was. As crazy as it sounds now I was at the game more as an impartial observer. I had just started attending the Purdue campus up by me, and did not have the ties at the school yet. I knew that I wanted Purdue to win, but it didn’t really affect me when they did not. Now if the team loses today I will not be happy for sure. The days of being impartial at Purdue are now over.
This was the last game for both Bill Mallory and Jim Colletto at their respective schools. The next season the new Purdue coach would lose his first game to a MAC school then start a win total that would top the schools all time list. Colletto left Purdue with a 21-42-3 record at the school. That is not something to write home about. He would go on to coach at Notre Dame, and help their school continue their spiral down. Indiana lost one of their most valuable coaches ever, and Purdue was about to get one of their best.
When I look back on this game now I see a team waiting to be great. How many of the players that came back in 1997 thought that they would accomplish what they did? This was the last losing season the Boilers would have for some time. They would go on to 8 straight bowls. While in the watered down bowl world we live in now that is not a huge accomplishment it is still great for a school that had only been to a handful before.