No. 25 Purdue came up with big plays and long touchdowns on offense, which was no surprise, but the Boilermakers' dominating defense caught everyone off guard.
Kyle Orton passed for 287 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to lead Purdue to a 51-0 victory over Syracuse yesterday. It was the Boilermakers' first shutout in four years.
"The defense obviously played great. Nobody expected this," Orton said. "I knew they were going to be a good defense, but I didn't think they would be this good this early. We've got a lot of great athletes."
Orton, a senior, and an experienced offense produced 571 yards and seven touchdowns. The defense has eight new starters and was expected to take time to develop. Instead, it held the Orange to 197 yards, forced four fumbles and added three sacks and two interceptions.
"We did a good job flying to the ball and keeping up our pursuit," Purdue linebacker Stanford Keglar said. "We were very successful with our penetration. We also stayed in our alignment and tried not to over-pursue."
Purdue's last shutout came in the 2000 season opener against Central Michigan.
Orton connected with Brian Hare for a 75-yard score in the first quarter, found Taylor Stubblefield for scores of 33 yards in the second quarter and 67 yards in the third period, and connected with Brandon Jones for 32 yards late in the third. Ben Jones's 34-yard field goal gave Purdue a 37-0 lead going into the final period, when Brandon Kirsch replaced Orton in the opener for both teams.
The Boilermakers got their final touchdowns on a 44-yard run by Jerome Brooks and a 47-yard pass from Kirsch to freshman Dustin Keller with just over two minutes to go.
"We gave up too many big plays on defense," Syracuse Coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "We were hoping to play through our inexperience, especially at the quarterback position, but just didn't do enough offensively. Purdue's an awful good team. We thought we'd run the ball better, but they kept coming with the blitz and we never adapted."
For Syracuse, it was the worst shutout loss since a 59-0 beating at Miami in 2001.
"Our defense did what we hoped it would. We were able to get the heat up front," Purdue Coach Joe Tiller said. "When you end up winning the game the way this game was won, you're pleased by many things. We did a lot of positive things."
Of Purdue's seven touchdowns, only the first -- a one-yard run by Jerod Void in the first quarter -- covered fewer than 32 yards. Two of the scores -- the 75-yarder by Hare and the 67-yarder to Stubblefield -- came on the first plays of the series.
* TENNESSEE 42, UNLV 17: Brent Schaeffer became the first Southeastern Conference freshman quarterback to start an opener in 59 years, running for one touchdown and throwing for another score for the No. 14 Vols in Knoxville, Tenn.