October is supposed to be the month Purdue proves itself a contender in the Big Ten. But the Boilermakers had no one to contend with Michigan quarterback Dernard Robinson late Saturday afternoon at Ross-Ade Stadium. Robinson ran for 235 yards to become the Big Ten's all-time leading rusher for quarterbacks, passing former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El. Michigan humbled Purdue 44-13 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
"(Robinson) is a great player," said Purdue coach Danny Hope. "He executed the quarterback run read game very well today. He turned the field over today 3-4-5 times and really impacted the outcome of the ballgame. I didn't realize he had rushed for that many yards."
Robinson repeatedly kept the football on the option and broke through the Boilermakers for runs of 38, 46, and 59 yards.
"He's a great runner," said Purdue linebacker Robert Maci, who forced a Robinson fumble that set up Purdue's only touchdown. " We can bend on defense, having him gash us once or twice. But it was just too much."
Michigan already led 14-0 in the second quarter when Purdue tried to convert a 4th and 1 at the Michigan 43. Caleb TerBush threw high to the sideline through the hands of O.J. Ross. Raymon Taylor picked the deflection and darted 63 yards for a Wolverines touchdown.
"It was a huge swing in their favor," said TerBush. "It's never fun throwing a pick six, because you know the momentum that it gives the other team."
Purdue scored its only touchdown late in the first half on a four yard touchdown pass from TerBush to Ross. Purdue trailed at halftime 28-10.
Purdue had averaged 51 points in its first three home games. But with the offense still struggling, Hope replaced TerBush with Robert Marve late in the 3rd quarter. Marve's career has been plagued by knee injuries, his latest another torn ligament against Notre Dame September 8. Marve led the Boilers to a field goal on his first drive, Purdue's last points of the game. He later threw an interception on a deflected pass.
"I was pleased with Robert," said Hope. "I think he showed great courage and a lot of grit."
Marve says his knee is not in pain.
"I'm looking for an opportunity to play some more," said Marve. "I still think I can bring a lot to the table. I was happy with the drive I had. Hopefully I can keep it going."
With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, Purdue is considered a favorite in the Leaders division. The Boilermakers play their first division game next Saturday, home again against Wisconsin.
"I don't think we set back at all," said defensive tackle Kawann Short, who led the Boilermakers with eight tackles. "You lose and you learn from it."