Breakdown: Purdue’s win at Illinois

Purdue’s off to a 2-0 start following its 31-24 win Saturday at Illinois, weathering a late Illini rally and sealing the win a red-zone turnover on downs.

Aidan O’Connell completed 13-of-14 first-half passes, including a 45-yard TD to Milton Wright, and finished 28-of-34 for 344 yards and two scores, while Zander Horvath ran for 104 yards and David Bell caught nine balls for 122 yards and touchdown and a remarkable game-sealing third-and-11 catch.

Three things from the game …

• This was a step backward for Purdue’s defense, even though It made numerous big plays.Illinois, whose offense was bad before It lost a dozen-plus players to COVID, accumulated almost 500 yards with a fourth-string QB.

Purdue was undisciplined, allowing at least four first downs by penalty on either third or fourth down.

• All eyes now turn to George Karlaftis’ status after he left the game in the first half with what looked like a lower-leg Injury, suffered when DT Lawrence Johnson inadvertently rolled into his ankle area.

Obviously a really important player for Purdue and cause for significant concern.

• Purdue could have run away and hid early in this game, but a couple of penalties kept its defense on the field and a Zander Horvath fumble was inexplicably upheld upon review after replays seemed to clearly show him to be down, leading to Illinois’ first score.

That was a bad break, but the Boilermaker defense gave up way too much to an extremely limited Illini offense early. Points and yards are two different things, but 260 first-half yards were a lot of first-half yards. Illinois bungled opportunities in the red zone, and Purdue deserves some credit for that, but while there wasn’t a whole lot of breaking, there was a lot of bending against an offense that was bad before it was decimated by COVID-19.

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