Joe Tiller's great games at Purdue: 2003-2005

Brian Neubert, GoldandBlack.com staff
Gold and Black
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Joe Tiller's great games at Purdue: 1997-99 | 2000-02

Joe Tiller, Purdue's all-time winningest coach, passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 74.

His impact in West Lafayette will long live on with the scores of fond memories he and his teams created for the Boilermaker program — the momentous or improbable wins, even some of the wild losses.

Win or lose, it was always eventful for Purdue during the Tiller Days.

Here's a look at some of the most memorable games between Purdue's storied 2003 season and 2005.

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AP

PURDUE 16, WAKE FOREST 13 — Sept. 13, 2003

This one might be pushing it in terms of listing Tiller's greatest games, but it was one of the great, and cathartic, finishes. After a stunning season-opening loss to Bowling Green, Purdue needed it badly and got it when it blitzed on a late fourth down, and Stu Scweigert, among others, took down Chris Barclay (now a Purdue assistant coach) to snuff out Wake's last hope.

PURDUE 23, NOTRE DAME 10 — Sept 27, 2003

This wasn't Notre Dame's greatest team, but every win over the Irish was a memorable one for Purdue, this one included. The Boilermakers were actually outgained by a wide margin by Brady Quinn and the Irish, but their defense won a difficult, physical contest, pitching a second-half shutout after the game was tied at 10 at halftime.

PURDUE 26, WISCONSIN 23 — Oct. 18, 2003

After Wisconsin scored on a punt return with 2:55 left to tie the game, Kyle Orton led Purdue down the field — hitting Ray Williams for 36 yards down to the Badger 3 — to set up Ben Jones' game-winning field goal with three seconds to play.

OHIO STATE 16, PURDUE 13 — Nov. 15, 2003

No game seemed to affect Tiller more than the near-miss in Columbus, a game in which 11th-ranked Purdue pushed fourth-ranked Ohio State into overtime, but missed some opportunities in the extra session, before Jones' kick to extend OT missed. Afterward, Tiller was uncharacteristically short and disengaged in his post-game press conference, clearly frustrated to have come so close against Ohio State yet again, this time in a game of particular magnitude.

PURDUE 41, NOTRE DAME 16 — Oct. 2, 2004

It seemed like maybe Purdue was never going to win in South Bend ever again after a few bizarre losses for the Boilermakers in Notre Dame Stadium. The '04 team dispelled that notion emphatically with a blowout victory in which Kyle Orton was extraordinary and defensive ends Anthony Spencer, Ray Edwards and Rob Ninkovich utterly dominant. Taylor Stubblefield's 60 yards worth of fist-pumping as he completed a 97-yard TD strike from Orton stands as iconic.

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WISCONSIN 20, PURDUE 17 — Oct. 16, 2004

Maybe the most painful memory of the modern era for Purdue, as the fifth-ranked and unbeaten Boilermakers and then-Heisman frontrunner Orton hosted No. 10 Wisconsin in a raucous environment, but saw a late fumble returned for a touchdown, costing it the game and seemingly changing its season from there on out.

PURDUE 24, OHIO STATE 17 — Nov. 13, 2004

After Purdue opened 5-0, it lost its next four by a total of just 10 points, as Orton battled injury. When it rallied late to beat Ohio State in Ross-Ade Stadium, frustration turned to elation when Orton came in — hurt — and led a game-winning TD drive, finished off by Dustin Keller with 2:17 left to play, a minute-and-a-half after the Buckeyes had tied the game. It was Tiller's 100th win as a head coach.

MINNESOTA 42, PURDUE 35 — Sept. 24, 2005

After Purdue famously opened the season ranked — somehow — No. 1 nationally by the Orlando Sentinel, things came unglued for the Boilermakers a few weeks into the season, leading to Tiller's first losing season at Purdue, almost a decade in. The flashpoint was the double-OT loss at Minnesota, in which the Boilermakers' flaws from leadership and camaraderie perspectives surfaced for all to see. There was nothing great about this game, but it was an important one, for all the wrong reasons for Purdue, nonetheless.

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