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Big-game blues continue for Painter, Purdue

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- When Curtis Painter finishes his college career later this year, his name will be scattered throughout the Purdue and Big Ten record books.

But the senior quarterback wanted to add a different sort of number to his résumé on Saturday -- 16. That was the national ranking Oregon had when it took the field at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue hadn't beaten a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 10 Iowa on Nov. 8, 2003. Painter arrived the next fall.

For much of Saturday's game, the Boilermakers' big-game drought looked to be nearing its end. Painter and the offense made some mistakes, but Oregon made just as many and the Boilers' defense kept coming up with big plays.

At times, the Ducks seemed to give the game away, but Purdue never took it and fell 32-26 in two overtimes.

"When we needed to, we made some big plays," Painter said, "and also, when we needed to, we didn't, if that makes any sense."

Making sense of Purdue's recurring big-game bugaboo won't be easy for Painter and his teammates after their latest might-have-been moment. Painter is 0-7 against the Big Ten's traditional top four teams -- Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin -- and could have used a boost against a marquee nonconference opponent.

Of the many missed opportunities Saturday, one stood out in the first overtime. After holding Oregon to a field goal, Purdue reached the 10-yard yard line when referees flagged cornerback Walter Thurmond for pass interference. But the Boilers couldn't deliver the finishing blow, as Painter was sacked and then stopped well short of the goal line on a third-down scramble.

"To be down there and to have that scenario, you ought to be able to capitalize," Painter said. "Unfortunately, that's one drive or possession that we'd like to play over again.

"You'd like to think we can put that in."

Painter completed 26 of 50 passes for 207 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Despite blustery conditions, he said the wind only affected a few throws and wasn't a huge factor.

"He threw it well at times, but other times we did a very poor job managing the game," coach Joe Tiller said.

Tiller went on to reference Painter's interception in the final minute of the first half that led to an Oregon field goal. Painter struggled in the third quarter but rebounded late and led Purdue on a 14-play, 53-yard, clock-eating drive that set up a potential game-winning field-goal attempt that Chris Summers missed wide left.

Fortunately for Painter and Purdue, the big-game chances don't end. The next four games come against MAC champ Central Michigan, rival Notre Dame, No. 17 Penn State and No. 5 Ohio State.

"We played a good team well today," Painter said. "Our team is the type of team that will be mature about this and take the good things out of it. I don't think we're the type of team that's really going to hang our head."

Painter's teammates aren't worried about a carryover effect.

"Curtis has been really good at just putting things aside and focusing on what he has to do next," safety Frank Duong said. "He's been around here long enough, he's played in a lot of big games, so he knows how to move on."