Elliott, Purdue rally from 2 TDs back at half for first win at Michigan since '66
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Joey Elliott did what no Purdue quarterback since Bob Griese had done at Michigan Stadium.
Elliott threw for a career-high 367 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, leading Purdue to a 38-36 comeback win over the Wolverines for its first win at the Big House since Griese did it in 1966.
"He's an Evansville [Ind.] native, just like myself," Elliott said with a grin.
While the Boilermakers were smiling, the Wolverines were crying because their 4-0 start might turn into a 5-7 flop.
"Anytime you invest so much time and effort into something, you're bound to cry," Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko said.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez got very emotional after his news conference when retiring athletic director Bill Martin tried to share him some encouraging words.
The Boilermakers (4-6, 3-3 Big Ten) trailed 24-10 at halftime. The Wolverines collapsed in the third quarter again, allowing 21 points for the second week in a row.
Purdue took the lead for good with on Elliott's 54-yard pass to wide-open receiver Cortez Smith with 5:04 left in the third, one play after surprising Michigan with an onside kick.
"We had that play greased up all season long, but never used it," coach Danny Hope said. "You have to wait for the right moment."
Michigan (5-5, 1-5) pulled within two points with 2:10 to go on Brandon Minor's third TD, but Tate Forcier was sacked on a 2-point conversion it was forced to attempt because of a missed extra point.
Purdue recovered the onside kick, punted and held on to end its 11-game road losing streak that was tied with Utah State for the longest active skid on the road. The Boilermakers, who beat Michigan and Ohio State in the same season since 2000, can rally to a bowl bid from a 1-5 start if they close with wins against Michigan State and at Indiana.
"It's huge for our football team," Hope said.
The loss might prove to be devastating for Michigan, which is in danger of going two straight seasons without a bowl for the first time since the 1973-74 seasons.
"The season is not over," Rodriguez said.
It will be finished if the Wolverines don't win at Wisconsin or against Ohio State at home.
"We can handle this mentally," Minor insisted. "I don't think none of us need to see Dr. Phil or Oprah."
Rodriguez, though, probably could use somebody to talk to about his frustrations.
He endured a school-record nine losses last year in his debut season with college football's winningest program.
This season started strong, but might end awfully and potentially could be compounded by more problems. The NCAA is investigating the Wolverines to find out if they violated rules regarding practice hours and offseason workouts.
Rodriguez is focused on Michigan's many on-the-field challenges, none of which he says can be corrected overnight.
"I don't have a magic wand," he said.
Rodriguez would need one to fix his defense.
In the past three games, the Wolverines have been outscored 75-12 in the second half by Purdue, Illinois and Penn State.
"It's embarrassing," Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham said. "But we know we're better than that. We're just trying to prove it."
Forcier showed he could win as a freshman in September, but he and the Wolverines are 1-5 since going undefeated in the first month.
He threw a TD pass and ran for a score, but fumbled on an option pitch that Purdue recovered early in the second half to sparked its comeback.
"It hurts," Forcier said. "I've never lost this many games in my life. It's going to be my job to get this team back to play like it did before."
2022 Big Ten Conference Standings