FORT WAYNE, Ind., (Indiana's Newscenter)--Joe Tiller doesn't have particularly fond memories of the 2008 football season.
In his swan song after 12 seasons as the Purdue coach, Tiller's Boilermakers lost five in a row and seven of eight during the season. They had injuries galore and scored seven points or fewer in four conference games. They finished 4-8.
Then there was the Old Oaken Bucket game.
For one glorious afternoon, everything clicked and Purdue routed Indiana 62-10.
Tiller was as surprised as anyone by the result.
"I'll admit this today, but I wouldn't have back then, but I didn't think we had the kind of team that could put up those kinds of numbers," Tiller said. "I didn't think we were that good and I thought Indiana was better than what they played."
Whatever the reasons, Purdue dominated the Hoosiers at Ross-Ade Stadium, something that has become a familiar tune. The past six times the teams have met in West Lafayette, the Boilers have won all six by a total of 280-83. Three times in the span, Purdue scored more than 50; twice more than 60.
Besides that 2008 beating, Purdue also drubbed IU 63-24 in 2004. It was after that game first-year Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan determined Gerry DiNardo should be fired. That decision became official the next week.
"This was just about the worst day we've had as a team," DiNardo said after the game. "It was an ugly day, but the world is not going to cave in, even though it felt like it a few times out there."
Unlike '08, when Tiller was surprised by his team, he wasn't surprised in '04 when Kyle Orton threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns against a hapless IU defense.
"In the 2004 game, I didn't think they were prepared to defend us," Tiller said. "When we went to the no-huddle offense and we got them in certain personnel packages that we wanted to get them in, they just weren't equipped to defend us.
"I remember standing on the sidelines and watching our guys clicking and just thinking, if they continue to try to defend us the way they're trying to defend us, this is going to get ugly."
As ugly as it got that day, and would get four years later, players say no one gives up with the Bucket on the line.
Former IU linebacker Matt Mayberry said just thinking back on the '08 loss this week brought back memories of how embarrassed and disgusted he was by it.
"What I remember is that they were in complete control and we couldn't stop their passing game for anything," Mayberry said. "It's very deflating when you are so pumped up for a rivalry game and the halftime score looks like that (41-3). I kept playing hard because at that point you're playing for the respect you have for yourself."
Former Purdue defensive tackle Jermaine Guynn, a senior on that '08 team, said no matter the records, Indiana-Purdue always will be important to the players. When a game gets out of hand like '08, he said, you just want to keep putting points on the board.
"You don't stop. You don't take your foot off the throttle because you're playing a team from the state of Indiana and it's a rivalry game," said Guynn, now a Purdue graduate assistant. "Some of these guys you may have played against in high school. Some may have been your teammates. But you never let up because you realize what the other team is capable of.
"In a rivalry game, if you let a team back in it, and they're clicking on all cylinders and the emotion takes over, you can be in trouble. So you just never let your foot off the gas.''
IU coach Bill Lynch still remembers how things got away from his team in '08. That's one of the reasons winning the Bucket is so important. He said the difference between winning the last game and losing it is monumental.
"The last game always stays with you," Lynch said. "When it is a rivalry game, it certainly sits with you longer, and when it is a blowout, it sits with you even longer. There is no kidding around about that. Just like teams playing in the BCS national championship game: The loser in that game will reflect on that loss longer than anything else even though they had a great season."
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