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On back of two, 50-point games, Purdue off to fast start

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Purdue started the season with one of the most impressive back-to-back performances in school history.

The Boilermakers won 52-24 at Toledo, then beat Eastern Illinois 52-6 last Saturday. It was only the fourth time Purdue scored 50 or more points in consecutive games.

The Boilermakers have 18 starters back from last year's 8-6 team, and coach Joe Tiller said the veterans have set the tone by being mentally prepared.

"I thought they did a good job of getting ready for Toledo, and I thought they did a good job last week, again," he said.

The Boilermakers led Toledo 28-14 at halftime in the season opener, then led 52-17 before the Rockets scored in the final two minutes. Purdue led Eastern Illinois 10-0 before the Panthers ran an offensive play.

The Boilermakers could set a team record of three straight games with at least 50 points Saturday against Central Michigan.

Purdue wide receiver Greg Orton said the energy comes from the bitter taste of last year's 24-7 loss to Maryland in the Champs Sports Bowl.

"A lot of people didn't like the way we went out last year," he said. "It just really took a lot of motivation to the offseason for a lot of people."

The Boilermakers have unleashed a killer instinct not seen since early 2004, the last time Purdue had back-to-back 50-point games.

Purdue opened the 2004 season with a 51-0 win over Syracuse, then followed that with a 59-7 win over Ball State. The 1980 Boilermakers beat Northwestern 52-31 on Nov. 1, then defeated Iowa 58-13 on Nov. 8.

Before that, you'd have to go back to the start of the 1893 season to find consecutive 50-point games. Purdue opened the season with a 64-0 win over Indiana, then followed that with a 96-0 win against Butler.

This season's early blowouts show progress for a program that had trouble handling teams from smaller conferences last year. In 2006, Purdue gave up 35 points to Division I-AA Indiana State in the opener, went to overtime with Mid-American Conference team Miami (Ohio) before winning and struggled with Ball State, another MAC team, before claiming a 38-28 win.

There was no such luck this year for Toledo, a MAC team, and Eastern Illinois, from the NCAA's new Football Championship Subdivision. Purdue defensive end Cliff Avril said the Boilermakers are trying to jump on teams early, then keep the pressure on.

"We have a lot of seniors, and we all know what it takes to win," he said. "We're just trying to get everybody else on the same page and trying to stay focused. At the same time, we try to make it fun as much as we can."

Tiller said he has scaled back some of the practices in the first two weeks of the season. He likes the results and said it's up to the players if they want it to continue.

"We eased up a bit for them," he said. "Maybe this is a routine to go with through the course of the year."

Orton said Tiller has mentioned having the team practice in shells on Tuesdays -- helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

"We usually go full pads on Tuesdays, but coach said if we continue working hard, we might go down to shells, which is a good thing everybody looks forward to," Orton said.



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