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The Anatomy of a SpoilermakerLast Saturday, the nation witnessed Purdue Pete harvest another top ranked team's playoff dreams to feed hisnever ending hunger for the hope and happiness of others, this time at the expense of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Immediately, incredible stats likethis started popping up touting the Boilermaker's status as the one true Spoilermaker. As part of a fanbase that knows damn wellwhat Purdue can do to title hopes , even that stat sounded unbelievable. Surely other teams have a similar record against highly ranked teams, especially since the starts BCS and CFP started pitting top ranked teams against each other, but it seems Purdue has a special talent for beating the top while unranked. So I took a dive into the very soul of Boilermaker history to uncover just what makes the Spoilermakers so terrifyingly special. First, for clarification’s sake, we should define just what a Spoilermaker is. For our purposes, the Boilermakers become Spoilermakers when an unranked Purdue team defeats a team who at the time of the game is ranked in the Top 5 of the AP Poll. I could have extended the search to opponents ranked in the top 10, 15, or 25, but that's a lot of Purdue football to go over since 1936 and a victory over a Top 5 team is simply that much more impactful for the season, the final rankings, and the enjoyment of the rest of the college football world. If a Purdue team beats a ranked team early on that ends up in the Top 5, but is not at the time of the game, that is not a Spoilermaker. Additionally, I only looked at the results from the perspective of the AP poll. Partially because the statistic that inspired my research only focused on the AP Poll, and partially because that was the only poll's information that sports-reference.com readily displayed on a weekly basis. Overall Records In their history, the Boilermakers have had the opportunity to play Spoilermaker a whopping 58 times since the AP Poll's inaugural season in 1936, coming away victorious 15 total times. As one of the founding members of the Big Ten, Purdue would be presented with ample opportunities to take down Top 5 opponents by constantly being pitted against Blue Blood programs and perennial contenders like Michigan and Ohio State for the entirety of the AP poll's existence; as well as having a near annual rivalry with Notre Dame, a school which I am told was once considered very good at football. Inherently, these 3 schools have been Purdue's most frequent opponents when presented with the opportunity for a Spoliermaker Special, with 34 matchups and 7 of Purdue's upset victories. Opponent Record vs Ohio State 3-11 Michigan 2-9 Notre Dame 2-9 Likely Purdue's most well-known Spoilermaker relationship has been with the Buckeyes. The 3 wins and 14 tries are most in each of their respective categories against all other teams. With the first Spoilermakers appearance against the Buckeyes in 1960 and the most recent in 2018 (coupled with having a better record against Ohio State than arch-rival Michigan since the turn of the century) Purdue has long had a reputation amongst the Ohio State fan base as season killers . Additionally, the series has produced both the Spoilermakers' highest margin of victory (49-20 in 2018) and highest margin of defeat (0-56 in 2013). However, tied for the most Spoilermaker appearances are the unlikely Michigan State Spartans with an overall 3-3 record against unranked Purdue teams as a Top 5 team. The Spartans joined the Big Ten in 1950 and almost immediately began to fall victim to the Boilermakers going 2-3 against unranked Purdue teams as a Top 5 team from 1953-1958. During that time frame 2 of Purdue's 3 wins represented the only loss on the Spartans otherwise spotless records in 1953 and 1957, being denied national titled and finishing 3rd both years. This was also during Pete's earlier soul-eating years and stilllooked like this. Terrifying. The oddest (by modern standards) matchup I found was Purdue's history with Fordham. Yes,that Fordham. Between 1936 and 1941, the unranked Boilermakers went 0-3 against the Top 5 Rams, who were so dominant in those games, that Purdue only managed to score a single field goal in the entire series, being outscored by the Rams 51-3 in that stretch. Maybe even more curious, despite being undefeated in the series prior to the AP Poll being introduced, beginning in 1936, Purdue went 0-5-1 against Fordham with all but one of the series' games being played at the famedPolo Grounds in New York. There has also only been one instance of a Spoilermaker appearance in a Bowl Game. The 1998 Alamo Bowl featured the 4th Ranked Kansas State Wildcats coming off a double overtime loss to Texas A&M in the Big XII Championship Game against the 4th Place in the Big Ten unranked Purdue Boilermakers. Perhaps due to the disappointment of not appearing in a BCS bowl, the Wildcats found themselves down in the 4th quarter, taking the lead with under 90 seconds to go, only for a SophomoreDrew Brees to hit a 24 yard TD strike with 30 seconds left, sealing with Purdue upset, 37-34. Lastly, there has only been one team with an overall losing record in multiple Spoilermaker Opportunities,Purdue's latest victim , the Iowa Hawkeyes. After Saturday, unranked Purdue is 2-1 against Top 5 Iowa. Iowa is Purdue's 3rd most common opponent all-time with 92 meetings, and the Hawkeyes have reached the AP Top 5 in 13 of their seasons, it is somewhat shocking that only 3 of those seasons have featured a matchup against unranked Purdue while in the Top 5. Still, Pete stands forever on guard to help parents avoid having to talk to their children about undefeated Iowa. Opponent Record vs Mean Score Mean Opp. Rank Fordham 0-3 1 - 17.667 3.667 Illinois 1-2 12.667 - 23 3.667 Iowa 2-1 19 - 11.333 4 Kansas State 1-0 37 - 34 4 Miami (Fl) 0-1 17 - 28 5 Michigan 2-9 12 - 27.909 3.455 Michigan State 3-3 15.667 - 22.667 1.667 Minnesota 1-2 11.5 - 27 2 Northwestern 0-1 8 - 23 5 Notre Dame 2-9 9.111 - 31.222 2.333 Ohio State 3-11 12.615 - 30 2.615 Stanford 1-0 26 - 14 3 Texas 0-1 26 - 34 5 USC 0-1 6 - 19 3 Wisconsin 0-1 20 - 38 5 Other Factors We have seen that it does not entirely matter what team the Boilermakers are playing, so are there other indicators that might suggest a Spoilermaker appearance is on the horizon? For this, we turn again to the inspiration to this research, Purdue having 9 wins against AP Top 2 teams. It turns out that an opponent’s rank is a great indicator of a potential Spoilermaker appearance. Of all ranks, by far and away the greatest success Purdue has had success against is the AP second ranked team, with an astonishing 5-6 record. That's right, if the unranked Boilermakers are on your schedule and you're ranked 2nd in the AP, there isnearly a 50% chance that the day will end in misery for you. Opponent Rank Record vs Mean Score Mean Opp Final Rank 1 4-7 10.667 - 27.667 2.889 2 5-6 19.727 - 21.272 5.1 3 2-13 10.867 - 23.733 6.667 4 1-10 7.455 - 32.636 7.091 5 4-8 14.5 - 23 15.25 Could the location of the game have an effect on whether the Spoilermakers come out to play? Turns out, if you are in the Top 5, you'll want to stay as far away from West Lafayette, IN as humanly possible. Unranked Purdue is 9-20 against Top 5 opponents at home while only 5-23 on the road. One must only think what mad experiments Pete is conducting in his secret lab underRoss-Ade Stadium for it to be the burial grounds to so many championship hopes. Unsurprisingly, if you notice that Purdue is moving the ball and scoring easily against you, that is a great indicator that you will be paid a visit by the Spoilermakers. Half of Purdue's upsets against the Top 5 come when the Boilermakers have scored over 21 points, and are 7-6 in such games. Obviously to paraphrase John Madden, teams that score more points will usually win more games, but if Purdue catches that Cradle of Quarterbacks magic, the college football world should be put on notice. Can the Spoilermakers strike twice in one season? Thus far in the history of the AP Poll, unranked Purdue has only struck the Top 5 once per season. Sometimes this can be explained away by Purdue getting a bump into the polls immediately following a Top 5 victory, but most of the time, Purdue Pete is satisfied by his earlier sacrifice, and lets his other potential victims go free. But that can always change. He is always watching , waiting for a moment to strike, ready to feast on his latest victim. Edit: I am wrong about this, in 1960 Purdue beat both #3 Ohio State and #1 Minnesota as an unranked team. Oddly enough, Minnesota finished with 2 losses that year and was still named AP National Champion. Polls! Thanks to/u/dwors025 for catching this. Conclusion So, what does this all mean? Can we predict when another Spoilermaker appearance will occur and prepare ourselves? From all of this, we know that if you areranked 2nd , headed to West Lafayette , your defense is suspect , and unranked Purdue has yet to knock off a Top 5 team , you are officially subject to a Spoilermaker Watch as conditions are favorable to quickly escalate to a Spoilermaker Warning and you should immediately seek shelter and prepare for the worst. So now you've lost to unranked Prude. Your shiny title hopes are down the drain and the season is lost, right? Well, turns out you've probably still got a very good football team. Only 3 times after losing to unranked Purdue as an AP Top 5 team has a team finished unranked. In fact, in 10 of the other 11 instances, the losing team finished in the Top 10. Chances are your team will still go to a very good bowl, and with the CFP expanding to 12 teams, your championship dreams may not be be dashed. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for the victorious Boilermakers. Historically, beating a Top 5 team has not been enough to springboard the team into turning around a season. After beating a Top 5 team, unranked Purdue teams have finished with a winning record less than half of all occurrences, and have only ended the season ranked 3 times. For now, Jeff Brohm's team is 4-2, ranked, and controls its own destiny in the Big Ten West. But even if further success is not to be, you can know that forone glorious Saturday , the Purdue Boilermakers were once again the center of the college football world. Congratulations, and Boiler Up. All Time Results Year Opponent Opp. Rank Location Outcome Score Record after Game Final Record Final Rank Final Opp. Record Final Opp. Rank 1936 Fordham 3 Away L 0-15 4-2 5-2-1 N/R 5-1-2 15 1937 Fordham 5 Away L 3-21 3-3 4-3-1 N/R 7-0-1 3 1940 Minnesota 1 Away L 6-33 2-5 2-6 N/R 8-0 1 1941 Fordham 3 Away L 0-17 2-3 2-5-1 N/R 8-1 6 1942 Ohio State 1 Away L 0-26 1-3 1-8 N/R 9-1 1 1946 Notre Dame 3 Away L 6-49 1-3 2-6-1 N/R 8-0-1 1 1947 Notre Dame 1 Home L 7-22 1-2 5-4 N/R 9-0 1 1947 Illinois 5 Home W 14-7 3-2 5-4 N/R 5-3-1 N/R 1949 Michigan 5 Away L 12-20 2-5 4-5 N/R 6-2-1 7 1949 Notre Dame 2 Home L 7-21 0-3 4-5 N/R 10-0 1 1950 Texas 5 Away L 26-34 0-1 2-7 N/R 9-2 3 1950 Notre Dame 1 Away W 28-14 1-1 2-7 NR 4-4-1 N/R 1953 Illinois 4 Away L 0-21 1-5 2-7 N/R 7-1-1 7 1953 Michigan State 2 Home W 6-0 1-4 2-7 N/R 9-1 3 1953 Notre Dame 1 Home L 7-37 0-2 2-7 N/R 9-0-1 2 1954 Ohio State 2 Home L 6-28 4-3-1 5-3 N/R 10-0 1 1955 Michigan State 4 Home L 0-27 3-3 5-3-1 N/R 9-1 2 1956 Michigan State 4 Away L 9-12 2-3 3-4-2 N/R 7-2 9 1957 Michigan State 1 Home W 20-13 1-3 5-4 N/R 8-1 3 1957 Minnesota 3 Away L 17-21 0-2 5-4 N/R 4-5 N/R 1958 Michigan State 5 Home W 14-6 3-1 6-1-2 13 3-5-1 N/R 1960 Ohio State 3 Home W 24-21 2-1-1 4-4-1 19 7-2 8 1960 Minnesota 1 Away W 23-14 3-4-1 4-4-1 19 8-2 1 1961 Iowa 5 Home W 9-0 3-2 6-3 N/R 5-4 N/R 1963 Illinois 2 Away L 24-41 3-4 5-4 N/R 8-1-1 3 1963 Wisconsin 5 Away L 20-38 1-2 5-4 N/R 5-4 N/R 1964 Michigan 5 Away W 21-20 3-1 6-3 N/R 9-1 4 1970 Ohio State 3 Home L 7-10 3-6 4-6 N/R 9-1 5 1970 Stanford 3 Away W 26-14 2-1 4-6 N/R 9-3 8 1971 Michigan 3 Home L 17-20 3-6 3-7 N/R 11-1 6 1971 Notre Dame 2 Home L 7-8 0-2 3-7 N/R 8-2 13 1972 Michigan 3 Away L 6-9 5-5 6-5 N/R 10-1 6 1973 Michigan 4 Home L 9-34 4-6 5-6 N/R 10-0-1 6 1974 Michigan 3 Away L 0-51 3-6-1 4-6-1 N/R 10-1 3 1974 Notre Dame 2 Away W 31-20 1-1-1 4-6-1 N/R 10-2 6 1975 Ohio State 1 Home L 6-35 1-6 4-7 N/R 11-1 4 1975 USC 3 Away L 6-19 0-2 4-7 N/R 8-4 17 1976 Michigan 1 Home W 16-14 4-5 5-6 N/R 10-2 3 1977 Ohio State 4 Away L 0-46 2-3 5-6 N/R 9-3 11 1983 Notre Dame 5 Home L 6-52 0-1 3-7-1 N/R 7-5 N/R 1984 Miami (FL) 5 Home L 17-28 1-1 7-5 N/R 8-5 18 1984 Ohio State 2 Home W 28-23 4-1 7-5 N/R 9-3 13 1985 Iowa 5 Home L 24-27 4-6 5-6 N/R 10-2 10 1986 Michigan 3 Home L 7-31 2-7 3-8 N/R 11-2 8 1989 Michigan 4 Away L 27-42 1-7 3-8 N/R 10-2 7 1989 Notre Dame 1 Home L 7-40 1-2 3-8 N/R 12-1 2 1990 Notre Dame 1 Away L 11-37 1-2 2-9 N/R 9-3 6 1991 Michigan 4 Away L 0-42 3-5 4-7 N/R 10-2 6 1992 Michigan 3 Home L 17-24 3-4 4-7 N/R 9-0-3 5 1993 Notre Dame 4 Home L 0-17 1-2 1-10 N/R 11-1 2 1993 Ohio State 3 Home L 24-45 1-6 1-10 N/R 10-1-1 11 1994 Northwestern 5 Home L 8-23 3-6-1 4-6-1 N/R 10-2 8 1994 Ohio State 4 Away L 0-28 2-4-1 4-6-1 N/R 11-2 6 1996 Ohio State 2 Away L 14-42 2-5 3-8 N/R 11-1 2 1998 Kansas State 4 Neutral W 37-34 9-4 9-4 24 11-2 10 2002 Ohio State 3 Home L 6-10 4-6 7-6 N/R 13-0 1 2013 Ohio State 4 Home L 0-56 1-7 1-11 N/R 12-2 12 2015 Michigan State 2 Away L 21-24 1-4 2-10 N/R 12-2 6 2018 Ohio State 2 Home W 49-20 4-3 6-7 N/R 13-1 3 2021 Iowa 2 Away W 24-7 4-2 TBD TBD TBD TBD