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Published: Sunday, 10/12/2008

Tiller not shedding tear for last trip to Columbus


Ohio State defensive tackle Nader Abdallah, left, celebrates his sack of the Purdue quarterback in the fourth quarter.
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<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/photo.gif> <font color=red><b>VIEW</font color=red></b>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20081012&Kategori=SPORTS16&Lopenr=101209997&Ref=PH" target="_blank "><b> OSU - Purdue </b></a> photos
Ohio State defensive tackle Nader Abdallah, left, celebrates his sack of the Purdue quarterback in the fourth quarter. <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/graphics/icons/photo.gif> <font color=red><b>VIEW</font color=red></b>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20081012&Kategori=SPORTS16&Lopenr=101209997&Ref=PH" target="_blank "><b> OSU - Purdue </b></a> photos
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COLUMBUS - There's no farewell tour for Joe Tiller, no emotional good-byes, no gifts of rocking chairs and lap blankets. In his final season before retirement, the Purdue head coach is just going to work and trying to win football games.

Tiller, the Toledo native and Rogers High graduate, made his final visit to Ohio Stadium yesterday, but he wanted nothing to do with any syrupy soliloquies. Tiller insisted that the full focus of attention center on his team playing the 12th-ranked Buckeyes.

"Knowing I'm from Ohio, there's no sentimental special feeling for me going to Ohio State's stadium to play, even though it's my last time there," Tiller said.

The Boilermakers (2-4, 0-2) came up on the lean side of 16-3 score in Tiller's final game here, but he took some solace from the way the battle was waged.

"There was a high energy and a high intensity level. We were well-prepared and played well," Tiller said. "We played as well as we could. They were strong and they have a lot of speed. They have a physical secondary and have the most athletic linebackers who can run."

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Tiller, who became Purdue's all-time winningest coach earlier this season, is a guy he will miss playing against.

"Joe Tiller coming into Ohio Stadium for the last time, and Joe's an Ohio native, and the winningest coach in the history of Purdue, and just one of the great guys to ever coach the game," Tressel said. "Ten of the last 11 years he's taken the Boilermakers to a bowl game, and he's just done extraordinary things there."

Former Ohio State coach John Cooper said Tiller's impact at Purdue likely won't be fully understood for a while. Tiller is credited with bringing the spread offense to the Big Ten.

"Leave football out of it, and Joe Tiller's just a great guy," Cooper said. "People over there will really appreciate Joe Tiller and what he's meant to Purdue football two or three years after he is gone."

In the 2002 season, Tiller led Purdue to its first Big Ten championship since 1967 and a Rose Bowl bid, sharing the conference title with Michigan and Northwestern. A 5-6 record in 2005 marked Tiller's only season at Purdue without a winning mark, or a bowl bid.

Tiller, who is 85-58 at Purdue after a successful six-year stint as head coach at Wyoming, beat the Buckeyes 24-17 in the 2004 season for the 100th win of his career.

FACING FRUSTRATION: Ohio State tight end Jake Ballard said the Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0) seemed to get bogged down every time they got into the Purdue end of the field, and that sluggishness resulted in the zero touchdown performance. Ohio State had just 14 first downs, and only 222 yards of offense.

"We'd get close to the red zone, and then we'd relax too much so we don't make it [in], and then when we don't make it we'd get frustrated, and it's downhill from there," Ballard said. "Once we get there, we need to put out the effort that we show during the drive before we're in the red zone."

CROWD CONTROL: Ohio State and Purdue played in front of an announced crowd of 105,378 - giving the Buckeyes 46 straight games in Ohio Stadium with crowds in excess of 100,000.

BUCKEYE BITS: Senior linebacker James Laurinaitis led the Ohio State defense with 10 tackles. He has 13 career games with 10 or more tackles. ... Junior defensive end Lawrence Wilson, who had a fumble recovery in the first quarter, injured his knee later in the game. Wilson will undergo an MRI today, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. ... When Ohio State freshman Etienne Sabino took a blocked punt back for the game's only touchdown yesterday, it was Ohio State's first touchdown on a blocked punt since A.J. Hawk in 2005 against Northwestern.

- Matt Markey



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