WEST LAFAYETTE – Inside the compact concrete confines of the visiting locker room at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, the three major participants in the future of the Indiana football program stood.
Two were in the back, straining to hear the words of the third amidst the blaring rap music surrounding them.
The makeshift postgame media environment after Indiana's (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) 44-41 double-overtime win at Purdue (4-8, 3-6) in this year's Old Oaken Bucket game brought together head coach Tom Allen, athletic director Fred Glass and school president Michael McRobbie.
With Glass and McRobbie watching, and his hoarse voice raised to a near scream, Allen found the words to thank them for their part in creating the occasion.
“Taking a chance on a small-town kid from this great state of Indiana,” Allen said as his voice cracked with emotion. “Not many men would have done that. Living the dream has been pretty awesome.”
The win on a sopping wet afternoon traversed the full range of football emotions for three, who have now played a collective part in Indiana's first Old Oaken Bucket win since 2016 and the first eight-win season since 1993.
Allen's approach to his head coaching tenure, which began in December 2016, mirrored the uncertainty of the outcome Saturday.
A 28-10 lead late in the third quarter for Indiana came and went.
Purdue's furious comeback tied the game at 31 entering overtime, a recovery fueled by three missed field goals by Indiana fifth-year kicker Logan Justus (who was replaced in the fourth quarter by redshirt freshman Charles Campbell, who made his only attempt).
And Indiana's beleaguered defense, which gave up nearly 600 yards of offense to the Boilermakers and more than 400 passing yards to former walk-on quarterback Aidan O'Connell (28 of 49, 408 yards, three TDs and one interception), held Purdue to a field goal on the opening possession of double overtime.
The stop allowed Hoosiers quarterback Peyton Ramsey to engineer a game-winning drive reminiscent of his play over the last three seasons in Bloomington.
A checkdown pass and a completion over the middle were followed by a quarterback sneak into the endzone, with backup running back Ahrod Lloyd pushing him from behind into the end zone.
“Peyton is a dog man, I give him all the credit,” said wide receiver Whop Philyor, who had eight catches, 138 yards and two receiving touchdowns. “Without Peyton we wouldn't be where we're at right now. That boy is tough, he's tough as nails.”
Ramsey, who was 23-of-39 passing for 337 yards and ran 19 times for 42 yards, was sacked five times and took countless more hits. As he has done so often in his career, Ramsey recovered, accounting for five of the six Indiana touchdowns.
“Those are the kind of things you dream about, making big plays in big games,” Ramsey said. “Obviously it's different than the other wins that we've had ... it's the Bucket game.”
Even as the Indiana lead dwindled in the second half, Philyor said the demeanor of the team didn't change.
“We didn't blink, that's our vibe. We don't blink,” he said.
As the Hoosiers celebrated postgame, Philyor found himself perched atop the back of Allen, as his head coach gave him a brief piggyback ride as the rest of the Hoosers rushed to the end zone to celebrate with Ramsey and grab a hold of the Bucket, an item Phiylor said would be in Bloomington “probably for the rest of time.”
“I love this place,” Allen said plainly. “I love this university, I love my state, I love the players. I work my tail off to be successful here.”
Notes: Purdue's Zander Horvath and Indiana's Sampson James both delivered with the best games of their careers. Horvath ran 23 times for 164 yards and two scores, becoming the Boilermakers' only 100-yard rusher in 2019. He also lost one fumble. ... Purdue's David Bell had nine catches for 136 yards and one score. Brycen Hopkins caught eight passes for 142 yards and two TDs. ... The Bucket Game has been decided in overtime twice, both at West Lafayette and the Hoosiers won both times.