Game 48: Memphis Tigers @ SMU Mustangs


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GAME #49
Saturday, September 7, 2019

Vanderbilt Commodores: 0-1
@ Purdue Boilermakers: 0-1

Ross-Ade Stadium
West Lafayette, Indiana


42
Trip Dates 9/5/2019 – 9/8/2019
School Purdue University
Visiting Team Vanderbilt Commodores
Pre-game Record: 0-1
Home Team Purdue Boilermakers
Pre-game Record: 0-1
Game Time (ET) 12:00 PM Eastern
Weather 69 & Partly Cloudy
Attendees Jarrett, Al, & Debra
Jarrett’s Pick Vanderbilt Commodores
(31 and 17 record)
Al’s Pick Purdue Boilermakers
(25 and 23 record)
Attendance 50,506
Capacity 60,716
TV BTN
Length of Game 3:30
Seat Location 1Q: Goal Line around 40th row
Rest of the game: Press Box
Miles Traveled 1,581
Photo Album Click here for the Purdue Photo Album

Travel
It was an unusual travel schedule for the Quest on the initial 2019 trip. For whatever reason, I had us booked on a Thursday night departure instead of an early morning Friday flight. There must have been slim pickings to Indianapolis Friday morning. In any event, as we were leaving from JFK and returning to LaGuardia (I do that sometimes), driving to the airport was not an option. So instead of Uber/Lyft, I decided to head out via LIRR to the AirTrain. Not even when I work from home for the day, can I avoid the dreaded LIRR. But I thought this would be a better, faster, cheaper option. And it was. Beth even took time from her busy life of leisure to drive me to Hicksville. Despite the obvious sarcasm of the previous sentence, Beth would like to note for the record, that she resents the comment. I know I messed up her day even asking for the ride, so thanks Beth. The LIRR / AirTrain combo was surprisingly efficient and uneventful. This would be a great option on a regular basis if it operated to LaGuardia as well. Needless to say the week after this trip it broke down.

After arriving at JFK Terminal 4, I headed for the Wingtips lounge to wait for the arrival of Al and a guest quester. The first Quest trip of 2019 will have the second appearance of Debra on a Quest trip. Welcome Debra, you really class up the Quest joint, at least until you have a drink in you and then all hell breaks loose. Just kidding (can you see the eye roll or just feel it).

Anyway, the lounge was full. This is my first experience with a full lounge which I understand is becoming quite the problem on the Priority Pass platform. I was not happy, but what are you going to do. There are just too many people as this terminal is just too big. While awaiting the arrival of Al and Debra and travelling in my customary Gator shirt, I was hit with a “Go Gators”. I responded with a “Go Gators”. And now a note to my daughter who is a freshman at the (not The) University of Alabama…that is how that works. When someone says Roll Tide, you say Roll Tide back. When you see an Alabama shirt or other gear, you say Roll Tide. This is how those things go. You do not stare blindly like you have no idea what is going on. Call it school spirit, community, or whatever. It is just what you do. Period. Or is it just different being a Gator? Maybe Gators are more special than even I think that we are. That must be it! Beth adds an emphatic “Nope!”

Anyway, Al and Debra arrived and we went off to the Delta club. It was a nice club and quite large. It had an excellent food and beverage selection. What it did not have was working power outlets. It had many outlets, they just did not work. Neither the chair outlets nor the table outlets had juice. Note to the people next to us at the table, you always check to ensure your devices are charging. When you have 10 things plugged in, it really does suck when we ask how you are getting power for you to realize that you aren’t and nothing has been charging for a long period of time.

After procuring some food and especially drink, Debra was given her first task. Since we would be dragging her to a steakhouse (Debra is vegetarian) on Saturday night, she would be allowed to pick the restaurant for tonight upon arrival into Indianapolis and could choose a vegetarian place if so desired. It was pointed out that this comes with a bit of pressure as Target has been banned from choosing restaurants and hotels for making poor choices. But we did share that those choices were incredibly poor and that any reasonable person not only would have banned him, but would have brought up drawn and quartering. The drinks were flowing and the restaurant reviews were popping. And these words were actually uttered by Debra, “I can’t read math”. Yes, while reading restaurant reviews. Imagine what she would have said when faced with actual math. The final verdict was a mexican restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. I could not resist pointing out that mexican is not vegetarian, but we had a final answer. Also decided during the restaurant research is that Beth should come on these trips and serve as official trip secretary and documentarian (is that really a word). This would entail taking notes and writing these trip reports. And in exchange, Beth would get to travel all around the country, see some great football games (and some lousy ones), and I will quintuple her salary of her current job as editor. What do you say Beth? Beth responds, “Not worth the money, sorry!”

At the appointed time, we headed out to the last gate of Terminal 4, Gate B55. The flight took off and landed without issue. Always a good thing. We picked up the rental car and headed off to the restaurant. On the way, Al and I realized we have been to Indianapolis on the Quest before. Al scrambled to figure out which trip and this led to many searches of the college football quest website. Needless to say, we went off on many tangents. Also needless to say, Debra found it quite amusing that we had no recollection of being there before until we recognized some of the streets and sights. I explained that Beth already thinks I am losing my mind and this is just further evidence of that. But this time I was not alone. A definitive “Yes” to this from Beth.

Dinner
We arrived at Nada, Debra’s choice for dinner. I took 4 years of high school Spanish and that tells me that the name of this place means nothing. So optimism was not high. But as the restaurant was in the middle of downtown and we were able to find a parking spot directly in front, maybe there was optimism to be had. The waitress greeted us and asked us if this was our first time there and if it was a special occasion. Al had gone to the bathroom, so I could not let that opportunity go. Today became Al’s birthday. We all ordered a variation of vegetarian tacos. For dessert, they brought churros with a candle in it and we all sang to Al. That will teach you to choose your bathroom breaks more carefully in the future. It was unfortunate that it was late and the place was empty. In fact, I think they were stacking chairs.

The meal was quite good and Debra made a good choice. Sorry Target, you are still the only one banned. For some irrational reason, Debra treated the Quest to dinner, as she explained that she was a guest or something. Unnecessary, but thank you. And I really do mean that, because without you treating us to dinner, I would not have heard the line, “Quiet, I have to do math now” when looking at the check. It would have been fun to be in your high school math classes.

After dinner, we headed off to the hotel for bed. The plan was to stay just outside Indianapolis and make the drive to West Lafayette in the morning. So it was a short drive and then sleep.

Friday Morning
We awoke and had a very good breakfast. The Hampton Inn breakfast had many options and was very good. But picking up right where we left off from the day before, the conversation, as it is very apt to do on these trips, was a bit odd. For some reason, I learned that Indiana has no state food and is not known to have a culinary identity. I temporarily learned what the Indiana state flower, fruit, bird, insect, and laundry detergent is. I say temporarily because thank god I did not retain any of that information. This was a very large rabbit hole and is the downside of a technology age. Thank you Debra for those 20 minutes I will not be able to get back. And by the way, Al and Debra need to watch the show Unreal.

Purdue Campus
We headed out for the hour long drive to Purdue. It was one of the most boring drives we have done on the Quest, and we have done some boring ones. But at least it was only an hour. There was absolutely nothing to see on the side of the road and even nothing to make fun of, as Jarrett stated in the car several times “this is some view” on i65North. Just vast amounts of empty space. Somehow on the drive, Debra did manage to say that maybe she and Beth would go on one of the trips for us. I have no recollection of how this even came up. I just remember the 10 minutes of uncontrollable laughter afterwards. Beth quips that she is laughing as well. I had to explain to her that there was no way Beth would ever do that and that you would need to eliminate the football game and the travel to get Beth to go. Maybe, Beth would go on the Quest trips to California or Hawaii. Maybe. And we have already been to California with no interest yet. Debra is so funny. Al adds that the comment came up as we discussed our busy schedules and in some strange event that we couldn’t go, or one of us couldn’t make it to a game (which is unlikely), that she suggested as a fill in team “her and Beth could go for us”. I would question who you let in the car Jarrett. Beth adds that Debra clearly doesn’t know her too well and she would need a real big raise!

We arrive at Purdue and head to the bookstore for the usual shopping trip. It was an off campus bookstore and it was a complete miss. But Al had done the research on the drive and knew there was another bookstore on the opposite side of campus. So we head out on foot and Al’s phone starts buzzing and alarms start going off. That means there is a Starbucks nearby. Therefore, we head into the student union so Al can get his chai tea. While awaiting Al and his Starbucks chai tea, Debra disappears to the restroom with the student newspaper. When she comes back (before Al does), she has all kinds of information and indicated that she lost herself in the bathroom while reading the newspaper. This definitely falls into the category of “things that make you go hmmm.” Anyway, Al eventually returns with his tea, and off we go.

We set out on a self guided tour of Purdue University. Very striking was that this was a very active campus. On a Friday at 10:30am, we saw a lot of students and a buzz of activity. I am willing to make a wager (FYI – those are words I have never said before) that these students must be smart and study. Go Purdue.

Well, we end up on the other side of campus and the other bookstore. Much better. Much more damage was done here. There were plenty of Al shirts, but alas, there were no Purdue University School of Cat Videos alumni or parent shirts. But Al’s kids can still attend here for 75k a year to make cat videos. What you do with that other than become a youtube star is anyone’s guess, but good luck with that Al.

More walking around or as a neutral observer would call it, wandering aimlessly. We did pass the tiny homes display being built. It’s a great idea for tailgating, but “if I had to live in one of these I would put a bullet in my head.” I need my space.

Moving on quickly as I am prone to do and having nothing to do with my previous statement on wagering, is Indiana a mobile sports betting state? Alas, it is not.

Debra put her restaurant picking skills to use and found lunch at Lemongrass. But it was not the stand alone place we expected, but part of the food court in the student union. That was not a pleasant surprise, plus the soda fountain was not working.

And by the way, why does the Purdue student union have a Fidelity brokerage center in it? This student body is on a different level both academically and financially.

Facilities Tour
After lunch, it was time to meet up with Robert with Purdue athletics whose was gracious enough to provide us with a tour of the Purdue facilities. First stop was the aquatics center. The second stop was the football stadium. Robert shared the upcoming plans for the end zone scoreboard and the recent additions and upgrades. We then headed off for the club levels and press levels. The club level was all set for the team dinner later in the evening. Let’s just leave it at, it was a nice menu.

After the stadium, it was off to the football facility, which housed locker rooms, offices, indoor practice, etc. There was quite an impressive lobby which housed the various game trophies (oak buckets, cannons, etc.) as well as other trophies, BigTen conference trophies, the Maxwell Award (Nation’s Outstanding Player) given to Drew Brees and the Cradle of Quarterbacks display.

Then it was onto Mackey Arena and Gene Keady Court, home of Purdue basketball. On the way, we stopped by the John Wooden statue. It was news to me that John Wooden played basketball at Purdue. But he did and there is a statue to prove it. Robert indicated just how impressed he was with the atmosphere inside Mackey for basketball indicating that it was more impressive than some of the blue blood programs he has been to. He named names but I will protect him and not name them here, but those programs know who they are (no they don’t nor do they care). We were also able to see a John Wooden game worn jersey that Purdue had just acquired. Is is actually made from wool?

After basketball, we went to the baseball stadium and the team was actually in the middle of practice. The baseball stadium was in the middle of a complex that housed baseball, softball, soccer, and maybe something else which I forget and am too lazy to look up. It was a nice complex that was built consistently with the same look. It looked nice. Other schools, please take note.

After almost flipping the golf cart on a hill beyond the softball field, Robert took us back and our tour was over. He gave us some dinner recommendations, despite West Lafayette not being known for its culinary feats which matches with what Debra had discovered at breakfast.

We Should Have Listened
So, after a bit of R&R at the hotel, we head out for dinner at Bruno’s. Why Bruno’s? One, it was a place that Robert mentioned, then after finding out we were from New York, said we should not go because it was pizza and Italian and we were from NY. Second, Al found out that Drew Brees used to go here when he had no money and was a student at Purdue. Well, from the title of the section of this trip report, you can see where this goes. Not good. Debra and Al both got pizza. But Al chickened out and did not get the peanut butter and chocolate chip pizza which is what they are known for. The consensus was edible. I opted for the veal schnitzel. It was edible. It came with a side dish that Debra just had to ask the wait staff what it was. And you know my mantra…if you have to ask, you do not want to know. The answer was that it was dumplings. That was a fine answer and made sense. And again, edible. This was all on us. This squarely fell into the bad decision category. It was yet another bad decision by Target.

But dinner was quite amusing.
         Al: Is this heaven?
         Jarrett: No it’s Iowa. Hey Debra, what movie?
         Debra: Raising Arizona
         Al & Jarrett: Inaudible because laughing too hard.
The point is, Debra’s drinking limit is a glass and a half.

Purdue Women’s Soccer
After dinner, we head over to the Purdue versus South Carolina women’s soccer match. There is not much to say about the match except that it was quite crowded. It looked to me like a full house. #20 on Purdue really annoyed Al and that does take a lot to accomplish. I will also point out that when one of us went to the bathroom, the other two noted that they came back. I guess it was scary walking alone there.

SC won 2-0, but Purdue was in it until late in the match. And based on my excellent soccer knowledge, the ref had no clue what he was doing. Not biased just bad. Al did raise an interesting point on the way back to the hotel…have we ever been on a trip where the home team did not win at least one game when we saw more than just a football game. That would be an interesting thing for our intern to research or aspiring guesters.

Anyway, it was off to the hotel and to sleep.

Breakfast
It was an early wake up on Saturday. First, the game was at noon. Second, we heard about this tradition at Purdue called The Breakfast Club and we had to check that out. Much to my chagrin, the name The Breakfast Club had nothing to do with the 80’s movie of the same name.

But first, there was breakfast at the hotel. Normally, these do not even warrant a mention in the trip reports. But for the second day in a row, Debra has brought life to something that normally only Target does. Breakfast quote of the day from Debra that can serve as your wake up mantra, “Even mimosas at 9am are too early for me.” Now I do not want you to get the wrong idea and panic, this would change soon. So you can rest easy.

As a side note, do I make fun of our guests too much? I think I make fun of myself and Al a lot, but I just want to make sure I am not overdoing it. But I do think our guests make it soooo easy. Either that, or these trip situations just lend themselves to us all doing stupid riduculous things that it makes it easy. And I take bad notes and have a bad memory. Beth stresses “You sure do!” So these reports only include about half of it. Scary! Beth adds that half of it is enough and this is a blessing in disguise.

The Breakfast Club
Off to campus to check out The Breakfast Club. I guess I should explain what this is. I will explain this as I understand it and if any experts out there would like to further enlighten me, please feel free. This is a football season tradition where on the days of home football games, students and alumni (although it is mostly students) gather at the bars just off campus very early in the morning, most dressed in costumes, and party / tailgate. I would surmise that this came about because Purdue only recently got permanent lighting at the stadium, so was used to playing very early in the day, so tailgating used to start very early. The Breakfast Club starts early as most bars open around 6am. Thus, it was something we had to check out.

We were not going to do the 6am thing, but we got to Harry’s at around 9am. And there were lines out the door of most bars we could see and there were many students in costumes. Some were very good and others were barely worth the effort, but this was interesting to say the least. Debra had picked out a bar called the Neon Cactus for us to go to. She did not tell us that it was down this huge hill, across a road and parking lot, and 5 miles away. But we did get there eventually and passed lots of kids in costumes and various stages of inebriation. 9AM.

As an aside, I will say that I still have no idea what war that guy was dressed for and if he was a cop or just a kid in a costume. And quite frankly, I do not know which answer would scare me more. You just had to see this as I’m not sure what type of war he is going to fight.

I will say that Debra did make a good choice. So, since I have spent most of this trip report making fun of her, I will give her credit that most of her choices on this trip were quite good. She is welcome to continue to make decisions, unlike other guesters who have 3 guys stay at a B&B.

The Neon Cactus was alive. You would not know if you were in West Lafayette, IN at 9am or Manhattan at 11pm on a Saturday, with the exception of the costumes. I will beat you to the punch, yes we did participate. We all had one drink and one shot. I will say that 9:15am is probably the earliest I have ever had a drink. Can you say the same? I will say that watching this place at this time was quite enjoyable and there was one other table of over age 30 people in the place, so it was not just us, but it was mostly us. A great scene. Just remember “ a little is never just a little, it is always a lot.”

We did eventually have to leave. And upon heading out, we realized that the Neon Cactus had a piano bar that was packed. It really sucked that we did not see this before. We were all set for the trek back up the hill but there was a free shuttle bus back to Harry’s. Nice!

I will close this section by saying, The Breakfast Club is one of the better traditions we have come across. Although now as the parent of a college student, this might not be the best thing for me to say. All things in moderation.

Pre Game
Believe it or not, we did arrive at the stadium with plenty of time to spare. Al’s first order of business was to head over to Slater hill to watch the band perform its pregame pep performance. You have not lived if you have not watched Al watch a band performance. I was finally able to pry him away so that we could head inside and scout the teams.

The Quest team headed down to field level so that we could scout it out and make our picks. There is no question that Purdue looked bigger and stronger. The smart pick was Purdue. I picked Vanderbilt. Al and Debra picked Purdue. Either I would be extending my lead or Al would close the gap.

The Game
Purdue won the coin flip and deferred, so Vandy received the kickoff. Vandy 3 and out. Purdue 3 and out. Vandy 3 and out. Purdue 3 and out. This is exciting but the good news is only 5 minutes had been played. Vandy would then strike first with a 6 play 68 yard touchdown, the key play being a 49 yard pass down to the Purdue 4 yard line. 7-0 Vandy. It took 2:30 for Purdue to tie up at 7, with a 7 play 71 yard drive. At the end of the 1Q, it was 7-7.

Vandy would punt on its next drive. Purdue took over on its own 2 yard line and proceeded to drive the ball 75 yards in 13 plays, but would miss the 42 yard field goal. Vandy 3 and out. 4 plays later, Purdue was in the end zone and had itself a 14-7 lead. Vandy took the kickoff and drove to the Purdue 32 yard line. Then after a holding call and an unsportsmanlike personal foul, were back to their own 43. Even after a few more Vandy false starts, Vandy was still able to manage a field goal. 14-10 Purdue. Purdue took over with 53 seconds left in the half. Now came a play that I still do not understand. On first down, Purdue lost a few yards running the ball but was called for illegal motion. Vandy accepted the penalty. Why? Are you trying to get the ball back? Purdue lost yards. 2nd and 12 in this situation is better than 1st and 15. It seemed to me they could have been calling this a dead ball penalty, but the clock was running so that could not have been it. Seems like a coaching error. Especially since Vandy called timeout later in the possession.

My first half assessment was that Vandy could not get out of its own way. Purdue was the better team thus far, but Vandy was in it and shooting itself in the foot. Vandy committed 8 penalties for 75 yards, in the first half. Vandy actually outgained Purdue 246 to 184 in the half.

Purdue took the opening possession of the 3Q and the turning point of the game was right here. On 1st and 10 from the 50, Sindelar threw a pass that should have been picked off, but instead it goes for a 50 yard TD. 21-10 Purdue. In my view, this ended any hopes of Vanderbilt winning the game. The teams then traded interceptions. Then after a Vandy punt, Purdue marched 85 yards for a 28-10 lead and that is how the 3Q would end.

 

Vandy opened the 4Q with some signs of life and a 5 play drive for a TD. Now someone will need to explain this Coach Mason decision to me. Down 28-16 with 12 minutes left, he goes for 2. How do you not kick the extra point and go down 11? In what world is this risk here of being down 12 worth trying to get the game to 10 points. I do not get this. There is no scenario where this makes sense. If there is and someone knows it, please let me know. Anyway, Purdue makes it irrelevant, by marching 75 yards for a 35-16 lead. Vandy is ever persistent, as they complete a 75 yard pass on the very next play to cut the lead to 35-24 with 9 minutes left. Purdue smacks that hope down with a 95 yard drive, 42-24, which is how the game would end. And Al gains a game on Jarrett. Boo!

Post Game
After the game, we hung out for a bit, but then headed out. Saturday night we would be spending in Indianapolis. I had done some pre trip research and had actually made plans. So it was off to Indy on that very interesting drive between West Lafayette and Indianapolis. We arrived at our hotel downtown, Hyatt House/Place, and checked in.

This was still Saturday, so college football was on, and before I knew it, the Gators were on. Al managed to pry me away, to the patio bar of the hotel. We got the Gator game on the tv and a round of drinks. This was a great spot. The weather was good, it was right across the street from Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the Indiana Pacers), and had a good view of downtown. Debra had her one drink and she was good to go. But time did come for us to have to go.

St. Elmo Steakhouse
We had dinner reservations at St. Elmo steakhouse. This is a well known steakhouse in Indianapolis that has been on my list for a long time. So, when the opportunity presented itself for us to have dinner there, I seized it. I did not know at the time that Al would be bringing a vegetarian guester along, but she was a good sport.

We arrived at St. Elmo at our reservation time and did have a small wait, but it was not long before we were seated. Al picked out the wine and our dinner order was in.

First up, was the world famous St. Elmo shrimp cocktail. Our waiter had strongly steered us in this direction, indicating that they make their own horseradish and that it is very strong. Liking very spicy things, it did not take much to convince me. This dish was definitely the star of the evening. And it was all the sauce. The horseradish was very spicy, but it was not just spice, it had a lot of flavor. Very good.

The steaks arrived along with the sides. And let me just clear up here that Debra, like a good vegetarian, did not get steak. She ordered a salad and soup, I think. For purposes of this report, her dinner does not count. It’s like going to a Brazilian rodizio place and ordering the fish. The verdict on St. Elmo…good not great. It certainly was a good steak. But St. Elmo is not in the elite category and certainly not worth the price. And my favorite side dish, creamed spinach, was average at best. So, I am glad we went, but it was a once only stop. We can now say that we have been, but that it is not worth going back.

Howl at the Moon
Our next stop is Howl at the Moon. I thought this was a dueling pianos place. Turns out that was not quite right. It was similar to dueling pianos but not quite. It’s a bit tough to describe, but take dueling pianos and add more instruments (like a band), a bit more upbeat, and a more rowdy crowd with a party like vibe. It had the same sing-a-long mood just a bit more rowdy and more pop oriented.

Howl at the Moon is a chain and has a lot of potential. This particular location seemed challenged in a few areas. The musicians were quite talented as they all played multiple instruments and kept the party going non stop. But all the songs sounded the same. It was hard to distinguish song from song and that’s not good. It always took me 30 seconds to figure out what song they were playing.

But we were here to have a good time and the venue was certainly conducive to doing that. We began with shots and then the drinks were flowing and Al was requesting song after song. Even the ones Debra wanted that there was no chance they would know how to play. Repeatedly. But Debra was “in a good mood”. We are going to leave a lot of details out of this part of the trip report mainly because Debra has parents whom I have not met yet and whom Al wants to still like him. But I will just say there was a brief conversation about Burning Man, to which I added “there are not enough drugs to make me go there and do that.” Al has pointed out that drugs are banned from Burning Man, go figure.

I will just end Saturday by pointing out that our first drink was at 9:15am. Our last drink at Howl at the Moon was at 2am. That is quite the day. God bless and god help our livers. Reservations for future Quest trips are now being accepted at al@collegefootballquest.com.

Al wants to conclude this section by challenging me to be prepared to make my best argument that Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond and one in the same.

Sunday Travel
Given the events of the night before, it was a rapid departure from the hotel and off to the airport. We dropped the rental car and headed inside. After a brief debate with a local police officer about the merits of the BigTen versus SEC (I love travelling in Florida gear), Debra found a spot for breakfast. We quickly got into a game of name that artist with the music playing over the speakers. All I will say to Al is that Five Young Cannibals is not the same thing as Fine Young Cannibals no matter what you say. I declare myself and Debra the winner or more precisely and simply, Al loses. BTW Debra, “there is really no beach here.” Yes that is correct, because we are in the middle of the country.

The flight back to LaGuardia, other than the fact that it was to LaGuardia, was uneventful. We hopped into Uber/Lyft and headed home.

Yeah, I certainly see Debra and Beth doing this on their own. Al agrees, and if that ever happens, it would be like an episode of “90 Day Finance: The Other Way” except it would be called “3 Days The Other Way, or some way, or who knows which way we are going, oh wait, why are we at a football game?”

Postscript
Postscript will be added after the season.


Photo Gallery
For our Purdue photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.

Game 48: Memphis Tigers @ SMU Mustangs



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