WEST LAFAYETTE — It was only one game, but the long-suffering Purdue football program may have recaptured the attention of its fan base on Saturday night with an enthusiastic effort in a 35-28 loss to No. 16 Louisville and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
While Jackson produced 485 yards of total offense and passed for two touchdowns in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, the four-touchdown underdog Boilermakers led 28-25 in the fourth quarter before Louisville scored the game's final 10 points.
The challenge now for first-year Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is to build on that passion on Friday night in the Boilermakers' home opener against Ohio University, which opened with a 59-0 victory against Hampton.
Purdue was 9-39 in the past four seasons under former coach Darrell Hazell and 22-28 from 2009 through 2012 for Danny Hope. During the Hazell years, Purdue frequently played without enthusiasm and inspired effort.
Brohm's task took a turn in the right direction against a highly skilled Louisville team.
"It's what we talked about all summer and all fall camp, and we got it the first game," Brohm said Monday. "Because of it, we were in the game until the end. Without question, we're going to have to do the same thing this week.
"If just one of our players doesn't think that is the case, we are going to get beat. It has to be a priority. As coaches and players, we have to keep the same intensity and go into the game with the same preparation and will to win."
Without three second-half turnovers, including an interception that was returned 61 yards for a touchdown, Purdue, according to Brohm, played well enough to beat the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Boilermaker freshman wide receiver Jackson Anthrop, who made seven catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns, said this Purdue team is eager to erase the reputation for a lack of sustained effort that the program has carried for eight seasons.
"Our coaches put us in a good situation," Anthrop said. "They want us to succeed, and (quarterbacks) Elijah Sindelar and David Blough were throwing great balls."
Anthrop, who grew up in West Lafayette and whose older brother Danny also was a Boilermaker wide receiver, understands there are doubters among the Purdue fan base. He wants to take another step in the right direction against Ohio University.
"There's always going to be those people out there, but you've just got to prove yourself each and every day," Anthrop said.
Brohm wants an improved effort to bring more fans back to Ross-Ade Stadium, which has a capacity of 57,236. Purdue's final two home games this past season attracted 30,465 and 30,548, respectively.
"That's the challenge, but that's what we've talked about," Brohm said. "And really, (effort) is what I stress every game. Really for us, it's a one-game season every single time we step onto the field. We're not worried about anything else but that. We try to win the game against the opponent we're getting ready to play, and when it's over, win or lose, learn from it, try to get better, and come out and win the next one.
"We're not anywhere close to overlooking anybody and just stepping on the field and it's going to work. We have to show up ready to play, compete, fight, battle, and it's got to be visible to the fans, which, I was proud of that aspect."
Purdue is 7-0 all-time against Ohio University and has outscored the Bobcats 220-26.