Purdue's Drew Brees sets NCAA passing record in loss at Wisconsin
Any quarterback on any level would love to post the numbers Drew Brees posted on Oct. 10, 1998.
Well, all of them but one.
Brees, at the time Purdue's quarterback, completed 55 of 83 passes against Wisconsin on that day -- the 83 was a NCAA single-game record for attempts -- totaling 494 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Wisconsin on homecoming day at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Boilermakers lost that game 31-24. The game featured a couple of interesting stat points.
Consider that Purdue had more than twice the number of first downs that Wisconsin had (33 to 14). Of those 33, 26 came from the pass. Brees did not connect on any pass longer than 21 yards, yet two receivers caught more than 100 yards worth of passes. Lane had 178 yards receiving and Chris Daniels had 131.
Neither of them caught the 21-yard pass. That would be Issac Jones, who caught seven passes that night for 67 yards.
Brees, a sophomore at the time, was intercepted four times, twice in the Wisconsin end zone and once that resulted in a 52-yard touchdown return by Jamar Fletcher.
Still, Brees kept throwing, even hitting Chris Daniels for a two-yard TD pass with 22 seconds left in the game.
Brees told reporters after the game that he could have thrown more passes.
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Purdue led the game only once -- with less than 10 minutes gone in the first quarter when Travis Dorsch hit a 45-yard field goal to give the Boilermakers a 3-0 advantage. Wisconsin took the lead back 1:24 of game time later when Mike Samuel ran it in from nine yards out to make the score 7-3.
Brees told the Chicago Tribune that despite his gaudy numbers, his performance was far from impressive.
"I don't care about records as long as we're winning, but we didn't do that," Brees said. "There were too many turnovers from the quarterback position."
The win was big for Wisconsin. It took the Badgers to 6-0 and moved them up to No. 9 in the following AP poll. The Badgers finished the season 10-1 and won the Rose Bowl, beating UCLA 38-31.
In a two-week stretch -- combining the above performance and a 56-21 victory against Minnesota on Oct. 3 -- Brees passed for 1,016 yards. That was more than the season passing totals for four Big Ten teams for the season through Oct. 10.
Still, Purdue lost again the next week, 31-13 at Penn State, giving the Boilermakers three losses in their four most recent games (Purdue also lost 31-30 at Notre Dame on Sept. 26). They finished the season on a six-game winning streak, upsetting No. 4 Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl to finish 9-4. Brees finished the season 361-of-569 for 3,983 yards and 39 touchdowns.
One fan he did have -- maybe because his team won that night at Camp Randall -- was Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez.
"You couldn't even hear yourself think, and he just couldn't be rattled," Alvarez told the Chicago Tribune about Brees that night. "He put on as impressive a performance as I've ever seen."
|The Bowl Championship Series debuted in 1998. It was a combination of the old Bowl Coalition and the more-recent Bowl Alliance. The system's ranking system combined the Associated Press poll, the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll and a computer element. A total of 15 national champions were crowned using this system until it was dismissed in 2014.|
|Army joined Conference USA, ending a century-long run of being an independent.|
|Among rule changes that season, a rule was added making it mandatory that all eye shields be clear.|
|Tennessee won the national championship, defeating Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.|
|Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. Williams has 2,335 points while second-place Michael Bishop of Kansas State was second with 792.|