College football is, by virtually all accounts, a sloppier, less disciplined breed than its NFL counterpart, with penalties, missed field goals and head-scratching decisions galore. Never was this more apparent than Saturday in Syracuse, where Purdue, clinging to a four-point lead with under a minute to play, imploded in truly impressive fashion, delivering a masterclass in self-destruction with a slew of back-breaking penalties, none more costly than a pass interference called on Bryce Hampton, keeping the Orange’s faint comeback hopes alive. Naturally, it was Hampton who allowed the game-winning touchdown, losing Oronde Gadsden II on a 25-yard strike from Garrett Shrader, putting Syracuse back in the driver’s seat with seven ticks remaining.
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, Syracuse, benefiting from a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties totaling a combined 30 yards, lined up for the ensuing kickoff on Purdue’s 35-yard-line, resulting in this viral screengrab.
Somehow, that wasn’t even the weirdest special teams sequence of the fourth quarter, with Purdue, again digging a hole for itself with penalties (tight end Payne Durham was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after taking his touchdown celebration a bit too far), kicking off from its own 10-yard-line minutes earlier.
A playground for the unusual and offbeat, college football is full of these anomalies, quirky Easter eggs hiding in plain sight. But rarely do you see them happen in such close proximity, highlighting a wonderfully off-the-rails fourth quarter at the JMA Wireless Dome, with the Orange and Boilermakers totaling 42 points after only scoring 19 in the previous three quarters.
The stress of the game’s frantic final minutes may have taken years off their lives, but the chaos was well worth it for the Cardiac Cuse, who are 3-0 for the first time since 2018, which was also the last time Syracuse qualified for a bowl game, finishing 15th in the AP rankings on the strength of a 10-3 record including 6-2 in conference play.