Nabers helps No. 16 LSU rout Purdue 63-7 in Citrus Bowl

citrus bowl
Matt Pendleton/USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ORLANDO, Fla. — Malik Nabers threw for a touchdown, caught one and had 163 yards receiving in No. 16 LSU’s 63-7 rout of Purdue in the Citrus Bowl on Monday.

LSU never trailed against the Boilermakers, recording 594 yards of offense and concluding the scoring with Quad Wilson’s 99-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Tigers (10-4) finished with at least 10 wins for the first time since the 2019 season, when Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson led undefeated LSU to a national title.

The Boilermakers (8-6) were led by interim coach Brian Brohm after his brother, Jeff, left at the end of the regular season to take Louisville’s head coaching job. Ryan Walters, formerly the defensive coordinator at Illinois, will now take over as Purdue’s coach.

Purdue had an up-and-down year, starting 1-2 before rallying to win the Big Ten West and reach the conference title game, where it lost 43-22 to Michigan. The Boilermakers were playing in their first Citrus Bowl.

LSU, after a year in which it beat Alabama and reached the Southeastern Conference title game, controlled the game from the start. And nothing changed when starting quarterback Jayden Daniels was relieved by backup Garrett Nussmeier. After punting on their first drive, the Tigers scored touchdowns on seven of their next eight possessions to take a 49-0 lead.

Daniels led four scoring drives, going 12 of 17 for 139 yards and a touchdown. He also had 67 yards rushing and caught the TD pass from Nabers.

Nussmeier finished 11 of 15 for 173 yards and two TDs. He threw a second-half interception, but LSU was already leading 42-0 at the time and the Tigers’ defense followed by forcing a three-and-out.

Nabers, LSU’s leading receiver this season, had season highs in yards and catches (nine), and his TD toss wasn’t even his most impressive pass of the day. After running wide on a jet sweep, he threw an on-target deep ball to Kyren Lacy for a 45-yard completion that set up a touchdown in the first half.

John Emery Jr. had a 1-yard TD rush, Derrick Davis Jr. had a 12-yard rushing score and Noah Cain had two rushing TDs, which gave the Tigers a school-record 39 rushing TDs for the year.

Austin Burton made his third career start at quarterback for the Boilermakers in place of Aidan O'Connell, who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Burton completed 12 of 24 passes for 74 yards with an interception.

Michael Alaimo relieved Burton in the second half and threw a 16-yard TD pass to T.J. Sheffield. Alaimo finished 4 of 11 for 31 yards with an interception.

Purdue crossed midfield four times. The first was on a drive set up by a fake punt, but that ended when Burton threw a pick. The other three ended in a touchdown, interception and turnover on downs. Purdue’s first nine possessions resulted in six punts and three turnovers.


Purdue receiver Deion Burks took a scary hit and had his head stabilized as he was loaded onto a stretcher, carted off the field and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Burks flashed a thumbs-up on his way off the field, and Purdue officials told ABC reporters that he had movement in his extremities.


LSU: The Tigers were without several players, including WR Kayshon Boutte, who recently declared for the NFL draft, but their success demonstrated the program’s depth. LSU had 27 first downs and was 6 of 7 in the red zone.

Purdue: The Boilermakers were outmatched with a roster depleted by opt-outs. Purdue had just 17 first downs.


LSU: Plays Florida State in Orlando on Sept. 3 to start the 2023 season.

Purdue: Hosts Fresno State on Sept. 2.

Coach Brees: Purdue brings back QB to assist at bowl game

brees purdue
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Ryan Walters was a high school quarterback, he wanted to replicate Drew Brees’ trailblazing career path.

Now, Brees seems to be following Walters’ lead.

One day after the 36-year-old Walters was introduced as Purdue’s coach, athletic director Mike Bobinski announced Brees would return to the campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, as an assistant coach to help the Boilermakers prepare for their Jan. 2 Citrus Bowl game against No. 17 LSU.

“I am extremely excited to work with our team over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Citrus Bowl,” Brees said in a statement. “I see it not only as an opportunity to coach and mentor this group of young men but to represent all the former Purdue players.”

Bobinski said Brees will be a countable assistant coach under NCAA rules, allowing him to work with players on the field and help on the recruiting circuit, even though the job is, for now, temporary.

Brees is one of the most recognizable alumni of the “Cradle of Quarterbacks,” leading the Boilermakers to their last Big Ten title in 2000 before embarking on a record-breaking NFL career with the Chargers and New Orleans Saints.

Following his retirement after the 2020 season, a 20-year career that included one Super Bowl title, Brees worked briefly as a broadcaster. Saints running back Alvin Kamara, a former teammate, thinks Brees took the job for another reason.

“I think Drew’s bored. Drew, you’re bored!” Kamara joked Thursday. “I think he’ll do good.”

Brees is a familiar figure at Purdue, where he has attended games and donated millions of dollars to the athletic department, which culminated in the renaming of the athletes’ academic facility as the Brees Academic Performance Center. He’s also at the forefront of the school’s funding effort for name, image and likeness compensation for athletes.

Now, he’s moving back to campus to help the short-handed Boilermakers (8-5) after a season that saw them win their first Big Ten West Division crown and play for their first conference crown since he graduated. No. 2 Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 in the conference title game. Four assistant coaches have already followed former Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm to Louisville.

Brohm’s younger brother, Brian, will serve as interim coach for the bowl game and co-defensive coordinator Mark Hagen will call the defensive signals against LSU (9-4). The first meeting between Purdue and LSU now features a quarterback-turned-coach who was wildly popular in Louisiana.

“When I first heard about Drew coming back to help coach our guys for the bowl game, I was hoping the rumors were true,” Walters said. “Our players have the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest leaders in football history, a valuable experience that they will never forget. I cannot wait to see him on the sidelines.”

The 12-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 45 MVP held NFL records for completions, completion percentage, yards passing and touchdown passes when he retired and was the first quarterback in league history with 12 consecutive 4,000-yard seasons and five 5,000-yard seasons.

Now he’s trying to help the Boilermakers close out their first back-to-back nine-win seasons since 1997-98, his freshman and sophomore years.

“Being able to talk about what he’s done, talking about that with these players, I think that’ll be a big part,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said. “Then, I’m sure guys hearing from Drew Brees, I’m sure that’ll be a good thing for recruiting.”

Walters begins Purdue tenure by promising points, defense

Ryan Walters
USA Today

New Purdue coach Ryan Walters first flexed his muscle by giving walk-on running back Devin Mockobee a scholarship.

Then he promised to keep the Boilermakers’ reputation intact – as the Cradle of Quarterbacks and the Den of Defensive Ends.

The 36-year-old Walters said Wednesday that he envisions putting together a program that scores in bunches, stops the run and routinely harasses opposing quarterbacks.

“On offense, we will be creative,” he said in his introductory news conference. “We will be explosive in the air and on the ground. We will be strategically aggressive, and we will put points on the board and we will put them up in bunches. On defense, you already know how we get down. It’s going to be organized chaos from whistle to snap.”

Walters’ deviates from Purdue’s traditional practice of hiring offensive-minded coaches. He’s the first defensive coach to lead the Boilermakers since Leon Burtnett in 1982.

The former high school quarterback and Illinois defensive coordinator certainly understands the school’s legacy. He dreamed of following Drew Brees, from Rose Bowl parade to the NFL.

When those plans changed, the 25-year-old Walters joined the Arizona staff as the youngest Power Five position coach. He quickly rose through the ranks with stops at Oklahoma, North Texas, Memphis and Missouri before Illinois coach Bret Bielema hired him as defensive coordinator in 2021.

Now the architect of one of this season’s top defenses plans to build on the momentum Jeff Brohm created before taking the job at his alma mater, Louisville, last week. The university’s board of trustees still must approve the proposed five-year contract for the fifth-youngest coach in the Bowl Subdivision.

Meanwhile, the Boilermakers’ bowl plans remain unchanged. Brohm’s younger brother, Brian, and co-defensive coordinator Mark Hagen will be calling plays in the Jan. 2 Citrus Bowl against No. 17 LSU while Walters watches practices, hires assistants, recruits and starts preparing for next season with players such as Mockobee, the record-setting freshman runner.

Athletic director Mike Bobinski and outgoing university president Mitch Daniels believe it’s a home-run hire.

“Seven days ago, I didn’t think I could feel worse,” Daniels said. “As of the last 72 hours, I couldn’t feel better for all the reasons Mike just outlined and you just personified.”

Still, questions remain.

Bobinski noted that Walters prefers to keep the traits of his trademark defense as secretive as the recipe for Coca-Cola, and Walters did nothing to dispel the notion by even declining to describe the scheme he prefers. And while he does intend to hire a defensive coordinator, Walters plans to be making the play calls.

And now, for the first time in his career, his decisions will be the final word.

Mockobee is the first to profit from that final say.

“I thought he was in the upper echelon of the running backs we had faced or were going to face this past season,” Walters said of Mockobee. “I found out he was not on scholarship, and you know, now I’m like, `Shoot, this guy needs a scholarship’ and I’m reminding myself like, `Well, yeah, you’re the head coach, so you can do that.”‘