WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Tommy Tuberville was a 3-year-old the last time Cincinnati won a road game against a Big Ten Conference opponent, defeating Indiana in 1957 in Bloomington.
Tuberville, who will celebrate his 62nd birthday on Sept. 18, got an early present Saturday when the Bearcats dominated Purdue, 38-20 in Ross-Ade Stadium.
Quarterback Hayden Moore passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more, and linebacker Mike Tyson intercepted Purdue’s David Blough three times, laying the foundation for a relatively easy victory.
“With five turnovers, you’re going to win most of your games,” Tuberville said. “I don’t care if you are playing on the moon. That was a good game for us. I thought we handled it well.”
Purdue (1-1) was trying to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2007, but Blough was intercepted five times, and J.D. Dellinger missed a 28-yard field goal. Three interceptions of Blough set up Cincinnati touchdowns.
“I was just doing my job,” Tyson said of his three interceptions. “If it wasn’t for our defensive front playing so well, I wouldn’t have gotten any interceptions.”
Blough threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Domonique Young and a 36-yarder to DeAngelo Yancey, and Richie Worship ran 4 yards for another Purdue score. Blough passed for 401 yards.
The Bearcats’ ability to successfully convert on third down was at the core of their offensive dominance. Cincinnati converted 12 of its first 14 third-down situations.
Moore threw touchdown passes of 5 and 28 yards to Nate Cole and 20 yards to D.J. Dowdy and ran 9 and 23 yards for scores. His 23-yard TD run with 2:19 iced the outcome.
“We got a little conservative in the fourth quarter, but it was a big win for us,” Tuberville said.
Moore completed 19 of 32 passes for 250 yards and ran eight times for 58 yards.
Cincinnati drove 85, 80, 75, 32 and 49 yards for touchdowns and had another 13-play, 79-yard drive that produced a 26-yard Andrew Gantz field goal in the third quarter that extended the lead to 24-7.
Safety Tyrell Gilbert’s fourth-quarter interception of Blough set up the 28-yard touchdown pass to Cole, pushing the Cincinnati lead to 31-7 with 14:10 to play.
“When you can’t get off the field on third down, and then you have too many turnovers, you’re not going to win,” said Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, now 7-31 in his fourth season with the Boilermakers with four victories against FCS opponents.
CINCINNATI: Tyson intercepted Blough three times, once in the end zone, and Gilbert made a key pick to set up a score, allowing the Bearcats to win the turnover battle. In its season-opening victory against Tennessee-Martin, Cincinnati turned the ball over three times. Coupled with Moore’s solid day, the Bearcats won each side of the ball.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers’ defense allowed 7.6 yards each time Cincinnati snapped the ball in the first half, when the Bearcats were 9 of 11 on third-down conversions. Coupled with the five interceptions of Blough, Purdue mistakes denied the Boilermakers a chance of rallying from what was once a 24-point deficit.
Blough’s five interceptions are the most by a Purdue quarterback since Ohio State intercepted Scott Hoffman five times in the Buckeyes’ 1990 victory against the Boilermakers. Former Super Bowl winning quarterback Bob Griese was intercepted five times by Illinois in a 1966 game that Purdue actually rallied to win, 25-21.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers played without three starters — defensive end Austin Larkin (ankle), cornerback Da’Wan Hunte (ankle) and linebacker Jimmy Herman (hamstring) and then lost starting running back Markell Jones in the third quarter with a sprained shoulder.
CINCINNATI: The Bearcats return home to play No. 6 Houston on Thursday night, hoping to improve to 3-0 and spring a major upset.
“We were not looking ahead to Houston, but it’s hard not to because we hear so much about them,” Bearcats’ running back Tion Green said.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers have a bye on Sept. 17 and will play Nevada on Sept. 24 in West Lafayette. It will be the first meeting between the schools.