Purdue is entering a crossroads autumn. Tiller's 12-4 conference record in two years has come against a Big Ten schedule that didn't include Michigan or Ohio State. This year the Boilermakers play them back-to-back, on the road, followed by Michigan State and Penn State at home, all in October. "I knew the honeymoon was ending," says Tiller. "I just didn't expect spousal abuse to follow."
This torturous stretch will give Brees an uncommon opportunity to shine or to fail. "If we win all our games, we'll probably play for the national championship," he says. Given that set of circumstances, he probably would win the Heisman Trophy.
One afternoon last spring Brees strolled the walkway that separates Mackey Arena from Ross-Ade Stadium in one corner of the Purdue campus. "I won't forget the people who thought I couldn't succeed," he says, meaning the people who made him settle for Purdue, the people who chased him north, "but this is the right place for me."
Angel kiss? Just maybe.