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The Purdue game.

Purdue Boilermakers
2008 record: 3-8
2008 Sagarin: 76 (IU is #105)
2007 record: 8-5 (beat Central Michigan in Motor City Bowl)
2007 Sagarin: 57
Series: Purdue leads 62-36-6
Last IU win: 11/17/2007 (27-24 in Bloomington)
Last Purdue win: 11/18/2006 (28-19 in West Lafayette)
Last IU win in West Lafayette: 11/23/1996 (33-16)
TV: Noon, ESPN2

Both IU and Purdue have had horrific seasons, but one of the teams can take some solace with a win in the Bucket game. IU, in one of the few bright moments of the last 15 years, beat Purdue on a late 49-yard field goal by Austin Starr. It was unfortunate that the game came down to that--IU had a 24-3 lead in the third quarter before the awakening of Purdue's offense and some IU miscues and turnovers necessitated the heroics. Now, IU seeks its first back-to-back Bucket wins since 1993 and 1994 and its first win in West Lafayette since 1996, a game that was the last coached by IU's Bill Mallory and Purdue's Jim Colletto.

Both teams enter the game with identical records, although even Purdue's meager accomplishments look good next to IU's. Purdue's losses in the non-conference were to respectable Notre Dame and Oregon, while IU lost to two MAC teams--the two best MAC teams, but still MAC teams. In the Big Ten season, Purdue has been more competitive: only one of Purdue's 6 Big Ten losses has been by more than 20 points, while 4 of IU's 6 Big Ten losses have been by at least 27 points. Depending on the source, oddsmakers have made Purdue an 11 to 13 point favorite.

Curtis Painter, who actually entered the season with (incomprehensible to me) Heisman hype given his hard-to-figure place of prominence in the Big Ten and Purdue record books, has been horrid even when he hasn't been injured. He has completed only 58 percent of his passes and has thrown 11 interceptions to only 8 touchdowns. His two backups have been similarly unremarkable. The savior for Purdue's offense has been Cory Sheets, who averages nearly 5 yards per carry and has run for 1070 yards and 13 touchdowns. Purdue ranks 68 in total offense (IU is #62); 47 in passing offense (IU is #82); #86 in rushing offense (IU is #44); 72 in total defense (IU is #102); 40 in pass defense (IU is #104); ansd 96 in rushing defense (IU is #92). In short, they are two rotten teams, and Purdue has a slight edge statistically against a tougher schedule.

Still, this is an important game. A road win for IU would provide some reason for optimism among recruits and players. A win for Purdue would give them some momentum as Danny Hope takes over for Joe Tiller. Given Tiller's 9-2 record against IU, sending him home a loser in his last game would be nice. Finally, if IU wins this one, Purdue fans might have to admit that it counts. What do I mean? Take this, for instance, from Off the Tracks:
Both times it took extraordinary circumstances (an absolute monsoon and a coach’s death providing motivation) for Indiana to beat us.
The absolute monsoon was in 2001. I was at the game, and by my recollection, it was raining on both sides of the field (and was only drizzling in the second half.) I have always thought that games played in inclement weather counted, that it's part of the game, but Purdue fans have always disagreed about 2001. But I can let that go. Here's what I can't let go: I'm sorry that Travis, who I like and respect, is the one who has to bear the brunt of this, but I am completely fucking sick and tired of hearing about how the fact that our coach fucking died of fucking cancer was such a fucking advantage for the 2007 team. If you think it's so great, maybe someday your coach will die of fucking cancer and you can see how great it is. Go dig up some 2007 previews. The talking heads, the bloggers, the print journalists, and others were unanimous that Hoeppner's death would be a fatal blow to the fortune's of IU's 2007 season. The Hoosiers were supposed to finish in the basement. Instead, they managed to win seven games and play in a bowl game. They didn't do that because of a ghost. or because of any "win one for the Gipper" speeches. They did it because a) the schedule was easy; b) the Big Ten was down; c) we had a uncoverable wide receiver; d) we had two senior cornerbacks, including one who started in the NFL this year; e) Kellen Lewis was healthy and didn't miss spring practice.; f) and out-of-nowhere All-American performances from Greg Middleton and Austin Starr. We won last year because we had a better team than Purdue and because we were playing at home, and it shouldn't have been that close.

So, a win would be nice, but might be too much to ask from the 2008 Hoosiers. This team was bad before the injury problems began, but those injuries are unquestionably a factor now. IU has to win the turnover game. In 2006, Curtis Painter threw 4 interceptions, but IU couldn't take advantage. If anything of the sort happens again, hopefully IU will be ready.