Last meeting: 11/22/2008 (Purdue 62, IU 10 in West Lafayette)
Last IU win: 11/17/2007 (IU 27, Purdue 24 in Bloomington)
Series: Purdue leads 69-36-6
Coach: Danny Hope (first season)
When we last saw Purdue, the Boilers were running all over the Hoosiers on the way to a 62-10 Old Oaken Bucket game victory over Indiana. The 2008 season was by far Joe Tiller’s worst season at Purdue, but the Boilers finished strong and sent Tiller out as a big winner in a rivalry game. Tiller finished his career with a 10-2 record over IU. The two IU wins were razor close, and seven of Purdue’s 10 wins were by 24 points or more. The cliche surrounding rivalry games is "throw out the records," and that was true in the Tiller era, but only for Purdue. The two IU teams that won the Bucket, the 2001 and 2007 teams, are by far IU’s best teams of the post-Mallory era and IU probably had a better team than Purdue in both seasons. On the other hand, Purdue’s only losing teams under Tiller, the 2005 team and last year’s team, beat IU by an average of 39 points in those two seasons. Purdue is at its lowest point since Tiller came to town, and so it is attainable and important for IU to make this a competitive rivalry again. We can take heart that this condition need not be permanent: against Tiller's two immediate predecessors, Jim Colletto and Fred Akers, IU went 7-3. Hopefully, IU will have more success against new coach Danny Hope, but it would be hard to have less.
I won’t say too much about last year’s game, but I will direct you to a couple of my posts from last year. Simply, may have been the worst loss in school history. IU has lost badly before, and IU has lost to bad teams before, but never, in 115 years of football, had IU lost so badly to a bad team. Here are Purdue's stats from 2008, including the NCAA stat summary and the Statsheet page. Purdue's overall offense production was average (#48 in total offense) and pass-heavy. Still, the offense was somehow less than the sum of its parts. Curtis Painter graduated with his name all over Purdue's football record book, but never really put things together. In 2008, he averaged 248 yards per game, but completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes and threw 13 TDs to 11 INTs. Purdue averaged on 6 yards per passing play, with was #93 nationally. Still, Painter will be missed, as Purdue will be starting unproven senior Joey Elliott at QB. At running back, Kory Sheets was very good last year, and he likely will be replaced by Jaycen Taylor. Taylor missed all of 2008 because of a knee injury, but he did play as a freshman and sophomore, and has a career yards-per-carry average of 5.7. Purdue's top two receivers are gone, but Keith Smith, who caught 486 yards and 2 TDs last year, is back, and Purdue is relying on a number of defensive position-switchers and juco transfers. Purdue returns most of the O-line. On defense, the Boilers return a reasonably experienced defense, particularly in the secondary, although they lost some key contributors on the line and in the linebacking corps.
The transition at Purdue seems like as good a time as any to bring some regular, rather than occasional, competitiveness to this rivalry. The future is uncertain for both programs, and every prognositcator seems to be picking these two programs to finish #10 and #11 in the conference. We will know by the time this game rolls around whether either IU or Purdue can prove the experts wrong.