Game Info / How to Watch
Who? Purdue Boilermakers (2-9, #87 S&P+) v. Indiana Hoosiers (5-6, #65 S&P+)
When? Saturday, Nov. 28, 12 PM, West Lafayette, Indiana
Vegas? INDIANA -7
It has been over 1000 days since the Purdue Boilermakers defeated the Indiana Hoosiers on the gridiron. Despite winning the overall series 72-39 (with six ties), Purdue hasn't managed to beat the Hoosiers in the two attempts since they hired Darrell Hazell (after two whole seasons at Kent State, one of them objectively good!)
In fact, Purdue hasn't really managed to beat anyone in Hazell's two years. He has six career wins, three of those are against FCS schools. He has two conference wins: besting Tim Beckman at Illinois and Mike Riley at Nebraska. The proud Cradle of Quarterbacks has rotated through five different players in his tenure, either due to injury or ineffectiveness. Freshman David Blough took the lion's share of the snaps this season and showed flashes of decentness next to stretches of horribleness. However, Blough looks to miss his first Bucket game with concussion symptoms, giving way to Austin Appleby, who opposed Zander Diamont in last season's iteration of the rivalry, going 19 of 35 for 123 scoreless yards and 3 picks.
But you know what they say about rivalries: you can't rely on numbers. You gotta throw them all out! They don't apply when two teams who both want to win and the other to lose meet on the field! Numbers are otherwise a perfectly great predictor of exactly what will happen in a one-game sample, as we all know. So with that said, here are some numbers for you to throw out:
THE OPPONENT: (#87 S&P+, #94 Offense, #67 Defense)
Looking over Purdue's statistical profile is not for the weak-hearted. Typically, bad teams have one or two things they still do really well and the best thing I can say about Purdue, statistically, is that they are 33rd in defensive passing IsoPPP, meaning they are fairly decent at preventing explosive passing plays through the air, but they're 99th in efficiency, meaning that teams are moving the chains by stringing together several successful plays in a row as opposed to getting big chunks through the air. They're 84th against the pass overall.
They're 113th against the run, putting up little resistance in either efficiency (94th) or explosiveness (91st). Jordan Howard will probably think he has died and gone to football heaven after slogging through games against Michigan, Iowa, and Michigan State, assuming the junior running back can suit up and play through the knee injury that made him miss the majority of the Maryland game.
Their defensive line is 41st in Havoc Rate, but the linebackers and defensive backs are 78th and 103rd, respectively, leaving them 83rd as a team. That said, the defense has to deal with some of the worst average starting field position in the nation, as a dysfunctional offense and special teams leaves them forced to defend short fields constantly.
And about that offense:
Austin Appleby was replaced by David Blough after a few starts that ranged from uninspiring to dreadful. He's completed 55.3% of his passes for 928 yards, with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. That said, we all saw the first quarter against Maryland, Indiana's defense is more than capable of breaking down completely and letting backup quarterbacks and running backs put up points in a hurry.
Markell Jones, the true freshman running back, has been a beacon of hope and greatness for a Purdue squad that is lacing both. The Columbus East product has piled up 779 yards and 9 touchdowns in 5.1 yards per carry. He's similar to Jordan Howard, choosing to power through defenders and seek contact along the edge of the field, but he's got more wiggle in the open field than he's given credit for. He's chipped in 30 catches in the passing game as well, showing a very well-rounded game for a true freshman. As he bulks up and gains confidence, he could be foundation piece for the Boilermakers moving forward.
THE HOOSIERS: (#65 S&P+, #18 Offense, #105 Defense)
Win the game and you go to a bowl. If you WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME you get to play in a BOWL GAME. Six straight losses to start the conference season SUCKED. Getting so close to a major upset and being unable to pull it off against four top ten teams SUCKED. Getting a huge lead against Rutgers and then choking it away on Homecoming SUCKED.
But if you win this game none of that will really matter because you will go to a bowl game.
Nate Sudfeld, you've had a helluva career here at Indiana, and you have a chance to cement your legacy. All of these seniors do! You would take this team to its first bowl game since 2007 and you would be the first senior class in god knows how long to have the Bucket for the majority of your time at Indiana! The Hoosiers haven't strung together more than two Bucket victories since the 1940s when they had four of them in a row.
Let's do this, Hoosiers.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR:
- Jordan Howard's knee / ankle / general well-being. This dude has gutted it out for this team pretty much all year, basically playing on one leg since getting injured against Ohio State and making a mockery of great run defenses like Iowa and Michigan. I would expect him to give the NFL serious consideration in the offseason, so this could very well be his only Old Oaken Bucket game. I hope he's healthy enough to make it something to remember.
- The Purdue faithful. It has been a trying
seasonfew years in West Lafayette, and pictures get posted on Twitter of dismal attendance at Ross-Ade pretty much every home game. It'll be interesting to see how many turn out to watch their team try and prevent Indiana from achieving all their hopes and dreams. On the other hand, I'm curious to see how much of an invasion Indiana fans make for the game. Tickets can be had for quite cheap on StubHub. The thought of Indiana clinching a bowl game with their third straight bucket win in front of a decidedly pro-Hoosier crowd in Ross-Ade stadium is borderline erotic.
- Avoid the slow start. Part of Indiana's failures this season can be attributed to slow starts. Some times they overcome them (Maryland, Southern Illinois) and some times they don't (Iowa). It'd be nice to see them race out to an early lead on the road, but ultimately all they need is the lead as time expires. #analysis