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Can Indiana win four straight Bucket Games for the first time since 1947?

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Who killed Purdue football? There’s a long list of suspects.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Each week until the start of football season, we'll be going through Indiana's opponents one by one and looking at whatever we find interesting and/or hilarious about them. And as always, the kick was good. This week: Choooooo Chooooooo

Previous previews: FIU | Ball State | Wake Forest | Michigan State | Ohio State | Nebraska | Northwestern | Maryland | Rutger | Penn State | Michigan

GAME 12: PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

Last year's record: 2-10

2015 Final F/+ Ranking: 93

Head Coach: Darrell Hazell

Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN

When: November 26, time TBA

1. Who killed Purdue football?

Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Purdue was an upper-middle tier Big Ten football team. They had continuity at head coach, were consistently going to bowl games, and even made a Rose Bowl in 2000 with Drew Brees in his final season. Then, it all went downhill. Once Joe Tiller retired, the Boilers stagnated under Danny Hope, and now have really fallen apart under Darrell Hazell, who’s only won six games over the past three years. So, who’s to blame? I put together a list of suspects:

Morgan Burke and Mitch Daniels

Under Burke, and especially after Governor Daniels took over the Purdue presidency, the Purdue athletics department has made a concerted effort recently to tighten the purses and run a profit, despite all the BTN television money coming in.

Jim Delany and other B1G teams

The top half of the Big Ten is ramping up the arms race, and the conference has added three new schools in the past five years. As noted above, Purdue hasn't kept up with the conference’s priorities in football.

Danny Hope

Hope made two bowl games in his four years in West Lafayette, but he left the cupboard bare by the time he was fired after the 2012 season.

Darrell Hazell

Here’s a list of teams that Hazell has defeated during his three years at Purdue: Indiana State (x2), Western Michigan, Southern Illinois, Illinois, Nebraska. Hazell has not kept up with the rest of the conference in recruiting, and Purdue is now struggling in a weaker B1G West division.

Geography

Indiana, despite having fewer people than Illinois, Michigan, or Ohio, has three Power 5 teams in the state, more than any of the states listed. Ultimately, having three successful big-budget football programs in this size of a state may not be feasible long-term. When Tiller was at Purdue, Notre Dame went through three mediocre coaches, and Indiana made only one bowl game, giving the Boilers a window. Now, Brian Kelly and Kevin Wilson are developing some continuity at their respective schools. Notre Dame is an elite program once again, while Indiana was a bowl team again last year, and of course has now won the Old Oaken Bucket three years running.

Thus there’s no single culprit for the demise of Purdue football, but it’s been a long, slow decline. Things have gotten so out of hand that Bill C.’s preview for the Boilers was simply entitled “Purdue will field a football team in 2016.”

Luckily, they’ve got someone coming in who has been tasked to fix it.

2. New Purdue AD Mike Bobinski has big shoes to fill and a huge task ahead of him

After three years at Georgia Tech, Mike Bobinski will be replacing Morgan Burke as Purdue’s athletic director. Burke has been AD since 1993, which is a long time at any school, and college athletics have changed a lot in his 23 years on the job. And while Burke has been criticized in recent years, he does leave a solid legacy behind in West Lafayette. Bobinski is known as a basketball guy – as Xavier’s AD, he hired Thad Matta, Sean Miller, and Chris Mack all within a decade. But at Georgia Tech, he was criticized for keeping Brian Gregory around for too long, then threw Josh Pastner a life raft and hired him as coach, even though Memphis was looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

Basketball shouldn't a pressing concern for Bobinski at Purdue, but football will have to be at the front of his mind. While at Tech, he extended Paul Johnson’s contract after the Yellow Jackets won a New Year’s Six bowl game in 2014. Naturally, the team went 3-9 the following year. Bobinski will have to make a decision about what to do with Hazell, and he’ll have to commit to spending more on the sport if he wants Purdue to become relevant again.

Purdue also has the advantage of being in the B1G West, which has had a couple down years overall since the conference was realigned two years ago. If the Boilers are able to take advantage of this division, then maybe they can have a few good seasons in the sport before the B1G inevitably expands once more.

3. Can Indiana beat the Boilers for the fourth straight year?

Indiana has recently enjoyed its most successful streak in the Bucket Game since the 1940s. If the Hoosiers win again this season, it will be the first time since 1947 that the team will have kept the Bucket four years in a row. The 2013 and 2015 games were very similar – Indiana’s offense could not be stopped en route to 50+ points and an easy victory both times – while in 2014, Zander Diamont led a last-minute drive downfield and rushed in the game-winning touchdown himself to give IU a 23-16 victory. Afterwards, there were cigars.

Purdue comes into this season with new cpordinators, as Terry Malone takes over offesne and Marcus Freeman and Ross Els are now co-coordinating the defense. Both units were low ranked last year, and the change of coordinators on both sides of the ball seems like last-ditch efforts for Hazell to help turn the ship around at Purdue. The Boilers have some decent skill players, such as RB Markell Jones and WR D’Angelo Yancey. In addition, David Blough seems like he’s claimed the starting quarterback position that has been in flux for Purdue in recent years; however, he did not play in last year’s Bucket Game due to a concussion. On the other side of the ball, senior Jake Replogle anchors Purdue’s defensive line, which will need to hold up because the Boiler secondary has had issues in recent years.

By the last weekend of the season, we’ll have a much better idea of how these two match up, but with the game in Bloomington and the recent history on their side, the Hoosiers should feel good about their chances in this game.

4. This hype video will never get old

BOILERS

DON’T

MESS

5. Let’s remember some Boilermakers

  • Mike Alstott
  • Kyle Orton
  • Caleb TerBush
  • Dustin Keller
  • Curtis Painter
  • Neil Armstrong

6. Let’s hear from our readers

I realize that this preview has been pretty harsh on our neighbors to the north. So let’s end things by pointing out the positives!

Here are the nicest things everyone said about Purdue football:

Accurate!

One would hope with all the engineers on campus that they could get this right.

We are all ancient.

How nice of them!

And on that note, this concludes the 2016 CQ Summer Preview Series.