To quote the classic 90s movie Clerks, Jeff Brohm wasn’t even supposed to be here.
The Louisville native and alum was always supposed to go back home once the Cardinals job opened up. And it sure did open last year, when Bobby Petrino and his motorcycle were fired out of an airlock after the team massively underperformed last season. However, Brohm shocked many people by staying in West Lafayette and spurning his hometown.
But it makes sense — you can tell he’s trying to build something at Purdue after two straight bowl games and improving recruiting classes, and at U of L he’d have to build from the ground up in a league where he’d face Clemson every season. (No need to cry for Louisville either; they made a shrewd hire in Scott Satterfield, who did wonders down at App State.)
Regardless, the Boilers come into this year’s IU-Purdue contest having gone 2-for-2 on Bucket Games under Brohm. Both games clinched a bowl game for the Boilers and ended Indiana’s seasons. And despite an embarrassing 63-14 bowl loss to Auburn in Nashville, things are trending up in West Lafayette in the coming seasons. In addition, the B1G West looks to be wide-open this season, and Purdue could take advantage of it.
Jeff Brohm already has a signature victory in his tenure, a 49-20 victory over Ohio State under the lights at home (yes, Ross-Ade finally has lights). On the flip side, the Boilers lost at home to Eastern Michigan last season, blew games against Mizzou and Wisconsin, and came out completely flat against Minnesota. If they can just get a little more consistency, they might get to 9-3 with a schedule that avoids both OSU and Michigan.
What to expect from the Boilermakers
This team is like the mid-2010s Hoosiers in that it will likely score a lot of points. However, the Boiler defense is a little more established than what those IU teams were like. Brohm likes to dial up trick plays and misdirections a lot — when they work, it’s a lot of fun (see the OSU game last year), but if things don’t go right, it could be a long game for Purdue. It’s also the Bucket Game, and it’s in West Lafayette, so you’d expect the Boilers to get motivated for this one. Even some of those worst teams of the Hazell era gave IU fits.
Three Names to Watch
Rondale Moore, WR - Moore is one of the most electric players in college football, as IU found out the hard way in last year’s Bucket Game. In space, Moore was especially lethal last year. He’s been a highlight reel waiting to happen every game, and expect that trend to continue this season.
Elijah Sindelar, QB - With David Blough gone, Sindelar takes control of the offense. He showed some promise in 2017 and started out as the starter last year, but quickly lost his spot to Blough after a miserable showing against Northwestern to open the season. He’ll have to step it up if Purdue wants to contend for a division title.
Markus Bailey, LB - The fifth-year senior linebacker had 115 tackles last year and should anchor a defense that also gains hometown kid and top recruit George Karlaftis.
How IU Can Win
The last two seasons, IU had conservative gameplans against Purdue and the Boilers exploited that. The Hoosiers seemed content in those games to let Purdue control the tempo and flow of the game. Indiana will have to take more chances if it wants to reclaim the Bucket for the first time under Tom Allen as head coach.
Look, my head is saying that Purdue wins this one easily, especially since it’s at home for them. But despite a tricky non-con schedule, I think the Boilers will already have gotten to 6 wins and a bowl berth by the time this game rolls around. Meanwhile, it’s conceivable that IU will be 5-6 heading into this one, as the Hoosiers have every season for the past 4 years. Another 5-7 season with a Bucket loss would put a lot of pressure on Tom Allen and the coaching staff, and maybe some pressure on Fred Glass as well.
But whatever, it’s still preseason for another few days, so let’s have some fun. Hoosiers squeeze out a victory on the road thanks to a late Michael Penix touchdown.
Indiana 35, Purdue 31