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Indiana vs. Purdue: Football Q&A with Hammer and Rails

They’re coming.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

As I’m sure everyone reading this foresaw, Indiana football is set for a late-season home matchup absolutely loaded with Big Ten Championship implications.

What, I ask, could possibly go wrong?

Well, I had someone to answer. Our Boilermaker counterparts over at Hammer and Rails reached out to do a good old fashioned Q&A. We had some questions for them as well.

Here are their answers:

CQ: This was supposed to be Purdue’s year to truly capitalize on a very, very weak West and finally get that elusive division title in decisive fashion. That hasn’t happened and Purdue no longer controls its own destiny in that race. Why?

H&R: Purdue really has no one to blame but themselves. They failed to close games against Syracuse (not a Big Ten opponent but one more win would just be nice for the psyche.) and Penn State. Purdue has looked undisciplined and has given up big play after big play. Then, when placed in the driver’s seat against both Wisconsin and Iowa Purdue could not put anything together. Just missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

CQ: Aidan O’Connell is still capable, but I’ve heard less and less about him with interceptions being what usually brings him to our attention among Purdue follows on Twitter. What’s up with him?

H&R: He suffered an undisclosed (officially) injury early in the year and really hasn’t been the same since. It’s pretty much common knowledge that it was a rib injury. For anyone who has ever had a rib injury you’ll know 1. How painful that can be and 2. How long that can take to heal.

AOC never really had trouble with interceptions until a three game stretch of games against Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois where he threw six of them. The rest of the year he’s thrown five. In Purdue’s most recent game against Northwestern he didn’t throw any so Purdue fans are hopeful he can return to his excellent ball control.

CQ: So can Jeff Brohm run the ball yet or

H&R: With the emergence of Devin Mockobee this year Purdue does in fact have a running game with a pulse. Unfortunately for Purdue, Mockobee was placed into concussion protocol almost immediately in the game against Northwestern. There’s been no word as of this writing of if Mockobee will play. While King Doerue and Dylan Downing were originally ahead of Mockobee on the depth chart there’s no doubt that he’s surpassed them now. If Mockobee is out the Purdue running game takes a real hit.

CQ: Who are the players that Indiana should watch out for on offense and defense?

H&R: I’ve already mentioned Mockobee and AOC so it seems like it’s time to take about the Purdue pass catchers. I say pass catchers instead of receivers because while Charlie Jones has been killing it this year tags the WR position (he’s got over 1,000 yards) Purdue’s second most potent weapon is tight end Payne Durham.

Durham has battled the drops throughout his career but has had a great season this year. He’s been a key target in the red zone and AOC truly trusts that Durham will be there for him. He’s also hard to bring down which is a plus.

On defense the Purdue defensive line has been surprisingly stout this year. Guys like Jack Sullivan, Branson Deen, and Lawrence Johnson have really stepped up. Add him to Jalen Graham at linebacker and you’ve got a front seven that can really get the job done. Not incredibly flashy but solid. Sometimes that’s enough.

CQ: What’s your prediction, with a final score?

H&R: I’m not sure if you’re a listener to the Hammer and Rails podcast but the prediction you sent me of 24-10 was exactly what I said would happen on our most recent episode. The Purdue pass defense is their weakness and to know that IU has struggled so much to pass the ball gives me hope. Rest assured though, if there’s a banana peel to slip on Purdue will find it. I’m sticking with 24-10 though.