Some would say last season was like ripping a Band-Aid off, others a bad nightmare as the Darrell Hazell era got off to a 1-11 start for the Purdue Boilermakers. That was 11 losses to FBS programs, with the lone win against FCS opponent Indiana State.
Slow clap for that, but just because it was a horror start doesn’t mean things can’t turn around quickly. Don’t believe me? Just ask Barry Alvarez and the Wisconsin Badgers of 1992. Many didn’t realize how painful it would be switching from the long time spread-style offense to a more pro-style system.
Year two sees a team looking to prove doubters wrong and all eyes are on achieving a bowl game once again. Can it happen?
Let’s take a look at the Purdue schedule and give you our thoughts.
Aug. 30 – vs. Western Michigan: WIN
There’s nothing like erasing a bad memory with a good one, and for Hazell that means getting his first taste of FBS victory at Purdue. Luckily the schedule gives them a Western Michigan team that has potential but was downright awful in 2013. I mean, this is a team that went 1-11 and 1-7 in MAC play. Look for the Boilermakers to build some confidence with a 10-14 point win here.
Sept. 6 – vs. Central Michigan: WIN
Unlike the brethren from the other directional Michigan schools, Central Michigan is rebuilding itself and looking up instead of down, so this could be a challenge for Purdue. The Chippewas are likely to have the experience advantage in this matchup, as they return all 11 offensive starters. That could put a scare in to the Purdue defense, especially early on. However, look for the Boilermakers to show they’ve got offensive firepower of their own. I’m thinking 34-28 Purdue in a close one at home.
Sept. 13 – at Notre Dame: LOSS
History says look out Notre Dame, because Purdue will put a scare in to you. Yet, the series history also says the Fighting Irish always find a way to pull out a victory. Notre Dame has won six in a row in the series and eight of the last 10 overall. I don’t see how Purdue stops this offense, even with the parts missing due to academic scandal.
Sept. 20 – vs. Southern Illinois: WIN
Purdue’s lone win a season ago was against an FCS opponent from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Boilermakers get another crack against an MVFC member in 2014. Look for this to be a blowout as there is momentum for Purdue being a much better football team this season than last. If it can’t win against an FCS opponent after two FBS wins, something is seriously wrong in West Lafayette, Ind.
Sept. 27 – vs. Iowa: LOSS
Playing at Ross-Ade Stadium isn’t exactly fun for opposing Big Ten teams, and Iowa will get the first crack at taking down Purdue at home in conference play. This game simply comes down to two teams that are on different wavelengths. Iowa is mean, nasty and dominate up front — Purdue, not so much. I’ll take that smash mouth football any day of the week in this type of a matchup.
Oct. 4 – at Illinois: LOSS
This is a coin toss time for me, because these two programs have a lot to prove. For me the nod goes to Illinois playing at home and to an Illinois team that appears to be vastly improved on defense and with a somewhat superior running game thanks to Josh Ferguson. Give me the host Illini in a 3-7 point game.
Oct. 11– vs. Michigan State: LOSS
The Big Ten didn’t do the newcomers any scheduling favors and they also didn’t do Purdue much in the same way. Having this game at home is about the only thing that may keep this game from being a case of lambs thrown to the slaughter. Simply put, Michigan State looks like the class of the league, while Purdue have a lot of growing up left to do. Don’t be surprised to see this one be a three or four touchdown win for the visiting Spartans.
Oct. 18 – at Minnesota: LOSS
Times are a changing in Minneapolis after an eight-win season in 2013. Positive momentum is building and a lot of it has to do with a coaching staff who has found that winning in the Big Ten is as simple as having quality offensive and defensive lines to build around. While Ra’Shede Hageman is gone, most of the rest of the two lines stay intact and that spells trouble for weaker opponents. Minnesota is in a position where it should be winning these games at home and it will win this one in 2014.
Nov. 1 – at Nebraska: LOSS
If you’re keeping score at home, I’ve got four straight Purdue losses coming in to this contest and that isn’t likely to change. Just like Minnesota before them, Nebraska has a dominant offensive and defensive line. It also has one of the best running backs and wide receivers in the league (if not the country), so if you are watching this one I suggest hiding the young ones cause it could be very ugly.
Nov. 8 – vs. Wisconsin: LOSS
Purdue will host the Badgers still looking for the first conference win of the Hazell era, and newsflash…it ain’t happening against the Badgers. Pop on the tape of what Wisconsin did to the Boilermakers last season, or two years ago in Ross-Ade Stadium and just hit repeat — only there’s likely to be a running quarterback in the mix this time around. The Badgers could well be in the thick of a battle for the West division title, and it won’t keep it’s eye off the prize. I smell a 21-30 point butt-kicking coming to Boilermaker territory.
Nov. 22 – vs. Northwestern: LOSS
This is the one game on the Purdue schedule that I keep going back and forth over. On the one hand I know Purdue will be better than it was in 2013, on the other there’s no way Northwestern’s talent doesn’t make that team better than it was last season too. This one is also at home, yet I can’t see a way Northwestern’s defense doesn’t do enough to slow down Purdue’s attack and let quarterback Trevor Siemian do his thing. This could be a potential upset, but I say Northwestern holds on for a four to seven point win.
Nov. 29 – at Indiana: LOSS
I’ll give you a sneak peak at my thoughts on Indiana in this one…it could be win and go bowling or lose and see Kevin Wilson on his way out. With this battle for the Old Oaken Bucket being played in Bloomington and Purdue already winless in Big Ten play it could be a matter of pride that they jump up and bite their rivals. However, Indiana appears to be making strides on the defensive side of the ball. Give me the offensive firepower, better defense and home field advantage as Purdue goes winless in the Big Ten.
Overall Record: 3-9
Big Ten Record: 0-8