When: Sat. Nov. 26, 2016; Noon ET
Where: Bloomington, IN; Memorial Stadium (52,929)
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 72-40-6
Last Meeting: Indiana won last year 54-36
Line: Indiana (-19)
It’s the battle for the “Old Oaken Bucket” one more time, and despite where each team stands in the grand scheme of things, this one’s always big for those that have ties to both of these universities.
Purdue might be turning the page with an uncertain future, but a win here would provide a foundation for whatever new coach backs up the U-Haul to steer the Boilermaker program into the next few years.
For Indiana, a win here makes the program bowl-eligible for two-straight years. Something that has happened in a long time in Bloomington. Head coach Kevin Wilson is also trying to keep the rise of the program on an upward trajectory, and being able to do it with a real-live defense this year could turn a lot of heads across the country.
1 Burning Question: Can Purdue get up off the mat to make this thing competitive?
To say that this year has been yet another disappointment in a long line of disappointing seasons would be the understatement of the century for the Purdue program. The passing game has really been the only thing this team can hang its hat on, but that hasn’t been enough to put wins on the board.
The Boilermakers looked to be re-energized with the coaching change, but shortly thereafter things soured again. It appears as though Purdue has mailed it in for the season, and we’ll have to see if the motivation and energy is there on Saturday against its arch-rival.
This is the last chance to leave the season with something bitter-sweet on the taste-buds. As they say, misery loves company, and keeping the Hoosiers from getting to .500 could spoil things further south down the state.
2 Key Stats:
— 101.1. That’s the average yards per game the Purdue offense averages. That’s 124th in the country. Rushing for barely over the century mark as a team doesn’t exactly invoke fear in opposing defenses. In the Big Ten, you’ve got to be a balanced team, able to take what the defense gives you. The Boilermakers have lived or died on the arm of quarterback David Blough, and unfortunately they’ve fallen on the sword more often than not. Will they be able to get anything cookin’ on the ground against a good Indiana defense?
— .302. That’s the third down percentage the Indiana defense is holding opponents to this year. Yes, we’re actually talking about defense with this Hoosier team. The reason there’s been a renaissance on that side of the ball for Kevin Wilson’s team is the ability to get opposing offenses off the field on third downs. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen has brought an aggressive mindset to that side of the ball, and it’s made all the difference in the world. It could be the difference in this one.
3 Key Players:
David Blough, Purdue QB: Okay Blough, you’re on the clock. There have been games where No. 11 has carried the Purdue offense. There have been other times when the kid has been more charitable to opposing defenses than Mother Teresa. For Purdue to have a shot in this one, we have to see the good David Blough and not the one that forces throws into tight windows. The Boilermakers can stay competitive in this one if the TD to INT ratio stays reasonable.
Devine Redding, Indiana RB: It’s no secret that a Kevin Wilson offense likes to throw it all over the yard. But over the last couple of years, Indiana’s offense has been more prolific because of the ability to get things going on the ground as well. On that note, Redding has been okay this year, but hasn’t really been the beast he was expected to be. As a result, the Hoosier offense has taken a step back a bit. This should be a good opportunity to crank out some ground and pound yards.
Richard Lagow, Indiana QB: The arm strength and talent of Lagow is undeniable, but he’s been unable to put it fully together this year. When he’s on, he make every throw you can ask of a QB, but his accuracy and decision making have been questionable at times. The Indiana offense has been poor in the red zone largely because of an inability to make the throws in space needed when the field shrinks. He should do just fine against a porous Purdue defense in this one, but if he’s not sharp, the Boilers might stand a chance.
4 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Indiana 34-7
Dave: Indiana 31-20
Phil H.: Indiana 34-20
Philip R.: Coming