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
Is Jeff Brohm to Louisville inevitable?
The last name Brohm and Louisville are about as synonymous as any could be with a single program. After all, Jeff Brohm’s father is the man who laid the foundation for the modern era at Louisville.
So, with Bobby Petrino out as the head coach of the Cardinals it was only natural that speculation would run rampant about the hottest Power 5 head coach in the country — Jeff Brohm.
Brohm has proven what a good leader and a good turnaround artist can look like in college football. But, would he really leave after just two seasons at the helm of the Purdue program?
ESPN personality and Indianapolis radio host Dan Dakich seems to be under that impression. He tweeted out the following on Thursday:
Just earlier this week, Brohm addressed the obvious connections and the speculation that would come with the Louisville opening.
“I’ve heard the noise just like everyone else,” Brohm said during his regular weekly press conference on Monday morning. “I think unfortunately it’s important for me to not comment on any speculation right now. I have a job, and we’ve got work to do, and a lot of it. We’re going to put forth the effort to do that. We’ve got a tough opponent this week, and then we’ve got to go to IU, and we’re going to have to play well, and we’re going to have to play much better than we did last week, so I’m going to stay focused on that, and very appreciative of the job I have right now.”
While that is all well and good, Brohm didn’t exactly smack down the rumors for after this season. He didn’t make a definitive statement that he would be back in 2019 and end the speculation. He chose to say he would focus on the here and now and leave the other stuff open to interpretation.
So, it’s hard to ignore when sources inside the state of Indiana are attempting to break a story about the Louisville-Brohm situation.
It’s also hard to ignore the fact that Brohm is also one of the most private coaches in all of college football. He doesn’t even have an agent to help handle contract negotiations for example.
Given that, is it prudent to believe reports from one source of information as the gospel of what will happen?
After all, we’ve seen this song and dance with plenty of coaching searches in the past. Names were “hired per sources” or the “target of the search” per sources plenty of times in the last three years, only to find out none of it was even true.
Perhaps these sources are angling for some piece of the pie should Brohm move or to stir the pot and force Louisville in a different direction? For those who have never sourced information before, the trick is figuring out the meaning behind the information you are given.
We can also lean on the past to inform us if a rumor or report is true.
In the case of Brohm all we have to do is look to last year to know that he is at least open to the idea of coaching elsewhere. There was serious flirtation between Brohm and Tennessee before Brohm chose to take his name out of the running.
It isn’t as if he has the ties that bind him to Purdue in any meaningful way, and that’s what the Tennessee job flirtation told me.
Additionally, are there multiple reports of this happening?
The good news is that it’s Dan Dakich and Dan Dakich alone making this claim. In the hour since his claim there is not another single credible report of the same information.
Breathe for a moment Purdue fan, it may not be as over as you think it is.
Purdue has money, new facilities in the works and a wide open division. Louisville? That money situation has really dried up, the program and athletic department have taken massive hits and it’ll mean another rebuild just two years after starting his latest project.
Will the power of family connections win out? Maybe…but it isn’t nearly as inevitable as many in the media are leading people to believe.
Until Jeff Brohm or Louisville make that announcement, skepticism remains the smartest option.
Purdue’s Moore puts Big Ten on notice in record-setting debut
There are no moral victories in college football. So, don’t expect the Purdue Boilermakers to be happy about a 31-27 loss to Northwestern in the 2018 season and Big Ten opener.
But, despite the loss at least one individual showcased an ability to tear up Big Ten defenses nearly at will.
That person is true freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore.
All that Moore did was go out and set a single-game record for the most all-purpose yardage with 313 combined yards. He broke Otis Armstrong’s school record, set in 1972 of 312 yards.
It wasn’t just one part of the game that stood out either, as Moore did it as a receiver, a running back and a kick returner too.
Just how impressive was Moore’s debut? He nearly broke the record in just one half of his college football debut. Moore had 302 of his 313 yards in the first half alone.
That first half total broke down like this — 79 rushing, 98 receiving and 125 on kickoff returns.
HIs big night almost looked like it wouldn’t get off the ground though. On the first drive of the game, Moore broke loose up the middle of the Northwestern defense, only to drop a good pass from Elijah Sindelar.
Moore made up for it quickly though. He single-handily put his team back in the game after watching the Wildcats go up 14-0 quickly in the first quarter.
First it was a 32-yard touchdown reception and less than three minutes later it was a 76-yard touchdown run. The rushing touchdown was the longest by a Purdue player since an 82-yard effort from Akeem Hunt back in 2014.
Clearly the stats are impressive, but it was the how it happened that also matters. Moore had the Ross-Ade crowd oohing and awwing and on the edge of their seats every time he touched the ball.
When was the last time that happened?
Brohm being able to get Moore wasn’t just getting lucky with an underrated recruit either. Purdue won a major battle to get him on campus and he came to Purdue as the highest-rated recruit to ever done the black and gold.
He had just about every school in the country seeking out his talent, with Ohio State, Alabama and the like in the mix. Now, some believe those schools soured on him as he didn’t sprout up height wise over the final two years of high school, but that speed man. That speed.
But, it was Purdue that overlooked his lack of height and saw his blazing speed as an asset that could be used.
It was on full display on Thursday night against a quality Northwestern defense and special teams units.
Moore plus Jeff Brohm’s innovative offensive mind could be a very dangerous combo.
It also put the rest of the Big Ten on notice — Purdue isn’t going to go quietly in any game this season.
Early Big Ten results remind us why bowl season matters
Don’t tell Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue that their bowl games and wins were meaningless, because they sure weren’t.
Bowl season is usually a cruel, cruel mistress to the Big Ten. Let’s just say hopes always start high and results crash fans of the teams in the conference back down to earth quickly.
There are a myriad of reasons and excuses often given, and some of them are valid (or at least used to be). Examples usually include the fact that 90 percent of the games are played well outside of the Big Ten footprint and the old reliable of huge disparities in caliber of opponents (addressed a bit by the last change in bowl alignment).
So, as the 2017-18 bowl season got underway it was hard to expect much from the Big Ten. After all, the conference teams managed to go just 3-7 last year and only one of those three wins was very meaningful (Wisconsin over Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl).
Then the games were played and we here in Big Ten country have been reminded just how meaningful bowl season really is.
Purdue not only got to a bowl game, but it won its bowl game against another offense-first team in Arizona. Sophomore quarterback Elijah Sindelar overcame injury and threw for nearly 400 yards (396 to be exact) and four touchdowns, while running back D.J. Knox had 101 yards on 11 carries.
If you believe bowl games don’t matter, just talk to anyone on the Purdue or Arizona sidelines following that game. Going 7-6 in season one under Jeff Brohm was huge, but most importantly it sets new expectations for the program’s floor going forward.
When is the last time there were anything but dreadful expectations surrounding the Purdue football program? If anything, that should tell you just how meaningful bowl games are.
But, it was just Purdue’s three-point win out in the Foster Farms Bowl that showcased the importance of winning so-called meaningless bowl games.
Michigan State not only rebounded from a 3-9 season to go 9-3, but it just beat a fellow top 25 program in Washington State. Sure, you can point to Luke Falk being out of the game, but the Spartans looked like the Spartans that climbed their way to the College Football Playoff just two years ago again.
Dantonio’s crew pounded the ball down the throat of Wazzu’s smaller defensive line and that led to LJ Scott putting up 110 yards on just 18 carries. Meanwhile, the Spartans defense held the Cougars high-scoring offense to just 17 points in the 42-17 win in the Holiday Bowl.
Think MSU will be overlooked by bowl games in the future again?
Even Iowa, who had the most maddening up and down season of any Big Ten team, pulled off a win in the opening game for a Big Ten team this bowl season.
It wasn’t always pretty, but in a matchup of two 7-5 teams, what else would you expect? Most importantly, the game showed that Iowa could win a close game against a quality defense. For a team full of young players at key positions, it’s a win that builds momentum heading in to the offseason.
All three wins set up increase expectations for next season and there’s nothing better than expecting quality football and increased competition within the Big Ten at all.
Of course, the rest of the Big Ten teams in bowl games have some huge matchups to play in.
It’s a nice start to reversing the trend of horrible bowl seasons for the conference, but there’s a lot of work still to be done for the rest of the conference. With three teams in New Year’s Six bowl games, winning them puts the conference at the forefront of the offseason discussion and as much as we hate to admit it — perception is reality these days in the college football world.
That was the lesson we were supposed to take away from the College Football Playoff committee’s selection of Alabama over an actual conference champion, right?
With a snub from the College Football Playoff committee this season, a huge turnaround in bowl game results would mean a whole lot to the reputation – fair or not – of the conference going forward.
Let’s see if the early momentum can be maintained by the big dogs of the B1G.
Jim Harbaugh vs. Purdue heats up, but are both sides right?
Jim Harbaugh has made Purdue public enemy No. 1 on his list, just a few weeks after the Boilermakers hosted the Wolverines. Apparently he is still miffed at the treatment of Wilton Speight following a potentially life-threatening spine injury and the locker rooms at Ross-Ade Stadium.
He brought it up a few times since, but continued to hammer on both situations this past week.
Our Andy Coppens takes a look at the accusations leveled by Harbaugh, Wilton Speight’s dad and Purdue’s answer back.
Could it be that both sides have valid points and what are the solutions to this issue?