Illinois Predicto: Clash of the Titans Edition
This exhausting season is nearly over (yay!). But before Purdue plays two of the worst defenses in the nation back-to-back, (most of) your pals at BS want to tell you some good news: There is hope!!
...read more below...
I’m an idiot. I always find ways to get myself to be a believer. And this is never more evident than this week, as Purdue plays what I so desperately want to believe is a winnable game. As I noted earlier in the week, Illinois hasn’t won a conference game in well over two years, is 3-7 on this season and hasn’t won since September 21. Yet they’re a touchdown favorite on the road in a Big Ten conference game. This tells you everything about Purdue’s season.
However, the Boilers have begun to come out of hibernation and I am confident they are still invested in this season and in the coaching staff’s vision. I think this game will be taken seriously.
My biggest concerns are that Nathan Sheelhaase is a legitimately good QB. He’s put up points against teams Purdue hasn’t (Illinois scored 35 against OSU last week, for example) and he’s been starting for years, so he’s not going to be easily rattled by the 28,000 screaming fans in Ross-Ade. I’m also concerned because Illinois may well be playing for Tim Beckman’s job – if the players care about that, maybe they’ll be even more fired up. I don’t know. What I do know is that Beckman is a poor game coach and Purdue will have an excellent chance if this is a close game in the final quarter, as the Illini may begin to tighten up and Beckman will begin to make bad choices.
I’ve said all along that I thought Purdue would win another game this year, even when things looked bad. When b-dowd told me a few weeks ago Illinois was terrible and that Purdue would beat them, I began to watch the Illini more closely and repeatedly found myself asking him if he was sure about that. I remain unsure, but I’m going to put my eggs in this basket: Danny Etling is improving, Coach Hazell is a better coach than Tim Beckman, it’s Senior Day and I expect the magical black helmets to return.
Purdue 24, Illinois 19
So. Tired. Please. Make. It. Stop.
Illinois is favored by 7. Purdue is 2-7 against the spread this year. I'm generally not a big believer in spreads though, so I think Purdue will over achieve this week and show them that they can allow Illinois to score 21 more points than them. Illinois scored 32 and 35 against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Purdue... not so much. Is the game winnable? Certainly. Has the defense show much capacity to stop anyone? Certainly not. Bleak story bleaker, I don't believe that Purdue's offense can score enough or Mostert can run back enough kicks to keep the game competitive.
Illinois - 38
Purdue - 17
Fresh off my near-hit of the Purdue-Eastern Illinois margin of victory (stopped clock, blind squirrel, etc.), I return to the wonder that is Purdue Football, 2013 Edition. Let us wonder what will happen Saturday.
California has managed to go nearly an entire season without an acceptable on-field performance, posting its lone win against I-AA Portland State (where I got about one-fourth of a master's before my budget was exceeded) by a whopping 7 points, and let me tell you, PSU is not exactly a top I-AA team. Arizona nearly handed the Bears a win, but in true Berkeley fashion, Cal handed it back politely. No sense taking this, dear Cats, you will get more use out of it than we will.
California's only remaining hope of a I-A win is at rival Stanford. Ha. ha. ha. I'm sure Urban Meyer will look at this game and think "how did we give up 34 points to that team?" (Cal, mind you. Stanford and Ohio State will not be playing this year unless Oregon State upsets the Ducks, Stanford knocks off presumably ASU for the Pac-12 crown, and then OSU doesn't leap someone to get into the nobody-cares game.) The Bears go into this game ranked #103 in Football Outsiders' F+ rankings, the second-worst power-conference team in the land. They will come out of it a few spots closer to Purdue.
Also, Purdue will lose to Illinois, 28-12.
The battle for the drivers seat of the B1G ten will occur this Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium. The 3-7 (0-6) Illini come into town to take on perennial powerhouse Purdue Boilermakers 1-9 (0-6) for a battle of epic proportion.
Both of these teams have struggled all year but the Illini have showed a bit more promise offensively than the Boilers. That being said, Purdue is coming off one of their best showings of the year in their loss against Penn State, (So you're saying there's a chance.)
If Purdue is going to avoid a conference season with no wins then this would more than likely be the game to handle it. A win would also get Purdue out of the CBS bracket of the four worst teams in football, where Purdue is the one seed, no argument here. (http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/24250312/vote-fourteam-playoff-to-determine-the-worst-of-the-worst)
I'm expecting the Boilermakers to come out to a riled up 30,000 fans against the Fighting Illini and put on a show, okay maybe not, but I hope this one is at least close.
Purdue is a 7 point dog offshore.
Call Me Crazy
Purdue 28, Illinois 24
Outside of J’s very early season delusions of grandeur [Want me to dig up your prediction, hoss? - J], the BS staff has made some accurate, and honestly, pretty easy predictions this season. As Purdue has shown little improvement, we’ve had a hard time believing they’d compete the following week. I think most of us have had some swigs of the almost-sweet Kool-Aid this week.
But, look a bit closer, you’ll see a Purdue offense that actually put together a few drives last week, a special teams unit that showed up and a defense that…did you see that Mostert return??? Ignoring, or trying to ignore the defense is nearly imperative for my sanity at this point…but the reason why is still shocking.
Purdue’s front can’t stop anybody from running the ball…and teams that have been decent at doing so have gashed Purdue time and again. The good news is Illinois is not a great running team…the better news for Purdue might be that Illinois is actually a statistically-worse rush defense than Purdue. I think that will matter.
I look for Akeem Hunt to put a game together in which he does a little bit of everything…and as he does that, Etling takes another step toward maturation.
Last week, one of my favorite plays of the game was when Etling streaked down the field to yell at his favorite target, Yancey after an incompletion. He clearly was trying to convey that #80 had made an incorrect route read and they had to be on the same page. Yancey might not play this week due to a sore hamstring…but that won’t stop Etling from connecting with Sinz and Anthrop with regularity.
Illinois is getting close to being historically bad while Purdue is just really bad for one season. Hazell helps Beckman to the door with a Boiler victory in the friendly, cold and quiet Ross-Ade Stadium.
To your call once more we rally, alma mater, hear our praise...