Purdue-Wisky Predicto: Whiskey May Be Needed
Last weekend, the BS crew (and most fans) were pretty dark when it came to predicting the UND game. This week, the Boilers travel to their own personal house of horrors, Camp Randall Stadium. Ahh, Camp Randall, where the fans are rotund and smell of beer and cheese. And the men are worse!
Okay, I could go on for a while making jokes at Wisconsin's expense, but hey, we're better than that here... aren't we?
Earlier this week, I went on Madtown Badgers' podcast (J here) to answer some questions about Purdue (not sure if their podcast isn't posted yet or what), and one of the things they asked me about was Coach Hazell's hat. They said they found his odd folding of it frustrating and that it didn't look right. I guess when you're getting fashion criticism from Wisconsonites, you know you're......actually probably doing something right. Don't worry, Wisconsin, those massive sweatshirts with the huge letters should be back in style any day now.
In their analysis for the game, Madtown Badges has this nugget:
While this is the third home game of the year, it’s the first one that isn’t an absolute gimmie. It’s also the first conference game of the year and the first game that matters towards trying to get win the Big Ten for the fourth straight year. The students shouldn’t need much more motivation than that, and I think with the 2:30 start time, the stands will be full to start the game.
Well, that almost sounds like a breadcrumb of respect. Which, really, is probably why teams like Wisconsin quietly rumble to conference championships -- they don't overlook anyone, are well-coached and have big Wisconsin dairy farm boys on the line. Throw in an always strong running attack, a QB who can win games for you while still looking Wisconsinish and a large WR target, and you've got a formula for success.
The Badgers started the year with two shutouts before losing in oddball fashion at Arizona State last weekend. What do the BS boys think? Glad you asked...
J: 2-1 (however, I should give myself extra points because I was the only one with any faith that last week's game would be close)
It's still too early to know for sure whether what we saw last weekend was nearly an upset of a solid top-25 team or simply the Boilers surprising a poorly-coached, poorly-prepared team who only gets the press they do because of their name. The Irish may turn out to have a bad defense (although that seems unlikely), but even so, for one game, John Shoop looked like he actually had this offense thing figured out, and Rob Henry finally got the plays he needed to show off his skills. If you keep track of moral victories, Purdue certainly earned one last weekend.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, reaped some of the karma that their previous coach had sown, watching a confusing series of events carry away their last-second chance at a winning field goal. (It makes you wonder if finding the proper spot for your kicker is perhaps not always the most important thing at the end of a game.) New head coach Gary Andersen will use his experience in these situations to ... oh wait, he actually doesn't have that experience. Like Hazell, his pedigree is short, although unlike Hazell, he had some uninspiring seasons at a second-tier school to start his career. Maybe this is evidence that Andersen can build programs, and maybe it's evidence that he had one good season and then lucked into the Wisconsin job.
Who knows? In either event, his Badgers will be hosting the Good Guys, and they'll not be in a welcoming mood, which is no surprise. Purdue hasn't won at Camp Randall Stadium since 2003, and hasn't won there by more than a touchdown since 1977. Purdue's last visit ... let us not speak of it. There are plenty of signs that this visit will not be the same, but Wisconsin, despite the Arizona State loss, still looks to be a decent team, and they are more than likely to give their future division opponents all that they can handle and then some. If Henry's problem in the first two games was that he hadn't yet mastered the complex under-center offense that Shoop wants to run, hopefully the Notre Dame game is a sign that he's getting it down.
If that's the case, Purdue could make this game closer than most will expect. I'm still skeptical. I think Notre Dame suffered from a lack of focus after the Michigan loss (the Purple-Faced Guy sure knows how to manage that, doesn't he?), and I'm afraid the Boiler offense isn't yet ready for a test like Wisconsin. I'd love to be as wrong as I was last week.
Purdue 7 6 3 3 - 19
Wisconsin 14 10 10 10 - 44
For the second week in a row the Boilermakers will be facing a ranked opponent coming off a tough loss, the difference, this one is at Camp Randall. The past two times in Madison the Boilers have lost 99-17, needless to say, it's a tough place to play. I just can't see Purdue getting this one done. Wisconsin tends to kick the daylight out of Purdue teams, an seems to enjoy it (payback for basketball I guess). Being a 24 point underdog I say Wiscy covers this weekend.
Wisconsin 45, Purdue 14
There are, as always, two ways to view last weeks game. The positive is that is that they played well (except for ~4 minutes) and can use that as a springboard to future success. The (given that I am a Purdue fan) more likely case is that they were way up for last weeks game and because they lost, they will not be up for this game and thus we will see the blowout we were all expecting last week.
The team has demonstrated a fragile psyche in general, so I was glad to see them come back to score a TD after giving up a bunch of points in rapid fashion. The team from the first two weeks would've folded. Looking back at Kent States first year under Hazell, I believe they started 1-5 and finished the year winning 4 out of 5. Maybe we're seeing that same trend of a turnaround, but it's way too early for me to judge that after only 1 week. If the Boilermakers compete well this week, win or loss, then I'll start believing that a corner has been turned. There's a gauntlet ahead though and the team needs to gain some confidence.
Will that happen this week? I don't think so. I know past outcomes don't indicate future results but I've seen this script too many times in the past. The Boilers get up for a big game, lose in agonizing fashion and then go on to sputter the rest of the year. Thinking back to 2004 when the Wiscy game derailed what could've been a dream season. I know that a team from 10 years ago obviously has nothing to do with this years team, but for whatever reason similar outcomes seem to follow Purdue year in and year out.
Wisconsin - 42 Purdue - 13
I didn't like the UND match-up because of Notre Dame's combo of size and speed on defense, and I was proven wrong; Purdue can compete with a ranked opponent. BUT, that was at home.
Camp Randall will be loud, and the last time Purdue played in a hostile environment, Henry and the rest of the offense struggled to get plays off in time- I fear that will be a factor...that and Wisconsin will notice that Purdue ran the jailbreak screen every other play v. UND (might or might not be an exaggeration).
Wisconsin is strong, they're big and now, thanks to poor timing, they're angry.
I had a phone conversation with a Wisconsin fan this morning who felt like they were jobbed by the officials...but in reality, their coaches royally screwed them in the closing seconds by over-thinking and not kicking a 17 yard field goal. I believe field goal kicking will be less-important in this one as Wiscy's big uglies open large holes and force Purdue's linebackers to stop the run more than UND made them do last week. The end result will be trouble in bunches for the good guys.
Wisconsin 35 Purdue 17
Last week, everyone was negative on Purdue's chances and the Boilers competed and damn near won the game. This week, everyone is again negative on Purdue's chances. Maybe Coach Hazell's calling card for year one will be starting to tear down those preconcieved notions of how things we'll play out. As we all often say, we've seen this one before. We know what happens next. Purdue suffers a hangover from the emotionally-high and draining Notre Dame game and comes out sleepy. Will that change? Can it change? I don't even think a victory here is necessary. I simply think competing and showing that you belong on the same field with Wisconsin is enough, as it would be a huge step in the right direction.
Hope's teams wet themselves against Wisconsin, especially at Wisconsin. But this is a different coaching staff on their side, too. Is it possible last week's gut-wrenching loss will have more of a negative impact on the Badgers than we realize? Hey, anything's possible and that's why we're all excited about this season. It's why we watch.
Sadly, this weekend, I can't see the Boilers having enough to get it done. I think Wisconsin is a worse matchup for Purdue than Notre Dame was, as the Wisc line(s) will outsize the Boilers, Melvin Gordon will expose the linebacking corps and Abbrederis will expose the secondary.
I'll be looking to see if the Purdue coaching staff can again map out a game plan that gives the Boilermakers a chance in a game they are out-gunned in. If so, then I think our hopes that the team is incrementally improving each week will have merit and optimism should continue to creep into your mind. As for the outcome, I have to agree with the rest of the cast here.
Wisconsin 35, Purdue 13