Ghosts of Champs Sports Bowls Past – The Maryland Predicto
You may recall the last time these two venerable football programs met on the field. The 2006 Champs Sports Bowl was when it perhaps became most clear that Joe Tiller had lost his fastball. The Boilermakers were manhandled 24-7 by a middling Terps squad. Eight years later Maryland joined the Big Ten and now the Boilers make their first trip to College Park.
Purdue enters Big Ten play with a winning record for the first time in Darrell Hazell’s tenure and is over .500 heading into October for the first time since Danny Hope’s final season in 2012. Good news, right? Things are on the upswing? Right….?
This week’s predicto rules:
--200 word limit on Purdue-Maryland (increased from last week because of the win)
--Name your favorite sports-related movie and why
As a guy who's practically got an English minor, I suppose I should say something like Chariots of Fire or Ironweed or something like that. (What, don't they teach Sports and Literature anymore? I saw they do classes on Games, though. If those were around in the '80s, I might have majored in English.) As a kid growing up in Bloomington, Breaking Away struck a chord with me, but it's pretty dated now. Bull Durham's not bad, obligatory Slap Shot mention, and a vote for Hoosiers because Indiana (although again, it's pretty dated, and it also skates over subjects that probably needed more depth), but honestly, I think it comes down to two movies: North Dallas Forty and Friday Night Lights.
Both movies dig into the atmosphere that surrounds football, albeit at different levels, and despite premiering 25 years apart, they touch on common subjects, both of which permeate the sport today. (That's particularly notable given the difference in the NFL PR machine in the '70s, when Peter Gent wrote the novel that North Dallas Forty is based on, and today's NFL, where a clueless Goodell seemingly chooses the worst possible response in every scenario that involves him.) Players are largely viewed as commodities, valuable only when they produce; the importance of team success overshadows everything; etc. (Sorry, for a minute there I was developing my own syllabus.)
If pressed, I'd have to go with Friday Night Lights. For the three of you who haven't seen it yet, or for those of you not familiar with the subject material, start with what you know about the importance of basketball in this state. Now spread that among four times as many people and keep the intensity the same. It's difficult to properly tell a story like that, and even harder to tell it well in three different formats ... but FNL does it. Texas high school football is something else, friends. [Full disclosure: I haven’t seen FNL. –J]
Saturday: the good news is that Bill Connelly's system pegs Purdue as a 4.3-win team, more than two wins above my prediction. The bad news is that's only because the Big Tenteen kind of sucks once you get past the top 4 teams or so. Northwestern, Illinois, and Penn State are all less than 10-point favorites on his site ... but they're still all favorites, as is Maryland. The Terrapins aren't that good, but that's still significantly better than where the Good Guys are now, and I don't expect Hazell to pick up a second career BOneGee road victory.
This season is a waste. It's a pointless exercise that's not going to do anything to further Purdue's program. No positives will come out of this season; all that's being done is our players are losing, our coaches are playing out the string, and our fans are learning that there's a whole swath of Saturday activities that don't involve Purdue football that are fun and fulfilling. Of course not every - or even most - seasons end positively, but there are usually some positives to be drawn when it's all said and done. I challenge anyone to tell me what positive thing will come out of playing the remaining games on the schedule. I won't hold my breath.
Maryland sucks but Purdue is incompetent to the point where's it's damn near a work of performance art. We are football deconstructed. We are to football what Andy Kaufman was to comedy. I've sired as many offspring in the Hazell era as he has Big Ten wins. I've got just about as good of a chance of spontaneously asexually reproducing as Hazell does to get his third conference win.
I'm not angry. And I'm absolutely not rooting for Purdue to lose. I'm rather not watch than root for them to fail. But in my opinion, the program is a joke right now. I'm not shaking my fist at the program, I'm rolling my eyes.
Maryland: I don't care
Purdue: It doesn't matter
Favorite sports movies: On the Waterfront (Marlon Brando's best performance, he acts the shit out of that scene), A League of Their Own ("he called me a talking pile of pig shit...") I don't really like sports movies. But I love sports documentaries. The drama is so raw. I loved all of the 30 for 30s (except for that really stupid one on fantasy baseball) and Hoop Dreams. I feel a documentary binge coming on...
I haven’t the slightest clue what to expect from Maryland, honestly. Their numbers make it seem like the Terps are a more incompetent team than our dear Boilers, but they’ve somehow managed to storm out to a 3-0 start.
Purdue, on the other hand, limped to their first high-major win last week. If you just caught the score, it looks like Purdue comfortably put away an inferior FBS foe and made a decent amount of progress. If you watched, however, you saw Purdue and Nevada barely play the game of American football in the first half, and Nevada choke away a very manageable game-tying field goal. Blough looked great on that last drive, but good lord did that game overall look like a train wreck.
I know a win is supposed to be a win, but if you’re a sap like me and go out of your way for this team, you’ve got a right to feel awful about this team. I think they cover the spread, but lose pretty handily to Maryland this Saturday.
Spread: Maryland -11
Favorite sports move? C’mon.
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes are perfect, White Men Can’t Jump is perfect, Wesley Snipes is so perfectly awful at basketball, Woody Harrelson is so perfectly incredible at basketball and trash talking, this movie is such a perfect movie about race, this movie is also such a perfect movie about zones, I hope they induct this perfect movie into every hall of fame.
I think it's fair to say that our Boilers are better than they've been in the past three seasons under Hazell. A few key statistics are up, they're scoring a bit and moving the ball and last week, they tackled a bit better than the previous games. They didn't do much to improve their own depth in the pre-conference as the drop off in talent when you get past the ones is pretty apparent still.
Maryland is one of the most mediocre 3-0 teams an opponent could ask for. Their wins come against some pretty meh opponents and they didn't light the world on fire while beating them. In fact, Purdue leads Maryland in a few categories...but at the end of the day, it's about what your eyes tell you.
Here's some fun: Purdue isn't in the bottom of the league in passing and total offense (see stat attached stat line). Markell Jones has shown flashes of why we're excited, mixed in with a healthy peppering of fumbles to keep us humble. Similarly, Blough has put up some nice numbers; over 315yds passing/game...but his ints have come at key times when Purdue needed efficiency.
Hazell has never won two games in a row at Purdue. He's only won ONE road game in four years. A win over Maryland would build Hazell's case as starting to deserve a longer look for another season from his new boss. So now, our Boilers, as they look toward College Park, MD stand on the precipice of mediocrity. Who'd a thunk it?
This one is kinda important for Coach Haze...These Boilers have a legit chance to win THREE straight...two of those at home. Truly unprecedented stuff for Hazell's Boilers, even if against lousy competition.
Some of my BS pals are rooting against Purdue so we can be put out of our misery. I get it, but I'm not even close to doing that. I'm rooting for a miracle in which Hazell starts looking like Fat Jack. Don't worry naysayers, It's not gonna happen. Coaching is about preparation and accountability as much as it is about gameday moves.
I generally think sports movies are horrendous...from awful casting, to movie makers not knowing the game, to generally horrible sports scenes in key junctures of the film. Any Given Sunday and Driven suck nuts, for instance.
But I'm sure I could think of a handful that held my attention. Foxcatcher was interesting...but I haven't wrestled since the sixth grade, so that's an easier sell.
The three that came to mind when J commissioned this task were Rush, Hoosiers and Field of Dreams.
Maybe because it came out when I was a kid, or because friends of mine were extras in it, or because I had played in gyms that were featured in it, or because I'm from the state, I'm biased...even still, Hoosiers is a great movie. The fact that it's a basketball movie in my state with a crappy title makes it memorable. That's my favorite...plus Gene Hackman always reminds me of my Grandpa...so there you have it.
I was among those in the wrong last week in picking Purdue to lose. And if I told you a team was down double digits just before halftime, turned the ball over four times and STILL won by double digits, you’d probably say that team must be pretty damn good, right? Well, that’s what our Boilers did vs Nevada. As Dave mentioned in the postgame, Nevada was not a good team. But hey, a win is a win. Coach DH has a legit (“nonzero chance,” as Aneesh likes to say) shot at a 2-0 Big Ten start and a 4-1 overall start. I cannot imagine how many people’s heads would explode if that happened.
Don’t worry, it won’t.
As for sports movies, I often come back to rewatchability. How many are ones that when you see them come on, you just can’t turn them off? For me, Hoosiers is in there, as noted by others here, but I’d probably also put Days of Thunder in that category, too, so maybe that’s not a good measure. Those who know me know that I’m a big baseball fan, yet I never really liked Bull Durham that much. Maybe it was because Tim Robbins couldn’t have looked less athletic if he had tried. Or maybe it was because even back then, Susan Sarandon looked like somebody’s grandmother trying to be sexy. For baseball movies, Major League is at the top of the list for me. Charlie Sheen actually had a pitcher’s motion and the comedy and cast was terrific, particularly for its era. Winning out, though, I think for me is one that is both true and patriotic, so Miracle wins the day for me.