Oh, Hi-yo! It's a Predicto!
The Boilermakers follow up their moral victory against Louisville by welcoming the Ohio Bobcats and septuagenarian coach Frank Solich to West Lafayette for a Friday night game under the now-permanent lights at Ross-Ade Stadium. It will be only the 9th home night game in program history and Purdue will be wearing special, chromed-out lids.
The team should be fired up, the crowd should be lit, the whole atmosphere should be great. You’ll find Purdue on a national broadcast for the second straight week to open the season (FS1). Let’s hope they remain fun to watch. What does the crew think?
Does Purdue have a chance?
Dave: Turns out the fine folks at Purdue have done that work for us: they are 4-2-1 in regular-season Friday games (0-2 in bowl games), and 1-1 at night, splitting a pair of games at Miami (YTM) in 1949 and 1951. (The tie was a scoreless tie at #11 UCLA in 1959.) Their last regular-season Friday game was a 51-14 thumping of IU on Black Friday in 1995.
Does Purdue have a chance? Heck yes. The fallout from the weekend's play flipped Purdue to a favorite in Massey's ratings; granted, a one-point favorite is basically a tossup, but we'll take what we can get. Given last week's performance, the answer to this question most weeks should be Yes. (The Michigan and Wisconsin games ... let's wait to talk about those.)
Michael: Yes. I mean, I didn't think they had a chance against UL, and they certainly showed that they did. I'm not sure the level of intensity they showed last Saturday night is repeatable every week, but I don't think they'll need that for Ohio in the same way they needed that for UL. They can absolutely win this game. As of Tuesday morning, Purdue is -4.5.
Aneesh: A. B. S. O. L. U. T. E. L. Y. Get outta here with these nonsense questions Purdue is winning out and going to the B10 Champ game and I've already bought my tickets LET'S GO.
J: They’re favored and they went toe-to-toe with a top 16 team with the defending Heisman winner. So yeah.
Bdowd: A very good one, I believe.
Purdue wins if....
Dave: Purdue wins if they stay away from killer turnovers. I never thought giving Louisville 7 points would make that the final margin, and of course it didn't hand the Cardinals the game, but if that pass wasn't picked off, who knows where the game would have gone? The Boilers should expect a much better performance against the Bobcats, but giving up defensive points can be just as fatal against weak teams as it was against a ranked team.
Michael: They establish a respectable rushing attack. Can they do this without Jones? Maybe. Knox looked good in stretches but the running game was fairly poor against UL. Anything that can't be blamed on UL could be blamed on the OL, which doesn't bode well for whomever has the ball. I have no idea how stout the Ohio DL is; beating the brakes off Hampton isn't a good predictor, but I do know that Purdue only had 51 yards rushing vs Louisville. Secondary indicators will be whether they're able to turn Ohio over while not making dumb mistakes themselves, and whether they can prevent Ohio from making big plays on offense.
Aneesh: They can stay poised enough to respond when a MAC team punches pack. It's really easy to maintain the chip on your shoulder when a team with 6 FBS victories in the last four years is going toe-to-toe with a top 20 team led by the reigning Heisman winner...it's tougher when the biggest star on the opposing sideline is Frank "White Walker" Solich. In recent years, Ohio has been a tough team, and brings back LB experience to throw at Purdue's quick passes. If Purdue can use a quicker, rapid passing attack to throw the experienced Bobcat pass defense off balance, they'll have a shot at pulling away in Brohm's first home game.
J: Purdue wins if they play the same game with the same intensity as last Saturday night. No way that team loses to Ohio.
Bdowd: QBs eliminate the 'big' mistake (pick 6, red zone ints) and the defense plays as intensely as last week...sounds simple...kinda is.
The players seem to have adopted a "F moral victories" mantra. Is there a moral victory to be had Friday night?
Dave: There is no moral victory Friday. Come away with a W and feel like the turnaround has begun; drop the home opener, and we'll have questions about the other tossups, too.
Michael: I mean, we're at the 'winning is the only moral victory' stage here. While a good team learns from any loss, no one is going to feel good about putting up a good fight against Ohio if they ultimately fail.
Aneesh: Looking at this objectively with serious-face glasses on, Ohio (last year's MAC runner-up) is probably better than two B10 teams on Purdue's schedule: Rutgers and Illinois. If Louisville clubbed Purdue by the predicted 25 point spread, we'd all point to the talent disparity left in Hazell's wake, feel moderately OK with a two-win season, and settle for a close last-second loss against a very good MAC team.
But...Purdue looked *great* last week. It was *amazing* to be a Boilermaker football fan last week. Purdue almost shocked the world on national TV last week, and Purdue sure as hell looked better than they've looked in about a decade last week. There's no leaving Ross Ade this Friday night with a moral victory. I want a real W.
Looking back, this Friday might be one of the most consequential games Brohm will coach at Purdue. Capitalize on the Louisville momentum, feed the swagger Purdue so clearly had in Indianapolis, and bank the wins they're supposed to have, and this era of Purdue football could transcend any talent disparity. Stumble, at home, in the lights, against a team much worse than Louisville, and it'll be a rough year ahead for Purdue players and fans alike.
J: I mean, if they were to lose, the coaching staff would need to find a way to make it something to learn from and then move on. But no, not really. You have to win Friday night to have a chance at whatever win projection you had for the black and gold.
Bdowd: I don't think so. Get the 'W'.
Final score prediction?
Dave: Ohio's coming off a 59-0 win over I-AA Hampton, which isn't as impressive as it sounds (not every HBCU is Howard). The Boilers might well be the toughest challenge on the Bobcats' schedule, since Ohio doesn't play Western Michigan this year. (Toledo is on the schedule, but a resurgent Boiled squad might finish higher than the Rockets.) Based on what I saw Saturday, it's fair to expect a win against a team that doesn't have Lamar Jackson at QB. Purdue 41, Ohio 21.
Michael: I want to predict a Purdue win, but I'm still a little hesitant. While Saturday's game made me a believer in Anthrop as a respectable WR, he's not a star, and his fellow WRs aren't great. Too many drops, too little ability to stretch the field. The running game isn't looking great either, perhaps because teams like UL can put more guys closer to the line, knowing that they're not going to get beat over the top.
Can Ohio follow that blueprint? They don't have UL's personnel, but Purdue has to show that they can make them hurt if they pay such little respect to Purdue's passing game. I'm in a 'show-me' position there. So if the WRs can't get it done, and the RBs can't get much more done out of the backfield, then what does that leave? Get the RBs in space off the line of scrimmage and scheme your way to mismatches (eg. Worship's TD catch-and-run against UL) or hit your TEs underneath and try to sustain drives with a bunch of short plays.
Seems reasonable, but Purdue still lacks a punch on offense, and it's hard to go 80 yards per possession if you're only getting four or so yards per down. Just saying, chewing up yards in small chunks means you're going to be faced with a lot of 3rd downs (and Purdue was 5-14 on 3rd down against UL.) On defense, Purdue played a lot of 'bend-don't-break' and frankly got lucky with a bunch of fumbles (two especially REALLY deep in Purdue territory, negating scoring opportunities which would have made the final score far less exciting). It's highly unlikely that they'll get the same level of luck this Friday.
I think Ohio can move the ball, at least a little. It's hard to imagine this Purdue team scoring more than 21-28 points, so can the defense hold teams to less than that? I'm not sure yet. I have faith in Brohm, but I don't think this team has enough pieces yet. Then again, this is Ohio, and not Ohio State. If I was setting the betting line, it'd be a pick 'em, but since I need to give a number, I'll say Purdue escapes with a 24-21 win.
Aneesh: All that builds up to...a close game, I think. Ohio is a lot more solid than people realize, and under Solich might be the steadiest non-major program in the country. All they do is win between 6-8 games, limit unforced errors, and somehow eke out close wins. But I'll say Purdue rides it's home-field, lights-driven momentum and wins a close game, 37-33.
Also: Always read Bill Connolly's team profiles. Here's his in-depth dive on Ohio.
J: Purdue comes out fired out of a cannon in the Friday night game under the lights. It feels like big time high school football or small time Big Ten football. Regardless, Purdue rolls due to superior effort and energy, winning 34-24.
Bdowd: Purdue 37, Ohio 27. The turnaround officially begins Friday night. Let's play football.