Staring Down the Barrel of 1-7
As Saturday’s debacle wound down and since then, there have been many disgusted fans voicing their opinions on social media and this site. Some call for the firing of coordinators, others the AD. Still others thing everyone needs to go, including Coach Hazell. And then there are of course people who think a QB change might be appropriate right about now. I tend to think none of these are really likely just yet – in fact, the only thing I could see happening during the season would be the QB change. I mean, what’s the harm there, really? Austin Appleby is now 2-8 as a starter and his last (and only) win versus an FBS level foe was his first start last October against Illinois. Purdue has not beaten a Big Ten opponent at home since Danny Hope’s final game. Mercy. The bad news I have for you is this: it’s not going to get better anytime soon. Sure, Purdue could come out and surprise us in one of the upcoming games, but let’s live in reality and base our expectations on what we’ve seen so far, both this season and in the past two, because it’s all connected.
The Boilers play a MAC team this weekend with a soft defense but a high-flying offense. Wait, wait, I’ve seen this movie before! Yes, in fact it was just Labor Day weekend when Purdue played a program with a suspect defense – and with players collapsing on the field all day, in fact – and not even that great of an offense….and gave up 41 points and lost.
This past weekend, Purdue put up 24 points on a stout defense and let an offense many had questioned roll up 44 on them (one TD came on the punt block). I’ve seen people saying that BG’s defense is just so terrible that Purdue should be able to run all day on them. Hey, we felt the same way about Indiana State and Purdue chose to throw the ball a ton. I guess, for fun? That John Shoop always keeps you guessing.
No, my friends, it’s looking more and more like BG is going to come in here and hand Purdue a MAC-delivered whipping for the third consecutive season. When was the last time a Purdue coach lost to MAC teams in his first three seasons? Wait, don’t answer. I’m concerned it’s never happened. Hey, making history!
Purdue is 4-4 versus the MAC since Joe Tiller retired. Cowboy Joe was 13-2 versus the MAC. Take from that what you will.
But it goes beyond the likely loss this weekend. The first four conference games are at Michigan State, vs Minnesota, at Wisconsin, vs Nebraska. Goodness, that’s ugly. At MSU and at Wisconsin are surefire, Sharpie-level losses. While I might go short of putting the Minnesota and Nebraska games in Sharpie, I’ll at least put them in regular pen.
A friend of mine told me Minnesota is a potential victory and he pointed to their barely being able to handle Kent State (when, by comparison, Illinois smoked Kent and I think Illinois is the next shot at a win). While this is not poor logic, I just don’t think it works that way. Football is a game of matchups and focus. Sometimes a team just isn’t ready to play or perhaps looks past a patsy opponent. I think it’s possible that this is what happened with Minnesota vs Kent. But it doesn’t matter – Minnesota is a team that is well-coached, well-prepared and heading in the direction we can only dream about at Purdue. And yes, Purdue had a 31-20 lead at the half last year on the Gophers. We can cling onto that in our sleep, but Purdue also had leads on Notre Dame last year, Marshall this year, Virginia Tech, IU last year, etc. They don’t hold leads, as Dave pointed out the other day.
My point is, I feel as though a 1-7 record with an 0-4 conference start is damn near a lock. I’ve yet to see anything that makes me have any doubt about writing that down. As we say all-too-often here at BS, I really hope the boys prove me wrong.