All Over The Place
It's hard to be realistic when that realism is the exact opposite of what you want to happen and know can happen. I want Purdue to take out all of their frustration on Northwestern and beat them by 40. I think Purdue can beat Northwestern by 20 if the right Boilermaker team shows up. I expect them to win by about 8. I fear that they will lose by 10.
How can all of those things be for the same team? Maybe it's because of the growing pains. Maybe it's because of inexperience. It's been impossible to predict which team will show up for a quarter, let alone the entire game.
The running game has disappeared. Elliott has not settled in to the role as we hoped he would. The wide receivers seem to be better than expected. The secondary is worse than expected. The team in general is just all over the place.
So, what's my prediction? Who knows! Anything can happen this weekend.
For the record,
Purdue - 28
Northwestern - 20
No real analysis here
I'm not making my picks on real analysis much anymore. No, I'm going to just start picking based on weird things. Like the fact that it's Homecoming this weekend and I think Northwestern's beatable. Do I expect the Boilermakers to come out fired up and angry after last week's third consecutive frustrating loss? No, not necessarily. But I like to believe this sort of thing is possible. In my heart, I KNOW the Boilermakers can beat the Wildcats. But we've all seen what creative ways Purdue football finds to turn themselves into the coyote.
Based on the direction morale is potentially heading, we're running out of chances to see this team right the ship for 2009. Does that make this game even more critical? Perhaps. Losing this one puts the team at 1-4 and, really, the season will have truly felt like it will have slipped away. But win this one and you're 1-0 in conference. Not a bad place to be. Let's be optimistic and give some benefit of the doubt that the offense will continue to have solid pockets of performance and the defense will play like they did during their positive moments in the UND game -- that is, aggressive and confident, not back on their heels.
Northwestern's fanbase is shocked and perplexed- they were sure an 8-win season was in the cards...at the very least...but what they've seen is their beloved 'Cats falter and stumble to a 2-2 record...and one of their wins was by a thin margin v. a mighty squad from Eastern Michigan. They're a mirror image in a lot of ways, to our Boilers. They can't finish close games, don't tackle well and are pretty thin at the skilled positions. But, their quarterback, Kafka, is a mother this season...not with his legs, but his arm. He's completing over 70% of his passes. That's exceptional, especially for a guy who was known as a runner prior to this season. Last year, he rushed for 200+ v. Minnesota alone. But, this year, he's a bit off of that pace. He has ONE yard rushing. Sure, those numbers are skewed because of sacks, but, his biggest game running the ball was an explosion of 21 yards. Kind of hard to believe...But believe it!
So, the belly read option isn't working to well for the 'Cat...I know a cure for them- play Purdue. NIU's quarterback completely controlled the game running a similar style of game...but after a while didn't even have to run the option- he just got under center and handed the ball off. Oregon's Masoli ran the same offense brilliantly versus the Boilers for a few quarters and led the shaky Ducks to victory. And last week, while spelling Pickles, Dane Crist made Purdue's defense look like they thought it wasn't legal to touch the QB for the first 5 yards after scrimmage...at least for a quarter and one half.
So while Northwestern hasn't been able to finish of games, Purdue one ups them in that category and has lost three games in very creative fashion- (1) by giving away a lead, storming back and barely losing. (2) by letting a team kick their collective ass for 3 quarters and then fighting back to lose by a touchdown. (3) by fighting back from a 10pt deficit in the fourth quarter, to take the lead and hand the game to the opponent by playing a preventative base defense.
Purdue's team looks like it can cure what ails a lot of woes for their opponents...and while I think this team is good-enough to be 4-0, our Boilers stand at 1-3 heading into homecoming. I'll be there, I'll be cheering vociferously and hopeful they can finish...but until I see it with my own eyes, I don't believe they can close anyone out. Tackling will most-certainly be a problem once again this week.
Prove me wrong.
Where the Wabash spreads its valley, Filled with joy our voices raise.
From the skies in swelling echoes Come the cheers that tell the tale,
Of your vict'ries and your heroes, Hail Purdue! We sing all hail!
Hail, hail to old Purdue! All hail to our old gold and black!
Hail, hail to old Purdue! Our friendship may she never lack,
Ever grateful ever true, Thus we raise our song anew,
Of the days we've spent with you, All hail our own Purdue.