What the heck? I'm all in. Let's go bowling.
Michigan State's defense can't stop the Purdue offense. Only the Purdue offense can do that. If the defense can contain the Spartan running game (and that's a big if), then there's a good chance for a victory. If Bolden can carry the day and the offense can control the clock with long drives, as we saw last week, then Purdue wins the game.
Wisconsin and Michigan running backs tore through the line like J Money tears through a big bowl of whole grain toasted fiber flakes. Or is it the fiber flakes that tear through J Money? Regardless, the defense MUST do a better job of slowing, if not stopping, the running game.
I expect a pretty high scoring affair tomorrow.
I'm repeating myself time and time again, but if Purdue can play up to their potential then they will win the game. I believe we'll see that this week.
Big weekend for Purdue athletics. Basketball starts tonight and then tomorrow our boys take on MSU at Ross-Ade on senior day. Purdue needs this win in as desperate a way as you can need a win. Lose and the season is effectively over and, while it wouldn't be a complete disappointment of a year, we would all be sad for a while because they're now one win away from playing IU for not only the bucket, but for a bowl game. And making a bowl after a 1-5 start would be yoooge for the program.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Michigan State is going to be one of the toughest games they've had yet this year. MSU has some big uglies, they've got a potent offense and they play SOME defense. This isn't Michigan's secondary the Duke will be throwing against. Nor will it be Illinois' offense the Boilers are trying to stop. No, MSU is probably the best 5-5 team you're going to come across. They were my sleeper pick at the start of the season and, while a lot of people have been looking at this home game as a win for a few weeks (simply because it looked "easier" than trips to Madison and Ann Arbor), it most certainly is not.
How big a factor is playing at home? Well, it looked like no factor at all against NIU and NU. It looked like something of a factor against OSU. So we're back to the same spot we've been in all season, which is that it's nearly impossible to make a pick you feel confident about when it comes to the 2009 Purdue football team.
This is an emotional squad playing in an emotional game. Senior day for a lot of guys and we all have seen how much Coach Hope cares about these guys. They will be fired up and, hopefully, that correlates into being ready to play. One thing we've seen in pretty much every game outside of Wisconsin -- this team never looks afraid of anybody. Elliott is playing some confident football right now, Bolden seems to be getting right, Valentin and Smith have developed into the guys we knew they could be, and even the coaching decisions are looked less and less often boneheaded. It feels like things are smoother than they've been in a while and, of course, the team has won 3 of 4 and in that time has broken some major negative strings (losses to ranked opponents, losses on the road, losses at Michigan, etc.).
So how much of a factor is confidence? Senior day? Emotion? Aren't these things that bored sportswriters tend to make more out of than they're worth?
This game is critical to MSU as well, as they need a win to become bowl eligible. But so did Michigan. Gah!
In the end, you have to look at talent. Michigan State, in my opinion, is more talented than Purdue. And most of the time, talent wins out. Yes, Purdue took down an immensely talented OSU team. So maybe we've already had our one anomaly for this season. It kills me to say this, but given the up and down nature of this team, I think they're due to break hearts again.
J has been secretly dating Mark Dantonio since August. I'm sorry, but I couldn't hold it in any longer. His long sighs and uncomfortable innuendo have finally led me to reveal the truth...I just can't stay silent anymore.
Alright, that was all a lie, but unlike J, I am not in love with the Spartans. I do like Dantonio and think, like Hope, he's got some mean in him, which is entertaining, he can recruit and his teams generally look well-prepared.
They're in the top-three of scoring offense...and the top-4 of the conference in scoring defense...solid, if not good. But their offensive numbers have gotten fat off of the likes of Montana State and Western Michigan. But their defense is legit and that's worrisome. They've held opponents under 21 points six times this season. But games aren't played on paper.
They're a good team...and, like Purdue, I think they see this game as a make or break game for their season. Teams that rely heavily on the run succeed versus this Purdue team...teams that rely on a pass-first offense don't fair as well. That's my key to the game.
Defensively, I think the turnover battle will swing in Purdue's favor on the shoulders of a few interceptions. I look for Bolden to have success catching the ball, but not much on the ground and Smith to go for more than 100...second shoot-out in two weeks.
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.