First off, we've heard from a few people that the podcast had some issues with buffering- this time, the tech problems aren't user error, but instead were due to blog talk radio's speed problems. I'm not sure what can be done about it, but we'll look into trying to make it better.
Also, our pal who's out on the island of Iowa wrote us a note following the podcast asking if the kick coverage game might come into play v. Oregon. I think the answer has to be yes, if the kick coverage team looks as they did versus Toledo. One positive about last week's coverage teams, they were getting down the field quickly, so the speed of the coverage wasn't the issue. But, the spacing was very bad at times and the tackling woes that reared their ugly head on defense also showed time and time again on special teams. Oregon's kick returner is currently 29th in the nation per kick return, but he didn't get a ton of action last week in the offensive explosion versus Boise...Thurmon isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he's smart and has been around a while as he's a Senior DB. If he gets space, he'll take advantage of it.
Alright, now to this week's picks:
Purdue's strong secondary should put a damper on the Ducks deep game, but the inexperienced linebackers may be exploited time and time again over the middle for 8-15 yards at a time.
I think Purdue will be able to rush the ball, and I expect Taylor and Bolden to total over 200 yards combined again. They'll be needed, as I expect Elliott and the receivers to have a difficult time getting open looks.
Oregon seems somewhat susceptible on special teams. Purdue needs to take advantage of that and routinely put the ball near the 30 to start drives.
The overall inexperience of the team, combined with playing on the road will hinder Purdue. That said, Purdue has a chance to win the game, just not a large chance. I give them about a 15% shot to pull this game out.
If the Boilers come out of the gate, punch Oregon in the mouth and the defense holds them down in the first half, I like our chances. However, if Oregon looks to be feeling it early and takes a first quarter lead -- especially if quickly -- then it's going to be a very long night for the Boilermakers.
Winning this game is possible for Purdue. For the first time in a while, I have some optimism for Purdue going into tough road destinations. Maybe it's because the Hope era feels like a fresh start in that respect as well. However, while a win is possible, it's not likely. As long as the Boilers compete, don't quit and don't look overwhelmed, I'll be proud of them. But I think it's really asking too much to predict a win for the Boilers at this stage.
While I'm not confident that our Boilers will win this game, I haven't lost any sleep over it. What I mean is I'm not particularly worried yet simply because most are expecting a loss at this point. Purdue's a double-digit road dog against a team that should probably be ranked- none of those factors are favorable, especially when you look at the last few years. And granted, this isn't the same coaching staff, but a lot of the players are the same. Who knows how much of the old mentality is still in the system.
I look for Purdue to hang tough for much of the game, but I believe Oregon will blow it open in the end. As many of Purdue's players are wishing for their beds back home, Oregon's comfort in the Pacific Time Zone will be obvious. I look for Oregon's Senior tight end to have a couple back-breaking first downs toward the end of the game as Purdue continues to struggle with the underneath routes. The score might not tell how competitive Purdue is in this game...but I'm pretty sure a no-nonsense guy like Hope doesn't care too much for moral victories.
I think Kerrigan and Neal will have "louder" games...and if Purdue can control the trenches, I think Purdue wins. That said, experience wins out and speed kills.
I've said it before, I'll say it again- there's nothing more fun than watching your alma mater win a game that you don't expect them to win...here's a real opportunity for a very fun night, as none of us are expecting too much.
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.