Come Home, Bucket – the IU Predicto
IU is trying to go to a bowl for the third straight year, something they haven’t done since the last time their basketball program was a national title contender – you know, a few decades ago. Back in 2006, in the late Terry Hoeppner’s second and ultimately final season with the Hoosiers (no snark here, RIP Hep), the Boilermakers welcomed in a hungry 5-6 Hoosier squad looking for their first postseason appearance in 13 years and promptly crushed their bowl game dreams. IU went the following season but still has yet to win a bowl since the 1991 season.
They have, however, had possession of the Bucket for four consecutive seasons and last year squeaked out a two point win to gain bowl eligibility against a Purdue team that had not yet hired Jeff Brohm.
It’s definitely time to get that Bucket back where it belongs. On to the Predicto…
Are we on the cusp of the Bucket game beginning to mean something on an annual basis? And do you want it to be against a good IU program or would you prefer they remain in the cellar and be a nice doormat for the Boilers?
Michael: I'd rather every team Purdue faces from now on be absolutely terrible and an easy win for Purdue. My most fond memories of the Bucket Game aren't of close wins, but of blow outs. I'd like that to start back up again.
Boilerdowd: I love seeing IU get their asses kicked. Just watching them lose is fun enough… but the days when Cameron or DiNardo teams lost by 700 and allowed a billion yards of offense were super-entertaining to me. If I had my druthers, things would stay like that. BUT, I don't think it can always be that way, sadly. If these teams hover around 5-6 wins for a few seasons, this rivalry will be fun only for Purdue or IU grads. If it becomes a battle of two solid bowl teams that's an actual rivalry, not one program dominating, it'll get some national pub. My vote is Brohm stays for 10-15 years, leads Purdue to a BT title game or four during that run...and Purdue beats the hell out of them every year.
My second preference would be both teams competing for a better bowl game and Purdue wins each year. The fun of that would be watching reversible jacket wearers quickly vacillate after losing the bucket...but actually having to choose between IU or UND (super tough call, bros).
For the record, I don't think the Allen era will be the halcyon days that some believe they'll be. I think after the Wilson offense wears off (give it a season or two), and Allen tries to beat teams with defense, but without the horses of Wisconsin, aOSU, UM or even their pals in black & gold, .500 seasons will become less and less possible.
Dave: If you mean from an outsider perspective, reply hazy - ask again later. Connelly's showing the #38 and #51 teams battling for the Bucket; in theory, yes, people might want to flip over to the 2018 or 2019 Bucket game, but that depends on a couple of key factors. On the Purdue side, obviously, it's Brohm's future. While he may never have the kind of success here that he had at Western Kentucky, early signs are encouraging ... but obviously there's no guarantee a different coach could continue that progress in his wake. On the Indiana side, no offense, but ... actually, that's the punch line. Their offense has been atrocious this year - 98th in S&P+ through last week, and unlike the Boilers (and previous seasons under Kevin Wilson), they don't have an offensive guru working on a successful formula. In fact, if the opposite of that exists, they hired him in 2017. To attract national attention, this rivalry needs two teams with good offenses (would you rather watch SEC or Big 12 games?); so far, it doesn't quite have one.
Aneesh: I absolutely am rooting for IU to be 5 wins good every year, because the Bucket Game being between two relevant, decent teams is the way rivalries grow. And, short term, yes I do think the Bucket will be like this over the next two to three years. Long term? IU's division draw kind of screws them from any sustained success.
J: As long as Purdue gets good again, I don’t really care what IU does. If they’re good and Purdue can dent their seasons of hope over and over, that’s delicious. But if they’re terrible and Purdue is rolling up 60+ on them, that’s almost as much fun.
Do you have any good Hoosier jokes?
Michael: What's an IU fan's favorite football cheer? Go Irish!
Boilerdowd: How do you get an IU grad to leave your house? Tip him for the delivery.
What's the difference between David Copperfield and IU's student section?
Copperfield has a cunning array of stunts...
(probably too much for your bridge group)
Dave: Since I grew up in Bloomington and graduated from Purdue, I've heard more than enough jokes from both sides, so I hope it's OK if I skip that question.
Aneesh: Generic rivalry week joke that gets me giggling every time: "Two IU fans walk into a bar, the Purdue fan ducked."
J: What do IU fans and Purdue fans have in common? Neither went to IU. (Definitely works better for basketball.)
Have you ever intentionally avoided purchasing something (car, lawn mower, snowblower, toolbox, etc.) because it came in a red color you really couldn’t bear to look at on a regular basis?
Michael: No, but on a related note a couple years ago I went to a friend's house to watch Purdue play Ohio State in basketball (my friend is an Ohio State fan). When I entered, my friend made fun of my because my shoes were red and grey. Purdue still won tho.
Boilerdowd: Yes- multiple coats and a car...just two years ago.
Dave: Red has never been a color I liked - in no small part because it's really close to scarlet - so even before you could buy things in crimson, I'd have answered yes. Living in Indianapolis, which as you know Bob is IU country, definitely. Is it a coincidence that most of the office furniture I have is black? I think not. (In fact, I have two chairs in my home office - one is as close to Old Gold as you can get from a non-Purdue retailer, and the other is black.)
Aneesh: The wife (also a Purdue grad) got 15 seconds into her pitch for red and gold as wedding colors before she realized she made a grave mistake. We never spoke of it again, and had a wonderful blue and gold wedding (with a train engine cameo during our ceremony, which is a real unplanned thing that happened).
J: I absolutely have not even considered looking at a car that otherwise checked all the boxes for what I needed. I am still bothered that the riding lawn mower I bought a couple years ago is IU red – but it’s a Toro and is the only color their stuff comes in. (I did, however, manage to get a yellow snowblower made by Cub Cadet. It ain’t gold but it also ain’t red.)
What’s your fondest Bucket memory? (No, you can’t say when Danny Hope was carried off on his players’ shoulders, that’s too obvious.)
Michael: Purdue would just cream IU when I was on campus and my favorite cheer was "Ball State was better." Those were such fun games to watch. Man, it's fun when IU is terrible.
Boilerdowd: Purdue beating IU to go the Rose...distant second is the Rod Woodson bucket where he did EVERYTHING to beat IU. I was in grade school and thought that Monday was the best day of my life, to that point.
Dave: 1989. It was my second senior year. The Akers era was bumbling to a close - 1990 would be his final season - and the Good Guys were sitting at 2-8, coming off a 24-0 loss to Iowa in what was Kirk Ferentz's 10th season. Just kidding! Hayden Fry had another 9 years left. (Fun fact: Fry's first year at Iowa was 1979, the year that IU pulled out a thrilling 38-37 victory over BYU in the Holiday Bowl. In that span, IU's had just one more bowl win than the number of head coaches at Iowa. In contrast, if we add 1978, Purdue's had as many bowl wins as the number of Alabama head coaches in that time.) Down south, Anthony Thompson was putting up some ridiculous numbers: coming off a junior season with 1686 yards and 26 TDs, he was on pace to surpass that yardage total and make a trip to New York City for a well-deserved Heisman candidacy, and the Hoosiers had their sights set on a fourth straight bowl appearance (it would have ended up being six, since they went to bowls in 1990 and 1991 as well). But the Boilers were having none of that, as they upset Indiana 15-14. Thompson finished second in Heisman voting, Indiana finished 5-6 and out of the bowl picture, and for one week in West Lafayette, sports weren't such a bad thing. (While the 1989-90 basketball season had just started - Purdue's opener was the day before the Bucket - the game still on our minds was this one.)
Aneesh: 2008, my first Bucket game in Ross Ade as a student, Joe Tiller's last game, all of my IU friends were at our place for the weekend, Purdue wins 62-10, Tiller makes a speech that has everyone in Ross Ade crying, c'mon man I can't pick anything else.
J: I took my now wife to her first Purdue football game in 2004, one of Joe Tiller’s many pastings of the Hoosiers. It was Kyle Orton’s last game and the last game of a frustrating season that had seen Orton as a Heisman candidate and Purdue as high as #5 in the nation. All that was left now was to secure the Bucket on senior day. Orton was magnificent and I have a photo of the scoreboard that day and with about 6 or 7 minutes left, Purdue had 762 yards of total offense (doing this from memory). I was also pretty mouthy in the stands back then and we were seated in the south end zone (since dismantled) seats, so there were some Hoosier fans scattered about. After Purdue scored again and again and the IU offense came back onto the field, I yelled “DON’T FUMBLE! OUR OFFENSE NEEDS A REST!” People laughed. Man, I’m a jerk.
Purdue wins this 120th meeting if…
Michael: Injuries don't play too big of a role, and Purdue gets on the scoreboard early. They are going to need to score TDs to beat Indiana so it'll be super important that they are able to finish drives. They did a good job of this against Iowa (which is pretty much the blueprint for success for Purdue this year) and they need to sustain that momentum. I'm a little worried about the secondary, as IU has some weapons that can hurt Purdue on the outside. But if Purdue can get enough of a push up front, that could help mask some weaknesses in the secondary. On offense, Purdue's RBs have to be able to chew up yardage, and the OL has to give Sindelar time to pass. He's hurting, and if he gets roughed up too much that could spell disaster for Purdue (especially with no good options behind him). The WRs, well Monhongou, had a great game against Iowa. They need to do that same against IU.
Boilerdowd: The defense plays like they did v. Iowa...and Sindelar throws for two TDs.
Dave: Purdue prevents the first five-I chain on the Bucket if they do what they did in Iowa City: make Indiana play from behind. Mike DeBord's offenses are designed to crush the life out of a game, not to put points on the board. If the Good Guys get out front and make Indiana try to be the Wilson-era Hoosiers, it will end well for everyone except the visitors.
Aneesh: ...the passing game can get a repeat performance out of Mahoungou and the receivers, against IU's very solid defense. IU has a very young offensive line, so I'm not concerned about Nick Holt's defense bringing pressure, but man the offensive matchup against Tom Allen's senior-laden defense is a little worrisome.
J: If they bring the fire, Nick Holt’s defense does what they do, and Sindelar is healthy enough to do what he did against Iowa.
Final score predicto?
Michael: Purdue 30, IU 24. How could I go against Purdue here?
Boilerdowd: Purdue 34, IU 28
Dave: Late in the game, the Good Guys lead, 26-14. Indiana drives for a TD, but since DeBord and Tom Allen are as good at game theory as everyone watching Purdue-Iowa last week, they send out the kicking team. As frustration from a season with inadequate QBs boils over, Simmie Cobbs runs out and waves the holder off, takes the snap, and on a perfect fake, throws a pass to himself for a two-point conversion. It isn't enough, as Purdue grinds out the rest of the clock and takes the Bucket: Purdue 26, Indiana 22.
Aneesh: Unfortunately, I think IU might be a tad better than Purdue, and has been playing their best football of the season over the past few weeks. The spread is Purdue -3, and I'll play the curmudgeon of the group: Indiana 28, Purdue 27.
J: I really am not sure what I predict here… I have had a bad feeling about this game for a while now. I think IU is a lot better than their 5-6 record would suggest as they’ve had to play a brutal schedule. I also think Purdue is riding high after that Iowa win and so that may level things a bit. So it comes down to whether Purdue is healthy enough to gut this one out. Sadly, since I am contractually obligated to make a prediction, I’ll go with Neesh and say it’s not a happy day in Boilerland. And as we so often say, I hope I’m wrong. Indiana 20, Purdue 13.
BONUS QUESTION: In honor of basketball season really heating up and conference games happening at the end of next (!) week, here’s one I think you’ll all enjoy. Which Big Ten school’s combination of head basketball coach and head football coach would you pick to win a 2-on-2 tournament?
Michael: Michigan, because no one is gonna want to body up Harbaugh.
Boilerdowd: If it was a tournament, Brohm/Painter would beat Collins/Fitzgerald. Brohm's athleticism would be tough for Fitz to handle at this point...he's gained a few lbs...and Brohm, in case you didn't know was drafted to play baseball...I figure that he's one of those guys who's good at everything. Let's not forget Matty is 6'6"...and can still bomb, I'm told. Collins can shoot, but the height difference would give Matty the ability to post him up.
Also, I think Fitz would try to muscle Brohm up, Brohm would get really angry and start a streetfight between the whistles.
Dave: The bonus answer is obviously Wisconsin, since they play football pretty much like they play basketball. I'm pretty sure Gard and Chryst would be the guys who are constantly fouling you since they know the ref isn't going to call everything. They would beat Northwestern in the final, 3-2, in a game called in sheer frustration after 2 hours of virtually no scoring. (Would you want to try to back down Pat Fitzgerald? Me either.)
Aneesh: Oh my god I would pay thousands to watch Lil Pitino and Fleck collapse as they fight for the spotlight. Purdue and Northwestern (Collins & Fitz) would both be tough, but if we're being real I think there's a darkhorse candidate that might be overlooked at first glance: Penn State. Pat Chambers is built like a literal bowling ball, and James Franklin seems like the personification of that dude at the CoRec that takes everything a little too seriously.
J: I don’t see how you can bet against Northwestern, but bdowd makes some really good points about Purdue’s chances in this hypothetical tournament.