Let’s Run The Wildcat(s) – The Foster Farms Bowl Predicto
We’re back for the first December football Predicto in five years. Thank you, Coach Brohm. Let’s hope this one goes better than that shellacking at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Purdue will be playing a different power five opponent in the Arizona Wildcats, helmed by former Michigan scapegoat Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats went 7-5 this season and ended the year with a loss to their rival Arizona State. They are closer to home and are favored. But Coach Brohm and team have had over a month to prepare for them. This sounds like fun.
Purdue will end the season the same way they began it – playing in prime time on Fox in an NFL stadium. Let’s wake the BS team up from their holiday coma and see what they think.
Let’s start easy. What are one or two favorite Purdue bowl game memories you have?
Michael: Yay fun memories! This might be the obvious ones, but I'm going to go with the 1998 Alamo Bowl against #4 Kansas State, and the 2001 Rose Bowl against Washington.
The Kansas State game was a great memory because Kansas State had a shot at the national title right up until the end, when they lost in 2OT against Texas A&M. To go from that to playing a barely-ranked Purdue team in the friggin' Alamo Bowl? That fan base was quite salty, and quite sure that the game wasn't going to be much of a contest. But Purdue came to play, and rode a hot 2nd quarter to a lead that even the talented KSU team couldn't overcome. While this was one of Brees' weaker outputs, he did throw a beauty of a TD pass to Isaac Jones to give the game its final score: 37-34 Purdue. The real heroes of that game, however, were Roosevelt Colvin and Chike Okeafor. You feel like an underdog a lot when you root for Purdue, and watching the underdog make good is as rewarding of a sports experience as there exists.
The Rose Bowl game didn't go quite as well, but it was great just having Purdue there.
Aneesh: You know what? Let's get weird here. That's right, I'm going with the 2007 Motor City Bowl win vs Central Michigan. Not just because it was my Freshman year, not just because Purdue had already played CMU earlier that year, not just because I had a mancrush on CMU QB Dan LeFevour. Because can any of you name the coach of that CMU team? That's right, the last bowl game Joe Tiller ever coached was against the one and only Butch Jones, and I had completely wiped that factoid from my memory. It was a ridiculously entertaining game devoid of any defense whatsoever, with a 34 point Purdue first half answered by a 28 point Central Michigan third quarter, capped by a LeFevour game-tying touchdown drive with 51 seconds left, and a Curtis Painter-led final drive setting up a Chris Summers game winning field goal as time expired. 99 combined points, 546 passing yards from Painter, and the setup for a Painter senior year that (in the moment) seemed promising. Unfortunately, raucous 2007 game was the last time Purdue broke through the 7-win ceiling.
Dave: Bowl memories? Haha! I know you're all expecting me to say the 1967 Rose Bowl, but a) I'm not quite that old (although I didn't miss it by much) and b) since I was born in Ann Arbor, the Rose Bowl memories I have from my childhood are actually poopy ones. (The Bo years were great for UM in conference play and not so good in bowl games.)
What I do remember are Tiller's first three bowls. The Alamo Bowls were nice because in both cases, the Good Guys got to play a team that felt like they'd been slighted, and Tiller was more than happy to take advantage of that lack of focus. So we watched at home, laughed at the nice wins (Purdue became the first team to win consecutive Alamo Bowls, and just the second Big Ten team to win consecutive bowls other than the Rose Bowl - Iowa won back-to-back Holiday Bowls in 1986-87), and enjoyed bowl season for a change.
The Outback Bowl was different because I was there. The weekend itself was great (aside from an oddity; there was a shooting at the hotel I stayed at on the day before I arrived, but since this was 2000 and not 2017, I only knew about it because it was in USA Today), spending New Year's Eve in a new city with a couple of Purdue buddies was great, I think (a lot of the details are fuzzy), and the first half of the bowl was great. Fortunately, since even back then they sold beer at bowl games, the second half seems to have escaped my memory, mostly, although I do remember breaking off at least two foam fingers in frustration. Whatever. It was nice to be supporting a program that was making bowl games a regular thing.
Boilerdowd: Going to the Rose Bowl is far and away my favorite memory. My pals J and Tim were there, my wife and other friends were there...it felt BIG TIME. Sadly, the Good Guys didn’t win. In spite of that, there was still a sense of optimism over the program...we all need to go back to Pasadena and get a ‘W’.
Second favorite was Jones catching the game winner in San Antonio from a QB named Drew.
J: So here’s something I’m almost embarrassed to admit. I’ve only been to one Purdue bowl game ever – and it was the Rose Bowl following the 2000 season. I had broken my leg rather grotesquely about ten days earlier and there was a near-blizzard in the NY-NJ area but I made it. So despite the loss, seeing a game in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day has to be damn near the pinnacle from a traditional college football experience.
From just watching and enjoying the game, the Brees-led win over the not-happy-to-be-there Kansas State team in the Alamo Bowl in ’97 was insanely fun.
How does this layoff affect Purdue football? Does it allow them to get healthy and put in a lot of trickery or does it lead to a loss of focus? Do the Jeff Brohm rumors have any effect?
Michael: I think the effects of the Brohm rumors have worn off by now. It's the coaches responsibility to get the team focused, and I trust this staff is able to do that. Ultimately, I think what this break will do will allow them to get healthy (Bentley and Sindelar specifically) as they were quite banged up by the end of the year. The only other thing is whether or not there will be academic casualties, and if they are, if they will be anyone significant. Stay tuned.
Aneesh: The early commitment window throws a bit of a wrench in every bowl-eligible head coach's schedule, and I think that chaos plays well into Purdue's favor. I think Brohm took only one call this offseason, listened to what Tennessee had to say, made some demands to see how real the conversation was, and walked away for one reason or another. Awful journalism in Knoxville spiraled that single call into an accepted offer, and sent several fanbases into a day-long frenzy. But, in reality, Brohm had one call with Tennessee as he was sealing up his 2018 recruiting class, and that was that.
As for the layoff? Giving the Brohm brothers a month to plan for Arizona's lackluster defense is a godsend, and Nick Holt needs to devise a plan to bring pressure to a semi-hobbled QB Khalil Tate early and often. I think this month off was great for Purdue, gave some of the players time to recover after giving everything they had for those final two wins, and will play in Purdue's favor vs Arizona.
Dave: There won't be a loss of focus, not for a team that barely has any bowl experience at all. (Some of the transfers do.) It definitely allows them to put in trickery, especially for an end-of-season game that means very little to the teams involved - bowls are known for crazy offensive plays, and when you have two offensive-minded head coaches involved, there will be some really neat stuff that no one's going to focus on because it may never come up in a regular-season game. (Or maybe it will ...) I doubt the rumors have any more of an impact than they would in a non-bowl season. Kids these days know the score much better than many would think, so even during crazy season, most of them knew there'd be a small chance someone else would coach during bowl season. Now that the carousel has stopped and it's clear Brohm isn't going anywhere yet, if anything, the impact will be seen in the press conferences, where we won't have to hear any questions about next stops, etc.
Boilerdowd: If I was an opposing coach with a struggling defense, I would want no part of a Brohm-coached team with WEEKS of prep time. I don’t think anything else needs to be said on this topic. Purdue will be ready...and there will be a bag of tricks.
J: I am genuinely excited to see what Purdue pulls out of the bag of tricks for this one. They’ve had a ton of time to prepare and it’s a bowl game, which many coaches treat as a fun exhibition (which it is) anyway.
Purdue wins if….
Michael: Limit turnovers and score touchdowns. It's a simple game, man. Don't give Arizona any free possessions and go for blood in the red zone. This team went through a period of time late in the season where they just couldn't score a TD, and it cost them dearly. Also keep in mind that Brohm's tricks have now been on film for quite some time, so not only will his counterparts at Arizona know what he likes to call, but they'll know that he's one for calling trick plays and the like. So if they do call a trick play, and it's snuffed out, will they be able to recover, or will it be disastrous? Everyone knows I'm a huge Sindelar fan, but I don't think he's great at improvising. If things go south, Purdue desperately needs him to contain and live to fight another day.
Aneesh: Purdue's defense bring the Lamar Jackson plan to Khalil Tate, and gets him off-balance early. The national story will be about the two offenses, and we know the realities of Purdue's limitations on the offensive end. But the hype on Arizona's side it'll be warranted. The sophomore Tate is a beast, a Heisman-contender in the making, and already is next year's frontrunner for the Lamar Jackson Award for Aneesh's Favorite Non-Purdue College Football Player, but Tate tweaked his shoulder in Arizona's Nov 25th matchup against Arizona State, and the end of his season was a little uneven. He might grow into a world-beater, but he's not there yet. Arizona's defense is about as impressive as Purdue's offense, and the underdog Boilermakers' defense could propel them to a win.
Dave: Purdue wins if they execute on offense. Arizona's defense is terribad: they gave up 40+ points to three bad Pac-12 opponents, including 42 in what turned out to be the last regular-season game Arizona State would ever win under Ray Anderson. (Well, I guess Herm Edwards can maybe outcoach a bad I-AA team.) The Boilers' defense will stop RichRod's read option enough to open the door for a win; if the offense doesn't stop themselves, the Good Guys will walk right through it.
Boilerdowd: The defense plays inspired (like the IU and Iowa games) and Sindelar just plays solid football. It could be a great springboard for the Spring for Elijah, Markell, Jackson and co.
J: If Nick Holt’s defense made the trip. I feel like them doing what they’ve done all season should do the trick for Purdue. These guys looked gassed at times but this is the final game of the season and the final game of some of their careers, so I think they’re ready to go out with a winning season in Coach Brohm’s first year.
Final score predicto?
Michael: I'm feeling optimistic. So, let's go with a Purdue win. 37-34 has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Aneesh: Woo boy I'm nervous about this one, as Purdue is a 3.5 point underdog traveling to the west coast against a PAC-12 team. But here goes nothing: Purdue 33, Arizona 24
Dave: I almost wish Purdue's defense were a little worse, so that we could have one of those crazy 68-66 games, but that's not going to happen in the San Francisco Bowl. Jeff Brohm will become the fifth coach in school history to collect a win in a bowl game. Purdue 46, Arizona 25
Boilerdowd: Purdue 37 ASU 27 [We’ll assume Bdowd meant Arizona here. –Ed.]
J: Boilermakers 33, ‘Cats 21