Time to Keep Purdue’s Property – The Bucket Predicto
As you shake off the coma feeling of overeating yesterday (“You ever eat so much you almost throw up? Isn’t that great?” – Jim Gaffigan), it’s time to gear up for rivalry Saturday. I said it on our podcast earlier this week but I love college rivalries because they’re usually based on real, genuine dislike. When two arrogant, posturing programs get together, you wind up with too many peacocks in the field and some flapping occurs. Sometimes it gets dangerous and embarrassing for the programs. One thing Purdue and IU have really never done that I am aware of is truly throw down, in football or basketball. It’s almost as of both programs respect the history and focus on simply letting their winning do the talking.
Speaking of respect, IU Football not only arranged for Tyler Trent to have tickets to the game, but they’ve also officially listed him as an honorary captain for the game. This is a great gesture on Indiana’s part and we all know what happens when Tyler is in the house.
So what does the BS crew think of Purdue football’s last regular season game? The Boilermakers have lost two straight after getting to a point where we all were thinking eight wins were possible. Interestingly, this slide coincided with Louisville setting their sights on Jeff Brohm. Now they go on the road against a hungry and probably somewhat irritated IU program that is in the same position – 5-6 and needing a win for both the Bucket and a bowl.
Let’s get weird.
While I have no doubt at all that Purdue is better than Indiana and that Purdue’s coaching staff is oceans better than the one across the field, I felt the same way about Minnesota. In addition, Purdue had a two touchdown lead over Wisconsin with seven minutes to go and wasn’t able to close it out. The players and coaches can talk all they want about the Brohm talk not being on their mind and maybe it isn’t – but something is affecting this team. They’re one last second field goal against Iowa away from having lost four in a row. Eek. I don’t have a good feeling about this one.
Both teams are 5-6, but they're not similar teams. Indiana has a 7-point win at Rutger and a 2-point win at home against Maryland; they played well against Penn State and Michigan, but got whacked by Ohio State and Iowa. The Good Guys beat the three ranked teams they played, and while they've had a couple of clunkers in the last month, offense has generally not been the problem for the Boilers - defense has been the side of the ball that's needed more improvement. In general, this would be a matchup that favors Purdue. Indiana's pass defense is bad. Purdue's offense is good at generating explosive plays, and Indiana is bad on both sides at that - doesn't have many explosive plays, gives them up too readily.
There's just one thing, and I don't mean the rivalry. Purdue's offense has struggled in bad weather this year, with the possible exception of overtime against Wisconsin, and even then they ran out of TDs before Wisconsin did. The forecast for Saturday's game is currently calling for rain starting late Friday night and continuing through game time; there's a chance it'll spend more time around Lake Monroe than Memorial Stadium, but the field will likely be wet anyway. It's possible that Brohm has been saving some interesting plays for this game - not that he's ever short on them (a sideways snap? the only thing missing was "you go to the small tree and stop, you run toward the fence but remember don't hit it or the dog will bark"). It's also possible that the Eastern Michigan and Michigan State and Minnesota games were just coincidences.
But it seems more likely that the difference between explosive and flat is currently small - the Brohm Squad isn't yet at 100% in inclement weather. Bad conditions favor the underdog, which is Indiana for both Vegas and analytics. I think the Boilers will still pull this out, but there will be enough mistakes to keep the game close throughout, and it may well come down to Spencer Evans again. The Good Guys won't hit my 7-5 mark, but they'll still get to a bowl game.
321 rushing yards seems like a lot. It's a lot, right? It seems like a lot.
Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin's deep offensive line minced a tired Purdue late last week, as the Boilermakers gave up a 14 point lead with 10 minutes to go and lost in triple overtime. (The point total over/under was 56, by the way. Each team almost hit that over on their own.) It was a morale-draining loss, particularly as Purdue looked to be dictating every facet of the game for three quarters.
Which means...that's right, we're staring at the ultimate worst-case-scenario. Purdue is on the brink of three straight losses to end the season, a razor's edge away from missing a bowl game that seemed like a shoo-in after the Ohio State Tyler Night win. Throw in the early season losses, the missed Big Ten West opportunity, and the Louisville job opening and we could be shaping up for the most disastrous 5-7 season possible.
But, for some reason, I've started to come around to thinking that Purdue won't finish this season with a whimper, and Boilermaker football will be led by the same leader in 2019. Maybe it's Brohm's jovial attitude during press conferences this week, maybe it's Louisville AD Vince Tyra abandoning any and all professionalism and mentioning Brohm's name during the press conference announcing Petrino's firing, maybe it's my unwavering thought that Brohm has higher ambitions than being the Cardinals' Head Coach for the next 30 years, maybe it's the confidence George Karlaftis and the 2019 recruits have that Brohm isn't going anywhere.
For one reason or another, I think Purdue and IU throw their best at each other, the Boilermakers narrowly end up with their first Bucket win in Bloomington since 2011, and Purdue gets good news a week after Thanksgiving.
This season was a bit of a screamer. It's hard to believe it's almost over.
And fittingly, it ends against IU, in another game to decide whether Purdue goes to a bowl or not. Most of time I roll my eyes at the "IU Sucks" chants, as they seem meaningless when yelled at the Missouri's of the world. But this Saturday, it means something. Purdue has historically kicked the crap out of IU in football. Purdue, no belle of the ball themselves in the sport, has been fortunate enough to be born rivals with one of the historically worst P5 football programs in college football history. Does that make this any less fun? Any less meaningful? Not one bit.
Purdue's future is once again up the air. We all knew Brohm's tenure at Purdue would be tested by the eventual Louisville opening, but we all hoped that it wouldn't come this soon. But here it is, and next week will be a big one, even if nothing new is learned.
But to the game, I can't pick against Purdue when they're playing Indiana, distractions in all. I gotta think that they hold it together one more time, and give the Brohm tenure at least one more game.
Another year, another pair of five-win teams meeting in the Bucket game.
It feels like IU has a bit more momentum, as Purdue has lost two straight and was gut punched last week.
If weather is good, Purdue will win...it looks like 54 & rain.