Predicto with The Chief
With Purdue's bowl hopes riding on Saturday's game, Coach Haze welcomes the Fighting Illini to the friendly confines of a half-full Ross-Ade stadium. Will the ravenous Homecoming crowd give the Boilers the edge? Let's see what the BS staff thinks.
1,071 days between Big Ten home victories.
That’s a lot of days. But finally the last home victory that mattered wasn’t Danny Hope’s finale against IU. That’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but how many leaps did the program take in the mean time?
Ok, ok…only positivity, because we don’t get this winning opportunity too often.
HAZELL’S JUGGERNAUT EXPRESS. PURDUE, THE CREATOR. DARRELL’S DESTROYERS. YUNG BOILERWINNERS.
Greg Hudson’s defense took advantage of Nebraska’s backup quarterback Ryker Fyfe (real name, no gimmicks), and Anthony Brown came away with a hat trick’s-worth of interceptions. John Shoop’s offense (well…maybe we’ll call it David Blough’s offense) looked fantastic last weekend, but it was the defense and special teams that set them up for touchdown drives of 22, 19, 6, and 45 yards.
I could point out tons of things that went wrong in that game, like the defense forgetting how to tackle in the fourth quarter, or how this exact semi-aggressive offensive gameplan could have been called against Wisconsin, or that it took over a thousand dang days to reward the sparse home crowd with a victory.
But hell, it was a victory. This week, we get Illinois just over a month after they fired their beyond-awful coach. They’re coming off of three pretty resounding losses, particularly after getting shut out at Penn State last week. But…Illinois is currently 5 point favorites coming in to Lafayette. The line opened at Illinois -1.5, which means enough people have been hammering bets down on the Illini to generate that absolutely massive swing.
I just…I don’t know. That seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Then again, Darrell Hazell hasn’t come close to sniffing back-to-back victories (let alone within Big Ten play). These are both inconsistent teams with unproven coaches, who have both had really bad losses but somehow beaten Nebraska (Mike Riley, you will be missed…goodnight, sweet prince).
My thought is to remain positive, because life is short. If I had to bet, I’d say the defense can replicate the enjoyable performance before the offense, so I’m betting on a low-scoring game. This was the one game Purdue fans were expecting to win coming in to the season, so we can’t back down now.
Zee Dave says:
It also shows that that number isn't 56 because the Boilers missed an extra point, and that they gave up 45 points, including two TDs in the final 3:30 and 29 points in the final quarter. While that win may begin a path to a 3- or 4-win season that looks a lot better now than it would have at the start of the season, it would still be the high point of 2015. (Yes, it would be great to get the Bucket back, but beating Indiana is hardly a hook to hang your hat on, and we may well see an IU team that's 0-7 in conference play.)
If there was a high point last season, it would be the decisive 38-27 win over Illinois, the one that brought the Purdue Cannon back to Purdue. That game, however, was against a team "coached" by Tim Beckman. Now, the Illini have an actual coach with actual experience. Instead of this being an easy win, it now looks more like a toss-up, although it might still be something to beat a 4-4 team whose best win is against ... oh. Nebraska. Well, never mind that. In the last month, Bill Cubit's team has lost reasonable games to Iowa and Wisconsin and pooped the bed against Penn State, so they're rapidly piling up the kind of moral victories that Hazell will be putting on his resume once he's done here.
It's hard to expect more from an interim coach, though. Beckman didn't exactly leave the cupboard stocked (not that he knew what was in it or how to open it), and Illinois' schedule points to a 4- or 5-win season, depending on which Purdue and Minnesota teams show up when they play. (Sound familiar?) Illinois has a crappy offense and a defense that might or might not be good ... well, they got whacked by good or good-ish teams, so against relevant opposition, they're good enough. Special teams is not a weakness, so count on Purdue giving away 4-6 points worth of field position and/or actual scoring in that area.
If there is a bright spot from Saturday's game that might carry over, it's that the Good Guys finally hit on a couple of much-needed big plays. Blough's line looks pretty good - 28-43-0/274/4 is positively unShoopian - until you realize that 83 of that came on the long TD to Yancey. Similarly, Blough's 56-yarder (insert Nelsonian HA HA here) was almost a third of Purdue's 183 rushing yards. Nebraska did themselves in through turnovers (-5, thanks guys!), not from turning Purdue's offense into an actual NCAA offense.
Still, Purdue did amass 457 yards total offense, and they had no turnovers, and they scored 55 points, and they didn't get killed in the second half. This is the best possible time for that kind of game to happen, because if there's a team that can be beaten by average play and emotion, it's Illinois. As much as I'd like to see it happen, I don't think it will.
J Peso says:
I swore I wouldn't allow myself to get sucked back in without good reason. And while there was plenty to be concerned about with the performance last Saturday versus Nebraska, in the end it was a win and a win with many points rolled up. David Blough has now done it and completed a good game start to finish and beaten a real, honest to goodness D1 team. Now, sure, Austin Appleby did the same thing last year to Illinois and wound up never winning again (save for a FCS foe). But if this staff and these players have learned ANYthing...if they've advanced at all...if there is any real progress being made in West Lafayette...then this home game on Homecoming against a reeling Illini program absolutely must be a win.
I'm not anywhere near as confident in this as I think we should be...but I'll go with the men in black.
I think Purdue fans are a bit dumbfounded when examining this team. Yeah Nebraska was playing their backup QB, but this wasnt Indiana State.
Illinois is hurting, much in the same way that Minnesota was earlier this season (*groans). Hazell might be safe, but there are plenty of assistants who are coaching for their jobs here.
Lose this game and the Nebraska game means nothing. As much as I want to go with Purdue here, one week doesn't erase 2.5 years of horrid play.
With the lowest winning percentage of any Purdue coach who has had the job longer than 2 seasons, Darrell Hazell received news that he was Purdue's coach for the foreseeable future this week via press releases and interviews out of God's country. There's still no word if Mr. Burke feels as confidently about Hazell's staff, but no one that I know does.
In the wake of Purdue beating a historical blue blood program, with a walk-on QB at the helm, the Good Guys notched their first victory at home versus a B1G opponent. Stability...winning...a bowl game still a possibility...Good times.
But wait, the mighty Illini are in town to ruin our post-victory buzz.
Illinois has a solid defense and a good QB...but the details tend to bite the Illini. Surprising that in the wake of losing such an intelligent head coach in Beckman that this would be their fate. Cubit did a good job stabilizing things initially...but after the warm fuzzies wore off, Illinois has struggled a bit- they enter this game on a three game losing streak.
This game feels like an undercard for something that the rest of the world is looking forward to watching. There will be a crowd at the game because it's homecoming...but it won't be a big one, sadly, and the world outside of Champaign and West LaFiesta doesn't care about the result. But we do.
I don't feel particularly good or bad about this one...but my logical side is overriding any possible good feelings from last week's "W".
I believe Illinois will pass their way to victory while taking away Blough's ability to run...and Shoop's semi-aggressive play calling might yield super-quick possessions that end up tiring out Purdue's defense.
Prove me wrong, boys.