Let's see if we can do better this week for you vultures!
It's predicto time.....RIGHT NOW.
Purdue travels to Texas, the state with the fourth most Purdue Alumni, to play Rice. Rice is a team that recently matches our struggles - with only 3 winning seasons in this millennium. This being said, they didn't pay us $250,000 to stomp their faces into their own dirt. Rice will come out swinging, fortunately, I don't see them getting much done on the ground this week. The secondary has grown up a little bit this year as well, but some early bombs may end up leaving us going into the locker room behind. TerBush has had a taste of victory, chances are good in my mind that the entire offense wants to prove something on the road. Bolden blew up against Oregon in '09 and I'd like to think that will happen this Saturday. He'll record the first score with TerBush spreading the field keeping Rice on their toes. This will likely be late in the second; we still need that first quarter gel time. Halftime Score 10 - 17 Rice
The second half will be more consistent and TerBush will find a rhythm to keep the ball moving and sneak into the endzone once or twice (thrown, both). Rice won't have the fight after the third; they've just lost too many games in the last two years. Robinson will get late snaps; Wiggs may get a late 'Just for fun' field goal to set the record, but Purdue will walk away from Houston the victors, 28 to 17.
Last weekend's prediction was a crappy feeling for a loyalist like me. Feeling bad about the outlook and then seeing it play out exactly as I expected was lousy, but the best possible result happened -- I was wrong, in the end. Unfortunately for those who believe in reverse-mojo, I am not picking the Boilers to lose again this week.
I've said all along that I thought they'd have trouble in one of these early games and I felt it would be MTSU -- and they did have trouble. But unlike a lot of times in recent years, they were able to overcome the troubles and produce a victory. I think the Danny Hope teams tend to set their sights on an early-season matchup and sort of build towards that goal. His first year, I think it was the trip to Oregon. The second year it was the opening game versus ND. And it both instances, when those wound up being crushing defeats, the team demonstrated how their souls and will had been damaged. I think this Rice game is potentially that game for 2011. I think Hope has been talking about this road trip with the understanding of how big road wins can be for a team, and knowing what a significant contingent of Boilers will be there to cheer on his guys. In fact, it's very possible that the Boiler faithful will own a road stadium -- how often can you say that?
Purdue could very easily lose this game. Rice is not the pushover they once were, though they are a beatable team. If the Boilers do not show progress from last week and exhibit some of the same jitters, it could be troublesome. However, I'm going to be optimistic this week and say that I think that last drive may have done wonders for Caleb TerBush's confidence and that we'll see that on display in Houston tomorrow.
Purdue should be able to control the ground game, severelly limit Rice's ability to throw the ball, and control the trenches. Those are some really basic and time-tested keys to victory, and I think they will carry the day tomorrow.
It's going to be another hot one at Rice. Maybe Purdue can wear black pants in addition to last week's black jerseys. That way the triple digit temps will be sure to impact them as much as possible. As for the jerseys, though, as long as they don't go Darth Vader or Princess Leia (white jerseys and white pants), I'll be happy. (May want to avert your eyes, then. Rumor percolating that the white on white may be happening. -- J)
The game will come down to turnovers (mmmmm, turnovers -- J). Whichever team holds on to the ball better will win. Rice hung in with Texas last week until the 4th quarter, though it was a Texas team that went 5-7 last year. Texas was able to rush for 229 yards last week. Bolden and Shavers should help the Boilermakers running game have similar success. TerBush just needs to manage the game and let the running game do its thing. The lack of defensive pressure on the QB is a concern, among other things, but I don't think Rice's QB Taylor McHargue is going to light the world on fire so that should help. I'm hoping that it was a combination of the heat last week and the fact that The MTSU is a repeat bowler. That said, I don't have a lot of confidence this week. There's definite positves, but it's been a while since Purdue has been able to use those positives without also shooting themselves in the foot.
THE Rice University 24
If you look at Rice's stat sheet from their game v. Texas last week, it almost looks incomplete- 224 total yards, 130 yards rushing, 94 yards passing, only 5 penalties and 9 points (on three field goals) in the entire game. Actually, those 9 points came entirely in the first half...as Rice hung tough with Texas for a half 13-9.
TerBush had nearly the same amount of yards passing in the fourth quarter as the Owls did in their first contest...but Purdue was playing MTSU and Rice was playing Texas. Sure, Texas is coming off of an awful season, but they still have horses in the stable...and stats only tell so much, especially in the first game.
It takes time for offense to get in sync...and Purdue's looked completely out of sync for most of last Saturday's game. Rice never got into a rhythm, but they were missing the most-important part of their offense, former UM RB, McGuffie, who led the Owls in both rushing and receiving in '10, for most of the game. His knee injury doesn't sound like it'll allow him to play at full strength, if at all this week against Purdue...but look for him to be seen in a Wildcat formation. Rice sacked Texas' QB twice last week, and on the other side of the ball didn't allow Texas to get to their quarterback, McHarque. Like Purdue, Rice killed itself with a few key penalties when in scoring position last week.
Rice's team, coaches and fans are confident that Purdue and Rice are even from a talent standpoint, so it's really going to come down to execution.
Will Purdue's offense look like it did in the fourth quarter, or most of the rest of the game? Will Purdue's defense be willing to make adjustments or stay with something that wasn't very effective (like we saw last week)?
Marve has been taking more snaps in practice, so he might be #2 on the depth chart by kickoff...but I think TerBush will see most of the snaps. To win, Purdue's gotta play better up front on both sides of the ball- the OL needs to get rid of false start penalties and know its assignments and the DL has to generate a pass rush and a push.
This one bothered me coming into the season, and last week didn't change my mind. With two offenses that don't have much of an identity, it could be a rock fight.
Go prove me wrong, Boilers.
To Your Call Once More We Rally;
Alma Mater Hear Our Praise.
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 Heros,
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!