Obviously, it's very early for a look at the upcoming football season. And I'm sure I'll get at least one or two lectures from boneheads who will say that not being rah-rah enough means I'm not a real fan or some such nonsense like that. But I don't -- as of now in July -- have a good feeling about the 2012 football season. So let's just dive into it.
The schedule looks like this:
|Sat, Sept 1 EKU|
|Sat, Sept 8 @ND|
|Sat, Sept 15 Eastern Mich|
|Sat, Sept 29 Marshall|
|Sat, Oct 6 Mich|
|Sat, Oct 13 Wisc|
|Sat, Oct 20 @OSU|
|Sat, Oct 27 @Minn|
|Sat, Nov 3 PSU|
|Sat, Nov 10 @Iowa|
|Sat, Nov 17 @Illinois|
|Sat, Nov 24 IU|
A lot of you replied that you were optimistic for Purdue this year and seem to be expecting good things and an improvement on last year's step forward. What would another step forward be? 8+ wins? Show me where you find 8 wins on that schedule, because I simply don't see it.
I know there are games there that they should win, but one thing the Coach Hope years have taught us is that we will be subjected to maddening inconsistency. Yes, they'll "steal" a game when you'll have all but given up on them... but you'll have all but given up on them because they'll have lost a home game to a MAC team or a road game at a place like Rice. So let's play the ever-popular, win-win-loss-loss-win-loss-loss game.
Let's leave aside the "should win" games. Let's start with games I actually think you can chalk up as victories. Those would be EKU, Eastern Michigan, IU. That's it, that's the list. I don't think anything else on here is a gimme, and let's be honest -- has Purdue played a game that felt like a gimme at all recently? IU plays Purdue tough these days -- even against last year's hapless IU squad, Purdue didn't destroy them. And we all know how lethargic and sleepy the boys seem to look in early-season pushover games.
And let's also look at what I think are highly probable losses: @ND, Wisc, @OSU, @Iowa. Purdue doesn't win in South Bend -- once in the long lifetimes of your elder BS statesmen. They have not played Wisconsin well in recent years (the worst collective beatings that Hope has suffered -- the games mostly aren't even competitive), they always struggle out at Iowa (and couldn't beat them at home last year with a bowl on the line), and they aren't beating an Urban Meyer team on the road (or any OSU team on the road, frankly).
That leaves hypothetical "toss-ups" of Marshall, Michigan, @Minn, PSU, @Illinois. Of that group, I think they are highly likely to lose to Michigan (only on this list because it's at home) and Penn State (another team Purdue simply does not beat, even when you think the cards are in your favor).
I also have a serious fear that Marshall is this year's early-season hiccup. Regardless of whether you agree or not, it's going to happen. It does every year. For an improvement this season in terms of program development, fan sanity, job security for Coach Hope, etc., I think they really must start at least 3-1. Sure, they can of course overcome a 2-2 start in the non-con, but even if they do, people will remember that they continue to trip up early and put themselves in a position where even a strong finish dooms them to a middling bowl game.
So if Marshall, UM and PSU are losses, that leave @Minnesota and @Illinois on the docket. Even if the Boilers take both of those road games -- which is far from a sure thing right now because you have to assume Minny will be improved and we know Illinois has the talent from Zooker's recruiting prowess -- I'm still landing at only five wins for the 2012 Boilermakers.
You can accuse me of being a pessimist, but I can only judge/predict based on what I know. And what I know is that despite how much I like the man in charge of the football program, his teams are wildly inconsistent and unpredictable.
As of now, I'm calling 5-7 as their final record.
Boilerdowd's look at the upcoming season will be posted shortly...and it will please those wearing gold-colored glasses...a bit more.