Make no mistake, the Fighting Illini football team is just not good. Purdue should win going away. I'm worried about an inconsistent Purdue team resting on its laurels though and sleepwalking through this game. I really hope that they worked on holding on to the ball. If you had told me that Purdue would win last week while giving it up 3 times I would've told you that you were crazy. Any team, when given the ball 3+ more times than their opponent can win the game. Illinois comes in to the game with a turnover margin identical to Purdue. It's going to be fairly windy with some rain potentially thrown in there. Could we be in for a sloppy affair on Saturday?
Again, this week this game comes down to which Purdue team shows up. Is it the team with the fiery defense or the team with the poor tackling? Is it the team with the dangerous wide receivers or the team that is fumble prone? The answer to the above questions could likely be yes to everything.
I don't think there's any in between with this team. Either they're going to show up ready to play and focused, like they did against Toledo, Oregon and OSU....or they're going to show up sloppy, lackadaisical and unprepared-looking, like they did against a number of teams, including Northern Illinois. Given that they've renewed the optimism of many of us with last week's complete outplaying of the seventh-ranked team in the nation, I'm going to choose to go with expecting them to be ready to roll this weekend. They're now 2-5, the seniors can feel the end coming, and there are winnable games remaining on the schedule. This is one of them.
I've been worried about Illinois all season, because I feel they're too talented not to put together a good game at some point... and they've been horrible. Absolutely putrid. But this is the kind of perfect trap game, right? Coming off a huge win, playing a game that should be a walkover, etc.? Danny Hope was quoted this week, when asked about that very issue (players becoming overconfident), that they should just look at their record and any overconfidence should go away quickly. Let's hope he's drilled that into them. The same effort as last week should allow the Boilermakers to roll the Illini. I'm going choose a happy outcome.
The Illini are in 10th and 11th in the conference in a ton of categories...and at the same time, Purdue's front four is looking tough as nails. Whether it's McGee or Williams, the Illini offense has struggled mightily to move the ball. Illinois has scored just 56 points this season versus D-IA opponents, is 0-5 versus these opponents and has lost the games by an average of just under 20 points.
Ron Zook's player's coach style has backfired greatly. The bluechip recruits have turned into ineffective crybabies. So, with all their talent, they're either due for a game when it all comes together or, they're too far-gone to have success in '09.
I think we'll see Ralph Bolden have a lot of success as he breaks the 100 yard mark for the first time since the second game...I even think McBurse will carry the ball a couple times at RB. Elliott should only need to manage the game and throw the ball underneath to Smith and Valentin.
Sideline havoc loses...Discipline wins.
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 heroes, 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.