I have changed the name from the game preview to game notes. I realized that I rarely preview anything, but instead ramble on about noteworthy aspects of the game. This is a special week because it is homecoming at Purdue. Even Minnesota has a stake in homecoming this week. Tim Brewster was a graduate assistant at Purdue as well as coaching Lafayette Central Catholic. This may be his last trip to Purdue as the Minnesota head coach so it is probably bittersweet. Jim (Chris) Everett will be in town as well as part of the 25th anniversary of his 1985 Boiler team. Bob Griese and his son Brian will be in the booth to call the game for ESPN as well. There have already been Joe Tiller sightings in Lafayette. He will be in attendance along with other members of the 2000 team that went to the Rose Bowl. At halftime they are going to recognize the 2000 Rose Bowl team down on the field. In honor of that team the Boilers will be wearing throwback uniforms that resemble the ones the Boilers had on in Pasadena. The helmets will have the rose through the P just like on New Years day in 2001. I was not able to attend that game so this will be a cool experience for me. I am sure that during the week this site will be flooded with pictures from the day.
How cool will it be to walk into Ross-Ade today and see the 2000 Rose Bowl uniforms on #15 who is making his first start at home? Rob Henry has led the Boilers in rushing for three straight games now. His 67 yard run at Minnesota was the longest for a Boiler quarterback since 1965. It is partially because of Henry that the Boilers have rushed for over 200 yards for four straight weeks. That is the most consecutive games since the Mike Alstott era. That is pretty impressive considering all of the injuries that the Boilers have endured in the backfield in that span. The flip side to that is the fact that the Boiler passing game is ranked 105th out of 120 teams in the FBS. Last week the Minnesota defense did not force a turnover or sack the quarterback. This could be the week that Rob Henry and the Boiler offense gets a little confidence. Part of the reason the Boilers have been playing better this season is the fact that they have kept turnovers to a minimum. They have only lost two fumbles all season which leaves them in a tie for third in the nation. The extra emphasis that the coaches put on ball security is paying off. They have only lost two fumbles all season, and it is no coincidence that both of them were against Toledo which was their only loss. One of those of course was the Marve fumble when he tore up his knee. Of course now that I talk up ball security they will cough it up a few times today. The Boilers got through the game against Northwestern with no injuries of note. When was the last time we could say that? The continuity of having the same guys taking snaps at the same positions for three weeks straight has to show dividends. The receivers are back at their positions, and the running backs appear to be healthy. I really think the offense will give us something to cheer about this week. This will be the first week they score the points that I predict they will.
The Boiler defense is led by Ryan Kerrigan. He has just been a beast this season. He has 13 tackles for a loss which leads the nation coming into the game. That is part of the forty tackles for loss that the defense has as a whole. That is good enough for 2nd in the Big Ten. The Boiler defense leads the Big Ten with 17 sacks as a team. The front line is really starting to come together. Freshman like Bruce Gaston as well as veterans like Kawann Short are enjoying the extra attention that Kerrigan draws. Short in particular has had a good run as of late. He was named co-Big Ten special teams player of the week for his performance against Northwestern. He got the award because of his field goal block. That was his second kick block on the season. He also has five pass breakups from the tackle position. Minnesota protects its quarterback well. The battle on the line will be the key to the game. If Purdue can get in the backfield they will walk away with this one.
The Boiler kicking game had a good week last week. Carson Wiggs used some extra practice to help him have a perfect day kicking the football. True freshman punter Cody Webster made some headlines with his 79 yard punt. Our kicking game has not been an issue. Kick coverage and returns have been an issue. Last week Josh Johnson took over the punt return duties. During the game he returned a punt two yards, and still beat the team average for the season. A big return would do a lot to help the Boilers go 2-0 in the Big Ten.
Let’s talk a little bit about Minnesota. They are led on offense by a fifth year senior quarterback Adam Weber. Weber holds numerous Minnesota records, but has really never led his team to a good season. He has endured a 1-11 season once already, and may be on track for another one. He has two big targets to throw to on offense in MarQueis Gray and Da’Jon McKnight. McKnight made two great grabs in the end zone last week against Wisconsin. As I said earlier they did not get to the quarterback last week. That may be because Wisconsin had such a good game on the ground. They only have one win this season, and that was a seven point victory at Middle Tennessee State. Purdue needs to get up early on these guys. They will come out firing after feeling disrespected last week. A quick lead could remind these guys that they are not good. Feelings of doubt could creep in, and the game could get ugly. Tim Brewster is fighting for his job, and needs a win badly. They are tied with Washington State for the worst record of any BCS school. I think that the stops will be out to start this game.
With a win today the Boilers will go to 2-0 in the Big Ten. If Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa all lose the Boilers will be alone atop the Big Ten on a day that they wore retro Rose Bowl jerseys. More importantly it would be their fourth win leaving them two shy of a bowl berth.
I have seen Minnesota play five previous times. They have lost four of those five games. Here is a list of the games that I have seen. If I have a write up about the game on the site I have added a link to that write up on the date.
- 10/1/94 Indiana 25 – Minnesota 14
- 10/3/98 Purdue 56 – Minnesota 21
- 9/23/00 Purdue 38 – Minnesota 24
- 9/23/06 Purdue 27 – Minnesota 21
- 10/25/08 Minnesota 17 – Purdue 6
I find it interesting that I have seen this game played twice on the same date in the short time that I have been attending Purdue games.
Predictions: Here is the interesting part of the blog. This is where I attempt to pick games. Last week I was 7-3 with my picks. Purdue once again came back and bit me. I had an upset special pick of #18 Wisconsin over #1 Ohio State, but all week long I saw this being picked as everyone’s upset pick. I think that I will still go with my gut on this one. I think Camp Randall will be rocking for this primetime game. I saved Purdue for last this week that way when I tabulate what I have done I can feel good until then. Here are the picks:
- #13 Michigan State 35 – Illinois 24
- #15 Iowa 31 – Michigan 27
- #5 Nebraska 34 – Texas 28
- Indiana 35 – Arkansas State 21
- #7 Auburn 31 – #12 Arkansas 30
- Ball State 34 – Eastern Michigan 17
- Notre Dame 42 – Western Michigan 16
- #1 Grand Valley State 42 – Lake Erie 10
- #18 Wisconsin 28 – #1 Ohio State 27
- Purdue 38 – Minnesota 27