Game Notes: Purdue @ Illinois


Chief Illiniwek during his last football performance in 2006

This will be the second time that I have traveled to Champaign to see the Boilers play the Illini. The first was in 2006 when Joe Tiller’s group took advantage of turnovers to become bowl eligible. While reading the Illinois preview on Hammer and Rails I saw that Boiler T-Mill who does most of the writing had a 7-11 record following Purdue on the road. That got me thinking about my record following Purdue. I have seen Purdue on the road fifteen times so far. Of those fifteen times the Boilers have dropped ten of them. The worst loss by far had to be last season at Wisconsin when they went down 37-0. I am really glad that I sold my Ohio State tickets for last weekend because that would have been horrible to have seen in person. Here is a quick breakdown of my Purdue road trips by team:

  • Notre Dame 0-5 (’94, ’96, ’06, ’08, ’10)
  • Michigan 0-1 (’01)
  • Iowa 0-2 (’04, ’06)
  • Indiana 1-0 (’05)
  • Northwestern 1-0 (’06)
  • Illinois 1-0 (’06)
  • Maryland 0-1 (Bowl ’06)
  • Toledo 1-0 (’07)
  • Central Michigan 1-0 (Bowl ’07)
  • Wisconsin 0-1 (’09)

As you can see if you take Notre Dame out of the equation Purdue has a .500 record when I see them on the road. They lost the first three Big Ten games that I saw in person before reeling off three straight wins. Of course the debacle in Madison last year put an end to that streak. As usual I also like to post the games that I have seen between the two teams. Illinois is one of the rare schools that after Saturday I will have seen just as much on the road as in Ross-Ade Stadium. So far I have seen Illinois twice at Purdue, and the one time on the road at Illinois. Here is a look at those games.

I will be tweeting live from the road and at the game. If you care to read my drivel you can follow me at @csd72 on the Twitter. Purdue is 1-0 when I attend games at Illinois so maybe I can bring them some luck this week. I may also take the opportunity to see the Purdue Ice Hockey club team for the first time this weekend. They play at 3:20 central time just up the road in Bloomington. I have never seen the Boiler hockey team play so this may be as good of a chance as any.

Last week for the Grand Valley game I did a quick chart pitting both teams against each other using stats from ncaa.org. I liked the way it let me see some things so much that I decided to try it this week for the Purdue game. The chart is below. I knew that Illinois had an improved defense, but the stats show how good it really is. The glaring stat on the chart is the return game for both teams. Purdue ranks #118 out of 120 schools in punt returns with 1.25 yards a return. Purdue has only gained 15 yards this season on punt returns. The long was six yards. Not to be outdone Illinois sits just above us at #117 with 2.53. The only schools below both of them are Memphis and New Mexico. That is just terrible from two Big Ten schools. Purdue ranks #119 in kick off returns with 17.68 yards a return. Only Florida State ranks below them. That is terrible. With a struggling offense you really would like to see your special teams score you some points. Unless we field a punt from the opponents one yard line I don’t think Purdue will score. Maybe they will break one this week and make me look stupid. Purdue ranks #80 for punt returns defense allowing 10.22 yards a return. They also are ranked #111 in kick return yardage allowed with 25,58 yards a return. A lot has been made of Purdue having a special teams coach when most schools don’t. I know that he is trying, but man these numbers are bad. Other than that Purdue is giving up exactly the same amount of points that Illinois scores every game. I don’t expect that to change this week. (In case you missed it that is a joke.) The more I see these numbers the more I believe the 15 point spread that Purdue faces. With a new quarterback possibly at the helm the offensive numbers could go down even lower. Who would have thought that a Purdue team would only be averaging 149 yards passing a game? In the early days of Tiller that would have been the first quarter stat.

Purdue Illinois
Rushing Yards Per Game #38 177.71 Rushing Yards Allowed #19 112.43
Passing Yards Per Game #109 149 Passing Yards Allowed #47 202.71
Total Yards Per Game #91 326.71 Total Yards Allowed #23 315.14
Rushing Yards Allowed #42 132.14 Rushing Yards Per Game #27 195.43
Passing Yards Allowed #83 232.86 Passing Yards Per Game #114 134.43
Total Yards Allowed #63 365 Total Yards Per Game #88 329.86
Points Scored #102 19.29 Points Allowed #15 17.71
Points Allowed #62 24.43 Points Scored #78 24.43
Turnovers Lost #62 13 Turnovers Forced #51 13
Turnovers Forced #65 12 Turnovers Lost #85 15
Turnover +/- #68 -1 Turnover +/- #82 -2
Punt Returns #118 1.25 Punt Defense #28 5.87
Punt Defense #80 10.22 Punt Returns #117 2.53
Kickoff Returns #119 17.68 Kickoff Defense #18 19.24
Kickoff Defense #111 25.58 Kickoff Returns #105 19.4
Penalties #77 6.71 Penalties #70 6.29
Penalty Yards #92 61.43 Penalty Yards #80 58.43

It is amazing to me how many stats have a number in the 100’s next to it for Purdue. It would be amazing to make a bowl with numbers this bad. So what don’t the stats tell us about this game? Well the stats don’t really factor in the Sean Robinson factor. He has only had limited snaps on the season. The majority of the offensive numbers were put up by Rob Henry and Robert Marve. One would think that the numbers would go down with a newbie who has not run the offense much this season. Although maybe talent will trump experience. That is Purdue’s hope right now. Ryan Kerrigan  is second in the country with 2.36 tackles for loss per game. He is third overall, but Nick Fairley of Auburn has played in one more game than Ryan, and only has a half tackle more. Ryan is also 15th in the country in sacks per game. He is sitting at .93 right now. It would be nice for him to get a couple this week to get his numbers up a little. Kawann Short ranks 31st nationally with 9.5 tackles for loss. In the Big Ten Kerrigan is first and Short is second right now. That may be the only thing the Boilers have going for them in the next few weeks. Although an upset win Saturday would change the outlook considerably. I just don’t think that the upset will happen though. Illinois has only lost three times this season, and the combined records of those three teams is 22-1. They played all three teams tough as well. Maybe they will overlook the Boilers with a trip to Michigan on tap for the following weekend.

That brings me to my next point. The Boilers need two wins to reach the magical six win mark that makes them bowl eligible. Last week I posted the odds I thought that they had of winning their remaining games. Just for kicks I will post it again this week.

  • @Ohio State 12%
  • @Illinois 30%
  • Wisconsin 10%
  • Michigan 45%
  • @ Michigan State 12%
  • Indiana 55%

The 12% chance I gave them at Ohio State looks kind of silly now that we know what happened. Although if most of the Buckeyes were injured they may have had a chance. This is a new week though. The Boilers are down to five games to get two wins. Realistically I think that you can count out the Michigan State and Wisconsin games. Unless the Boilers pull a major upset I think they will get beaten soundly. That leaves this week at Illinois along with home games against Michigan and Indiana to get two. I would love the bucket game to mean something this year. It would be even better if it meant something to both teams. How would that be for an exciting end to the season?

When the season started I thought that this would be an easy win. Coming into the game with identical overall records you would think that these are two evenly matched teams. Hell we are even ahead of Illinois in the Big Ten Standings. Unfortunately the two teams have gotten to their records in a different way. The Boilers are very undermanned on offense, and the defense it reeling after getting torched for 49 points last week. Albert Evans will still be out at safety. He is a big loss that hurts us back their. He was just coming into his own when he went down. I am heading to Champaign expecting a loss. If we win that will just be icing on the cake for the road trip. It would be nice to see the offense come together. We thought we had that when Henry took over, but he is now hurt. Maybe Robinson can jump start this offense.

Predictions: As usual I will pick all of the Big Ten games, the Irish game, and a few other games that I think are interesting from around the country. Outside of the Big Ten I had a little trouble finding some interesting matchups. Then I thought about the BCS curse that has come up lately so I decided to pick the Auburn and Oregon games. So far this season I am 67-13 picking games. That puts me just under 84% on the season. I have tried to pick some harder games each week instead of easy wins. So far I seem to have done okay on the hard picks, but whiffed on few that I thought were easy. I have also missed on Purdue three times, and I hope this week makes it four. From what I saw earlier in the week Purdue was over a two touchdown underdog. I don’t think the game will be that bad. Of course those same people had Michigan State as just under a touchdown dogs. I just have seen Michigan State pull too many games out this season to pick against them. I will ride them until they are done. I also think that the Cinderella story that is Missouri will end this weekend. The only reason I give Minnesota 17 points is because of Weber and Da’Jon McKnight. They will hook up for something during the game. Here is how I see things shaping up this weekend

  • #5 Michigan State 24 – #18 Iowa 23
  • #14 Nebraska 31 – #6 Missouri 21
  • #11 Ohio State 52 – Minnesota 17
  • Northwestern 38 – Indiana 35
  • Penn State 28 – Michigan 24
  • #13 Stanford 35 – Washington 27
  • #1 Auburn 38 – Ole Miss 28
  • #2 Oregon 35 – USC 31
  • Notre Dame 38 – Tulsa 21
  • Illinois 23 – Purdue 15
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