Well this post will be tough. The Boilers have lost the last two games by a combined 93-10. They have lost their last two to the Badgers by a combined score of 61-3. That does not inspire great confidence in me as I prepare to head down to West Lafayette. A lot of people are talking about how we were in a similar situation last season with #7 Ohio State coming into town. This is not the same situation. The Purdue team last season had lost some tight games in their tailspin. This team has gotten their butts kicked the last two games, and are showing no signs of coming out of it.
The last two weeks I have gone to the NCAA site and compiled the statistics for both teams to look at. I started it to get a better understanding of the two teams that I saw play in Big Rapids. I thought that it would be a good way to look at the Purdue game until I read the actual Purdue game notes the next day and saw that they had a great section with that exact information on it. So I will leave that to them from now on, and just pick out a few things to look at going into the game.
The first stat that has to be addressed is the Purdue passing game. They are ranked 115th out of 120 schools in passing yards per game. The 136.9 that they are putting up a game is terrible. How can you even think about running the ball if the other team is stacking the line? Robert Marve had the best day of the year against Notre Dame to start the season when he threw for 220 yards. Since then it has all been downhill. Just looking at the offensive stats makes you wince. In the almost two games that he played this season Keith Smith had 18 receptions. After eight games Cortez Smith and Kyle Adams lead the team with 22 catches a piece. They are lacking any consistency on offense, and that is really hurting them right now. Every time someone steps up like Ross they end up injured. The Boilers did not need to throw the ball much in a couple wins, but now the rest of the Big Ten picked up on what Northwestern and Minnesota did not. Purdue does not want to throw the ball. Last week Robinson was 7-20 for 52 yards on the day. That will take your average down a bit. Here are some other offensive stats. They rank 104th in total offense with 311.5 yards per game, and 106th in scoring offense with 18.1 points per game. Against a good Wisconsin defense this will be tough to improve on this week.
The highlights of the last couple of weeks have been the two stars of the Boilermaker defensive line Ryan Kerrigan and Kawann Short. Last week Short had 2 sacks to bring his total to six for the season. Kerrigan had a boring one sack to bring his total to 7.5 on the year. They both sit atop the national leaderboard right now. Kerrigan ranks #14 and Short is #25 in sacks. Kerrigan leads the country in tackles for loss with 18.5. Short sits at #16 with 12.5. Short also leads the team with six pass break ups. These guys are dominating right now. J.J. Watt shows up on both lists as well so we should get to see some defense this week. If Kerrigan can get a 1/2 sack this week he will move into 3rd place all time on the Purdue leader board with Jeff Zgonina and Akin Ayodele. The only game this season where he did not get at least one sack was against Minnesota so looking just at that the odds are in his favor. Kerrigan is also one forced fumble away from moving into first place on his own for Purdue, and tying the Big Ten record. Ryan had three forced fumbles in the first four games, but has not had one since. This would be a good week for him to get the record. The defense will have to help out this week if the Boilers are to have a chance. The Boilers rank 7th in the country in sacks, but the Badgers are 11th in sacks allowed. This should be a great matchup to watch.
Wisconsin comes into the game with a good offense. They have a trio of very good running backs that can each take control of the game. They are led by John Clay who has been a force all season so far. They are rushing for over 220 yards per game this season. Purdue is giving up 139 yards a game so this should be a test. The most by an opponent this season was Scheelhaase last week when he ran for 118 yards. The longest run that the Boilers have given up was to Austin Dantin the Toledo quarterback. Do you see a pattern here? So far the Boilers have shut down the running backs this season, but the mobile quarterbacks have gotten to them. Scott Tolzein is not a mobile quarterback so maybe we can not get burned by him. Stopping the three headed monster at running back will be another story.
Special teams play seemed to improve last week. O.J. Ross had a nice return, but was injured on the play. Wayne Gravesande had a nice day on punt returns. They moved from 119th in the country to 111th. The kickoff return team has dropped to 119th in the country. It is hard to put a playmaker back there though because they are so needed on offense. Once again a special teams touchdown would be a great way to get the Boilers closer.
The team that will take the field Saturday is a young one. On the two deeps posted earlier in the week 10 of the 22 players on offense were either freshmen or sophomores. There are 12 underclassmen on the defensive side of the ball. The good news is that these guys are getting experience, but the bad news is that they are thrown into the fire in the middle of the Big Ten season. The optimist in me says that this will pay off down the road.
So what do I think will happen on Saturday? I would love to sit here and predict the upset, but I think that we could have the team play the game of their lives and it would be a close game. I have only seen the Boilers beat the Badgers once so I wouldn’t mind seeing it this weekend. I just can’t come up with enough reasons for that to happen. My only hope is that the game is at least somewhat close. I will be there though cheering them on, and hoping for a miracle. We are just too beat up right now facing a tough team that has had two weeks to prepare for us. It will be a tough task. The team sits at 4-4 needing two wins to become bowl eligible. I think they might have to wait a week for the first win. If they do win though I will see you on the field! If they don’t there is always a basketball game on Tuesday.
History: I have seen the Boilers and Badgers meet up four times before tomorrow. The Boilers won the first meeting in 1997, and have not won a game since. Here is how the four games went. In 1999 the Boilers and Badgers met on the exact same date as they will Saturday. I did a quick look back at that game yesterday. Luckily I was working in Iowa when the big game was played in 2004 so although it hurt the week leading up to it, I think it was for the best that I did not get to see that one in person. If the date is highlighted it means that I have a recap on this site.
- 10/18/1997 Purdue 45 – #24 Wisconsin 20
- 11/6/1999 #10 Wisconsin 28 #17 Purdue 21
- 10/21/2006 #21 Wisconsin 24 – Purdue 3
- 10/31/2009 Wisconsin 37 – Purdue 0
Predictions: I am 75-15 on the season after going 8-2 again last week. This week I hope that I can have a good week. After these picks I will sit at 100 games picked this season. Even someone such as myself can do the math on percentages then so I wouldn’t mind seeing a 10-0 week. Here is how I see the week panning out:
- #7 Nebraska 35 – Iowa State 17
- #14 Michigan State 45 – Minnesota 10
- #16 Iowa 35 – Indiana 17
- Illinois 31 – Michigan 28
- Penn State 17 – Northwestern 15
- #6 Alabama 31 – #10 LSU 14
- #3 TCU 31 – #5 Utah 27
- #19 South Carolina 31 – #18 Arkansas 24
- #13 Stanford 41 – #15 Arizona 38
- #9 Wisconsin 42 – Purdue 9
I did not pick any cupcake games for my non Big Ten matchups. I have been picking Nebraska all season so that was a given. I picked four games matching up two top 25 teams for my four filler picks. This could be either a good week or a really bad week for me.