When: 4:30 EST, December 27
Why to watch: This will be the first game for Head Coach Danny Hope after receiving a two year extension on his contract last Friday. He certainly doesn’t want to come out and lay an egg after the University has committed to him as the head coach for the next five seasons. Regardless of the outcome of the game, the Boilermakers (6-6, 4-4 in the Big Ten) will still finish with their best record ever under Hope (that should tell you something), but another loss to a MAC team on a national stage would be very embarrassing for Hope and Athletic Director Morgan Burke. It will also be interesting to see how the Boilers respond to their recent rash of arrests, suspensions, and injuries that have occurred between the end of the season and this game. Also, the game is at Ford Field and the Lions are good this year. Maybe one or two Lions players will be at the game. That’d be nifty.
Who to watch: For the Boilermakers on offense, there are a couple of things to keep an eye on. First is the ongoing season long
ridiculous, ludicrous, insane logical decision decision by Danny Hope to have a two quarterback system in the form of Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve. Neither quarterback has a particularly different skill set from the other (unlike a running style vs. pro style system some teams use), so the decision has been a head scratcher all season. Nonetheless, look for both QBs to get playing time at the expense of one developing continuity with the offense. Next, expect to see both Akeem Hunt and speedster Akeem Shavers split carries at running back after starter Ralph Bolden went down in the final game of the season with yet another torn ACL. The Boilers will also be without Wide Receiver O.J. Ross, so Antavian Edison figures to get a lot of looks from…well, one of the QBs. For the Boilers on defense, Purdue features one of the best interior lineman in the country in the form of Kawann Short. He’s no Ryan Kerrigan, but the junior tackle had 17 tackles for loss on the season, along with 6.5 sacks. Dude can play.
The Broncos (7-5, 5-3 in the MAC) feature senior Jordan White, an All-American Wide Receiver and in all likelihood a first or second round pick in next year’s NFL draft. Allow his season numbers to wash over you: 127 receptions for 1646 yards and 16 TDs. Those are Madden-like stats. He needs 110 yards to set the all time MAC record for receiving yards in a career. My money says he gets it. He’ll be catching passes from QB Alex Carder, who is a very solid junior, ranking in the top 20 nationally in several passing categories (it probably helps to have one of the best WRs in the country on your team, though). The Broncos are not great on defense, ranking second-to-last in yards allowed in the MAC, but their standout is tackle Drew Nowak who was named the MAC Defensive Player of the year.
Prediction: Honestly, I have no idea. This is a Purdue team that is the epitome of inconsistent. IF the Boilermakers pull off the victory, it will be their first winning streak of the season. Think about that for a second. The Boilermakers scored a lot of points at the end of the season, and going against a suspect MAC defense tells me they can do the same in this game. But this time they will have to do it without Ross and Bolden. I think this will be a high scoring affair with both offenses running rampant on the other’s defense. I’ll give the edge to Purdue, only because they are from the B1G and should have better athletes than a school from the MAC. Then again, the Boilers did lose to Toledo last year.
After all is said and done, I’ll say Purdue wins, 38-34.
Don’t make me look bad, Boilers.