It feels like 1996 all over again. Indiana is coming to Ross-Ade on a lengthy Big Ten losing streak and Purdue is mired in another bowl-less season. In that game, Indiana sent Bill Mallory off with a seventeen point victory. It was their first Big Ten victory since beating Purdue at Ross-Ade two years earlier.
The Hoosiers haven't won there since. In fact, they haven't even been close. Purdue has won 52-7, 41-13, 34-10, 63-24, 28-19, and 62-10 at Ross-Ade over Indiana since then. Despite this, Purdue is only a 3.5 point favorite on Saturday. If I were a gambler, that is what I would call easy money. For this being a rivalry game, the Hoosiers have rarely even been competitive on our home field of late. It got so bad that the Crimson Quarry called the epic beating of two years ago the worst loss in Indiana football history.
There hasn't been a lot ot look forwward to in this season of unending misery, but for the past five weeks I felt if we could win just one game Indiana would be there for the taking and a bowl bid. While that possibility is now gone in about the most painful fashion possible, we still have to do what has been expected of us for months: We must kick the Hoosiers around and keep the Bucket where it belongs. As an added bonus, it could be the second coach-killer game of the season for us. We already got rid of Tim Brewster. If Purdue wins again by a lopsided margin it is entirely possible that Bill Lynch will be done as well.
2010 Record: 4-7, 0-7 Big Ten
2009 Season: 4-8, 1-7 Big Ten
Bowl result: None
Blog Representation: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 70-36-6
Last Purdue win: 11/21/2009 at Indiana 38-21
Last Indiana win: 11/17/2007 at Indiana 27-24
We all know the story of Indiana this year. Their offense threw up huge numbers agaisnt the easiest non-conference schedule in the country. Once in Big Ten play, they have struggled while the defense has been terrible at best. They have scored at least 35 points in each win, but their best output by far in conference play was against MIchigan's "defense". They put up 35 in that game, but their other six conference games have seen them score more than 20 just once.
The offensive line is not bad, giving up just 11 sacks, but they need to be permissable for two more sacks and one forced fumble from Ryan Kerrigan. Andrew McDonald and James Brewer will be the tackles trying to slow down Kerrigan. Justin Pagan, Marc Damisch, and Will Matte handle the interior line spots. Generally, they give Ben Chappell time to throw, but the running game hasn't been a threat for weeks.
That running game suffered a major blow with the season-ending injury to Darius Willis. Trea Burgess has taken over as the lead rusher, but he is averaging barely more than 30 yards per game. The Hoosiers ranked 110th in the nation in rushing. we have faced much better rushing attacks in the last three weeks, so if they are able to gain much on the ground we have some serious coaching issues to discuss.
Indiana's passing game is still a danger. Demarlo Belcher, Terrance Turner, and Tandon Doss are three very good targets for Chappell to throw to. They have struggled mostly because the Indiana running game has not been a threat. they couldn't put up enough offense in the two games where Indiana's defense actually decided to show up against Iowa and Northwestern. Ted Bolser is a solid tight end, especially in goal line situations, but we need to make sure they don't get to the goal line.
Everything we need to know happened two weeks ago. Indiana was flat-out embarassed in giving up 83 points at Wisconsin. Crimson Quarry agreed that this was running up the score, but ultimately it was Indiana's responsibility to stop someone. The Badgers ran all over them and did what they wanted, when they wanted to. As a result, Indiana ranks 102nd in the nation in points given up per game. As long as Rob Henry can continue to be effective like he was in the first three quarters in East Lansing we should be alright.
Darius Johnson is the best pass rusher with 4.5 sacks. He plays alongside Adam Replogle, whose brother, Tyler Replogle, leads the Hoosiers in tackles with 76 stops. Jeff Thomas is just behind him with 74 stops as a linebacker.
Indiana's defense doesn't create many turnovers. Mitchell Evans has three interceptions, but they only have seven as a team. Matt Earnest has a 56-yard pick six ont he season. The Hoosiers have only recovered four fumbles, but they have lost six with 12 team interceptions. We have to take care of the football once again. As we saw on Saturday, things fall apart quickly once we start turning it over. When we don't our offense can actually be effective.
Most teams have had success running the ball on Indiana. They give up nearly 182 yards per game on the ground. We should expect a big day from Keith Carlow and Dan Dierking in their final career games. Henry will have some room to run as well. In the passing game we should have some room as they give up 237 yards per game. I like the development of Antavian Edison, as well as the emergence of Al-Terek McBurse as a slot receiver. We missed our opportunity to have a big day two weeks ago against Michigan. Now is the time to make up for it.
Indiana Special Teams:
Chris Hagerup has had a disappointing year as punter, averaging less than 40 yards per kick. MItch Ewald stepped in for Nick Freeland at kicker and has been more effective, hitting 14 of 17 field goals with a long of 49.
Doss handles both kick and punt return duties. He has been held in check so far, but with J.B. Gibboney running the show you can't be sure. At 25.7 yard per kick return Doss is more than dangerous to but a big return.
Both of these teams expected so much more out of this season. Both saw their bowl hopes officially end last week in dramatic fashion. For the third straight year, only pride and the Bucket are on the line. If it is anything like two years ago, even that won't matter. I have never seen a team roll over and die in a rivalry game like Indiana did in 2008. They would have accomplished more if they hadn't even gotten on the bus.
Then there is the matter of Bill Lynch's future. Indiana has lost 12 straight Big Ten games. If they lose a 13th there is no reason to believe that the streak won't get any longer next season. Since Austin Starr hit that field goal in the 2007 Bucket game Indiana is a dismal 2-21 in Big Ten play. Lynch is 13-4 against non-conference foes, but two of the losses were in their only two games against BCS conference opponents. You can't tell me the school would have any confidence moving forward if they suffer yet another bad loss to an awful Purdue team. I think Indiana needs to win this game for Lynch to have a job next season.