After taking a week off due to an early bye, the Boilermakers are geared up for their next opponent, the Marshall Thundering Herd. Surprisingly, this is the first ever meeting between the two teams. For this reason, Saturday's game has a little extra magic to it (at least for me), and it should be a very interesting matchup. Also, this is Purdue's last non-conference game of the season, and that means a couple of things.
First, Purdue's schedule gets a lot more difficult from here on out. After taking such an early bye, Purdue has to roll through all of its Big Ten games with no breaks. And the following three weeks after Marshall looks like hell. To open conference play, Purdue faces off with Michigan and Wisconsin at home and then Ohio State on the road in its first three B1G matchups. It couldn't get much tougher than that.
Secondly, this weekend's game can certainly be viewed as a typical early season, "cupcake", non-conference game for Purdue, but Marshall is not to be taken lightly. This is a unit that is coming off a win in a smaller bowl game last season, just like us. They are also coming off a thrilling overtime win at Rice, a team that axed Purdue last year with a blocked field goal at the end of the game. Furthermore, though Marshall plays in a non-automatic qualifier conference, Conference-USA is one of the best and most competitive small conferences in the FBS. And Marshall always comes to play against conference opponents like Houston, ECU, Southern Miss and UCF.
Marshall's glory days are long behind them, but they still have plenty of potential to come into Ross-Ade on Saturday and pull of the upset. One of the Thundering Herd's biggest weapons is their starting Quarterback Rakeem Cato. He is a natural gunslinger and he can certainly burn our DBs all game if they aren't careful. He isn't much of a runner, but Cato puts up huge numbers and helps Marshall's receivers make big, big plays. He is a great leader, he can see the field very well, and he should be respected and dissected by our defense this week. That being said, I think our defense is stellar this year and I don't expect Marshall to be too much for the unit to handle.
I think the key to Saturday's game is for the defense to play tight coverage and force Cato into making mistakes. If they can do that, stopping the run shouldn't be hard to do as well, especially since Marshall's offensive strong suit is the pass. On top of that, I expect our offense to have a solid day. Caleb TerBush won't put up huge numbers and Akeem Shavers won't get a ton of touches, but most of the time our offense is pretty good at two very important things: clock management and securing the football. Overall, we have some impressive weapons on the team this year, and I just don't see Marshall getting the better of us, on either side of the ball. My prediction: Purdue 42, Marshall 10
Anyways, enough of my opinions and analysis on the upcoming game. Here is just about all of the vital information you could need about the football game this Saturday:
Opponent: Marshall Thundering Herd (2-2, 1-0 C-USA)
2011 Record: 7-6 (5-3 C-USA), Won Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl 20-10 vs. Florida International
Last week: Marshall won on the road against conference opponent Rice 54-51 in overtime.
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Time: 3:15 PM ET
Location: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Series record: First meeting
Ticket information: Tickets can be purchased at www.purduesports.com. Prices range from $20 to $60, based on section. Tickets for the game can also be found at StubHub. At this time, a little over 400 tickets are left at that site and prices range from $14 to $299, based on section.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (All 27 PSN radio channels can be found here), Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 198
Opponent blog(s): Marshall doesn't have a blog at SB Nation, but they do have an independent sports blog at blogspot.com: Marshall Thundering Blog. Any other information specifically pertaining to their football team can be found at the school's official athletic site: www.herdzone.com.
Weather at kickoff: According to weather.com, it will be 72 and mostly sunny on Saturday with a slight 4 mph breeze and a 10% chance of rain.
(For the curious) Other Big Week 5 FBS Games:
- #25 Baylor @ #9 West Virginia, 12 PM ET, FX
- #12 Texas @ Oklahoma State, 7:50 PM ET, FOX
- #14 Ohio State @ #20 Michigan State, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
- Wisconsin @ #22 Nebraska, 8 PM ET, ABC
- Minnesota @ Iowa, 12 PM ET, ESPN2
- Penn State @ Illinois, 12 PM ET, ESPN
- Indiana @ Northwestern, 12 PM ET, Big Ten Network