Optimism is high around here, as the staff picks are bully on Purdue as they face off against the Fighting Illini. Yes, Purdue might be in danger of actually winning a game. Here are the staff picks:
As Purdue fans, we think we have it bad. And well, yeah, I guess we do.
BUT ILLINOIS FANS HAVE HAD IT WORSE.
Illinois is coming into Ross-Ade riding a 20-game conference losing streak. Their new coach is 5-17 in two years.
Their pets' heads are falling off.
Sadly, as of this prediction (Wednesday night), we are seven point underdogs. But that doesn't mean we won't try our hardest! These are the best odds Vegas has given us since NIU was only a 3.5 point favorite.
So you're telling me there's a chance?
Yes. As bad as IU has been recently, they still walloped Illinois 52-35 (on a side note, yeah IU has given up 43 points a game in conference play, but that doesn't mean we'll put up any more than 24 when we play them next week. And we probably aren't going to be able to stop their offense, it is after all a FBS offense. Are you reading this Travis? This is my IU prediction for next week.). This is as big of a must win as there can be in a 1-9 season. Purdue isn't going anywhere and in the grand scheme of things this game will mean very little. But if you lose this game and are the source of relief for one of the worst Big Ten losing streaks of all-time, you are a laughingstack. As much crap as Purdue has gotten this year, if we lose to this Illinois team, it's a whole new level. A win and we're just another bad BCS conference team. A loss and we're [insert very, very unanimously accepted bad team as brunt of joke]. Purdue 28, Illinois 17
Paul Branham, Pilot, Boilermaker Special VII
I'm feeling strangely confident about this one. I am not sure if it's delusions about our team improving (which I think they have... a little) or stubbornness in refusing to believe that we could be bad enough to lose to a team that has lost 20 straight conference games. Our offense is going to have to do the work if we are going to win this one, though, because Scheelhaaaerifisnwridfise (I think that's how you spell it...) can be a dangerous quarterback when his offense is clicking. I expect both defenses to have major issues this weekend but Danny Etling finally gets a break against a weak defense and we edge out the Illini. Purdue 28 Illinois 24
Rachel Van Gessel
It's going to happen... we're finally going win a conference game. This weekend's match-up against Illinois is Senior Day. No one wants to lose their last home game, and our boys aren't going to.
Illinois's defense is just as bad as our defense which bodes well for our offense. Our passing game will continue to improve after last week's showing against Penn State. It hurts that Knauf is out but we still have plenty of other guys. Cameron Posey has come on strong lately and will be target for Etling in addition to DeAngelo Yancey. Our running game will actually be able to move the ball this week, and we'll have our first 100+ yards rushing since the NIU game.
On the other side of the ball we'll be able to come up the big plays and create turnovers. It seems highly likely that Ricardo Allen or someone else will intercept Scheelhaase. He's thrown 10 picks this season and hopefully our D-line will be able to put some pressure on him and force him into another one. Illinois' running attack isn't particularly powerful but we'll still manage to make them look good on occasion, like we've done with pretty much every team we've played this year.
Special teams will give us a boost. Senior Cody Webster is going to continue to bomb punts and our return game will help set up our offense. Purdue 31 Illinois 27
You have two lousy defenses going against a lousy offense and a mediocre offense. What is not to love? Both defenses are bad enough that both offenses should be able to move the ball. In Purdue's case though, the offense might be bad enough to actually make the Fighting Illini offense look good though.
I believe Purdue is going to win though. Call it blind faith at this point, but the Illinois defense is by far the worst we have seen all year long. The last two weeks against Iowa and Penn State there have been moments of actual competence by the offense. I think against one of the worst run defenses in the country Purdue will finally be able to run the ball and both Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom will have a big day. I say this mostly because if we can't run on Illinois, we can't run on anyone. Purdue 30, Illinois 28
Fornelli: I haven't really made a secret about it this week, but I think the Illini are going to win this game. In fact, I think they're going to win it with relative ease. Yes, we have problems. A lot of them. But Purdue actually has more. The Illini actually have areas of the team you can consider a strength, but if you watch Purdue game tape -- don't -- you won't find any area of this team you can call a strength. So as long as the Illini don't make mistake after mistake -- and I'm not putting it past them -- this game should go our way and be comfortable. Illinois 35-14 (8-2 on the season).
Primiano: I've written a recap for almost every football game since the site launched last year the week of the Indiana game. I still haven't been able to write one about a Big Ten victory. That ends this week. Purdue, you are terrible. Illinois 38-17 (7-3 on the season).
Birkhead: I think the offense is going to have a great game. If any version of the offense that played Ohio State last week shows up, Illinois should score 40 against the Boilers. We finally get the monkey off of our back, and Tim Beckman pops the "champaign". Illinois 45-20 (8-2 on the season).
Cassidy: It's here. This is it. The game of the season. The game we can win! Comparisons between this years Purdue team and last year's Illini team have come up occasionally in the past month or two, and for good reason. Both teams embarrassed themselves for months on end. That's on the line this week with an Illini loss cementing two things: that the 2012 Illini were worse than Purdue AND that the 2013 Illini are worse than Purdue. And, as Dr. Seuss would say, being worse than Purdue is not a thing you'd like to do. God help us. Illinois 24-21 (6-4 on the season).