That is all we keep hearing all week. Indiana is attempting to use it as a rallying cry. Crimson Quarry called it the worst loss in the history of Indiana's football program. Mike Carmin talks about how Indiana players remember it by putting it up in their lockers. I find it interesting that they remember a game they were not at, as Indiana certainly did not show up last year. There would have been more honor in a forfeit.
Really, that is what it boils down to. Indiana should be embarrassed by last year's "effort." They didn't even try to defend the Bucket, and we took it back by force. They now get another shot to play for only pride against us. I agree that this Hoosier team is much better than last year's edition, but 62-10 still looms from the last time we saw these teams play.
It is still our Bucket. Come and get it.
2008 Record: 3-9, 1-7 Big Ten
2009 Record: 4-7, 1-6 Big Ten
Bowl Result: none
Blog Representation: Crimson Quarry
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 69-36-6 (Purdue leads Old Oaken Bucket portion 55-26-3)
Last Purdue win: 11/22/2008 at Purdue 62-10
Last Indiana win: 11/17/2007 at Indiana 27-24
Indiana wanted to establish a downhill running game with its new pistol offense, but instead has developed a pretty good passing attack. Our pass defense has been hit or miss at times this year, the same as our run defense. Let's hope we don't see a repeat of our last visit to Bloomington where the Hoosiers had a terrible running game, but we let Marcus Thigpen run draw after draw like we had never seen the play before.
The offense centers around quarterback Ben Chappell. He has completed 635 of his passes for 2,675 yards and 15 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He really should have 16 touchdowns after that horrible call in the Iowa game, but we won't get into that. Chappell has also rushed for two scores, but he has not been the runner that Joey Elliott has been with -23 yards rushing. Indiana's offense prides itself on taking care of the ball, but interceptions have been a problem of late with 6 in the last three games.
Chappell does a good job of spreading the ball around to some talented receivers. Tandon Doss is deserving of some all Big Ten recognition with 73 catches for 911 yards and five scores. Doss is only a sophomore, and he does have 92 yards rushing and another score. This is from the Wildcat formation I believe, which I still don't understand why it is so hard to stop when you're basically screaming the guy won't pass. Damarlo Belcher (57-706-4) is another quality receiver we will face. Tarrance Turner (42-413-1), Mitchell Evans (23-254-2), and Max Dedmond (17-132-1) will also likely get in on the action. Indiana is at its best when they can spread the field and get everyone involved.
The running game is not very strong, but has the potential for a big day if we let them. Darius Willis has rushed for just 465 yards and six scores, but he is a big play threat. He had 153 yards and two scores at Michigan and also cracked the century mark against Northwestern. He left the Wisconsin game with an injury, however, and did not play at Penn State last week. Demetrius McCray (290-1) is second on the team in rushing, but he has done little since a 134 yard day against Western Michigan in game 2. Indiana went primarily with Bryan Payton (148-1) last week against Penn State, but their running game should be severely lacking if Willis does not play.
Indiana's offensive line has been strong all year in pass protection, giving up just 13 sacks. Part of that is the design of the offense, which prefers quick passes much like Toledo used in the opener. Coach Terry Hoeppner made recruiting solid linemen a priority in his short time in Bloomington. It is paying off. Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon are the senior anchors of the line at tackle and guard respectively. James Brewer is a big junior tackle at 6'8" 331lbs. Center Will matte may be the weak link. He is the smallest player on the line at 6'2" 285 lbs. He is also only a redshirt freshman. Expect Mike Neal and Kawann Short to try and take advantage of this up the middle. Saxon and sophomore guard Justin Pagan will be there to help out.
I am not worried about moving the ball on Indiana's defense. I am worried about keeping it against a defense that has produced 29 turnover in 11 games. Ball security has not been our strong suit all year. We cannot afford to hand over defensive touchdowns like we did against Oregon and Michigan State.
Linebacker Matt Mayberry leads that turnover parade with a team high 99 tackles, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery. He is a well-rounded linebacker with 3.5 sacks as well. The 5th year senior will definitely want to have a huge impact in his final collegiate game, as he will very likely be playing on Sundays next year. Will Patterson and Tyler Replogle are second and third in tackles with 63 and 75, respectively. This is a veteran linebacking group that has done very well all year long.
Senior safety Austin Thomas leads the Hoosiers with four interceptions and is fourth on the team with 62 tackles. We must be aware of his presence over the middle, as he has 115 return yards on picks. He is joined in the secondary by safety Nick Polk, as well as corners Donnell Jones and Adrian Burks. Indiana has been hurt with some injuries in its secondary. The highly touted Jeremy Finch has been limited all year long. Projected starter Chris Adkins has missed five games. Wide receiver turned corner Ray Fisher has also been out recently.
There should be room to run on Indiana because the defensive line is great at getting to the quarterback, but struggles to stop the run. Indiana gives up 162 yards rushing per game, so Ralph Bolden should have room to run. Edns Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton are dangerous pass rushers that we must contain on the edge. Middleton has not played to his All-American form of 2007, but the dude was still an All-American at one time. Kirlew leads the team with 5.5 sacks. While Middleton and Kirlew are experienced seniors, Larry Black Jr. and Adam Replogle (Tyler's brother) are freshmen defensive tackles. We simply must attack them.
Indiana Special Teams:
If there is a great equalizer in this game it is our crappy special teams coverage against their excellent returners. Coverage killed us last week. It may not get better as Doss is a speedy returner with Fisher averages 37 yards per kick return with two scores. McCray is also very capable of returning kicks. Doss and Fisher are also very good at returning punts, while Indiana's coverage units are a little shoddy themselves. The Hoosiers have given up a punt return for a score.
Nick Freeland is a bit of a liability at kicker, making just 14 of 23 attempts on the season with a long of only 38. it will be a difference from last week, when Michigan State made two very big 52-yard field goals. Chris Hagerup is an excellent punter averaging almost 41 yards per kick.
Indiana can use that for as much motivation as they want, but Purdue has players that remember it too. Purdue has to be confident that its defense did what it wanted to, when it wanted to against Indiana last year. Three of the ten points only came about from a big Marcus Thigpen return. The rest was against the second string long after the game was decided. Offensively our weapons have changed, but aside from the turnover issues I think we are a better offensive team this year. We have more balance in the running game and the pass. We have to be confident that this Indiana team is not drastically different from the one we thrashed last season.
That said, the Hoosiers are much better than last year, and honestly are in the same position we are. They have only four wins, but they have to be thinking that at least three more got away. Both teams have only themselves to blame for this game not meaning more, with Indiana having a valid beef against Big Ten officials for losses at Iowa and Michigan.
Even though we have dominated the rivalry over the past decade the games in Bloomington have been much closer affairs. Both of Indiana's wins have come there, while the 1999 and 2003 games were close ones. Indiana has expanded its student section for this game, and they have been drawing better crowds this season. This won't be your typical apathetic crowd in Bloomington, but it won't be the raucous atmosphere of two years ago.
As I said yesterday, the winner of this game will likely be the 2010 "Big Ten team that will surprise" when the next season's predictions come out. For Purdue, a 4-4 Big Ten record after the disastrous start would be huge. We also want to prove that even though we are rebuilding, we are still decidedly better than Indiana. For Indiana, getting the Bucket would be a huge confidence boost for a program always in need of one. If they get it, something may be brewing in Bloomington for the future.
I will be heading down to Bloomington for this one. It will make my 10th straight Bucket game attended. I am concerned that we will lose if "bad Purdue" shows up, but I am still buoyed by the confidence of 62-10. I hope are players are as well.
Keys to the Game for Purdue:
Play infinitely better against the run than the 2007 game
Establish Ralph Bolden and Jaycen Taylor early
Remember that you are Purdue and you dominate this rivalry
Weather the early Indiana storm as they always start well
Dare Indiana to run the football