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Purdue at Minnesota: H&R Staff Picks

The Staff of H&R chimes in with their picks for Purdue at Minnesota.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is starting to feel good about the Boilers and the Darrell Hazell era. The last time that we felt this good was before the Cincinnati game last year, which promptly led to the first awful third quarter and sounds beating of the Hazell Era.

Let's hope that changes tomorrow. Here are the staff picks:

Juan Crespo

A few weeks back in wabbott9's State of Indiana Power Rankings, he had a Quantum Physics edition after the loss to Notre Dame. In the comments, along with my picks for the Southern Illinois game, I mentioned how Purdue's season was like Schrödinger's Cat in that it is both dead and alive, but that we would find out soon after the So. Ill. and Iowa games.

Well, after the Iowa game, the cat appeared to be dead, until the team made a couple of changes, most notably replacing Etling with Appleby. Now we're back in the same place: Purdue is both dead and alive. Sure, the cat may seem alive after playing Michigan State close this past weekend, but we'll truly find out this weekend at Minnesota.

If we win: the cat's alive and Purdue has a shot at a bowl game.

If we lose, especially by a couple TDs: the cat's dead, and the rest of the schedule looks bleak.

I would love to see Purdue win this weekend and knock Minnesota's chances of winning the B1G West. After last season, I would consider that a relative upset. But it is not going to happen. First, Purdue has played terribly in TCF Stadium (2009 and 2012). Second, Purdue seems to have bad luck in the month of October. Sure, the 2009 team beat #7 Ohio State exactly 5 years ago today. But outside of that, Purdue has never done well during this month. In fact, Purdue has never won a majority of it's game in this month since 2003. And third, we're still Purdue and Minnesota has continued to improve throughout the season.

Purdue plays tough in the 1st half, but remain dead in the 3rd quarter. Minnesota takes advantage by building a lead and prevents any comeback effort by Purdue. I hope I'm wrong... Purdue 14, Minnesota 38

Rachel Van Gessel

Purdue is looking better and better these past few weeks, and this will be the week we see the true progress by picking up the W. The Boilers put up good numbers against a tough Michigan State defense last week. Minnesota's D is not nearly as tough as the Spartans. Purdue will have little trouble getting the ball down the field. The only question is if we can keep the ball in our hands. As long as the Minnesota defense and special teams don't score Purdue will be able to pull off the upset. The Gopher offense is not balanced which should help us key in on the run game and get the stops. Our secondary will be the difference maker and get us off the field on third down. Purdue 35, Minnesota 17

Andrew Zimmerman

Purdue is not good enough right now to win a game on the road against a team like Minnesota.  Even if the Boilers were able to somehow keep the Gophers from racking up yards on the ground, the Purdue secondary just isn't playing very well right now.  Minnesota's passing game isn't flashy but it is consistent and efficient.  I think this is going to be one of those games where we, as fans, are constantly frustrated by Purdue's inability to get stops on defense.  Minnesota's defense will keep Appleby in check and the Gophers will prevail in overtime:  Minnesota 30, Purdue 27

Andrew Ledman (the NEW staff writer!)

Purdue heads to Minnesota after the near defeat of Michigan State and I'll be honest I think Purdue has a real chance. After not playing the Gophers last season Purdue again travels to TCF Bank Stadium to try to deposit a victory...get it? The last time Purdue wound up in Minneapolis was 2012 and Purdue put on one of the more embarrassing efforts of the Danny Hope era getting trounced 44-28 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates. Tomorrow though is a different day with two different teams. Minnesota is a run heavy team with barely any semblance of a passing game. I mean they average just over 119 yards a game through the air. Running the ball though is a different story as these Gophers burrow for over 200 yards a game good for one of the top marks in the nation. Before we go anointing them the next Wisconsin let's take a look at their schedule shall we? They come into the game at a respectable 5-1 (2-0). The victories however are over Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose State, Michigan, and Northwestern. Any other year you'd say hey that's the typical non-conference schedule and they are 2-0 against Michigan and Northwestern that's gotta count for something right!?!? Then you remember that this year Brady Hoke is doing everything he can to get fired up at Michigan and apparently getting the ability to unionize has really hurt the Wildcats as they struggle mightily (insert collective bargaining joke here if you're anti-union). The lone loss for the Gophers comes against a TCU Horned Frog team that puts points on the board by the boatload. Minnesota could manage just seven points against them.

So what does this all mean? Is Minnesota any good? Does Purdue have enough skill in the front seven to disrupt a pretty solid Minnesota running game? Well the loss of Sean Robinson is a bad one for Purdue (really didn't think I'd be saying that two years ago). Linebacker was already a weak position for the Boilermakers and it got exposed last week against Michigan State in Purdue's first game without their middle linebacker. Bentley filled in admirably and will be a great one at Purdue IMO but he's just not there yet. Purdue is forced to use sticks, glue, and spit to build a linebacking corps and it's a real problem. When Minnesota comes running at this Purdue defense on 3rd-4 or 3rd-6 or even 3rd-1 can someone step up and make a play? I'm optimistic that the defensive line will continue to improve and do their part but the linebackers have me nervous. If Purdue is going to win the game the key is linebacker play and stopping the run.

On the offensive side of the ball Minnesota gives up lots of yards. Like lots. Like ranked 115th in the nation in yards allowed. Somehow though they rank 16th in points allowed. There's that bend don't break offense. Of course again the schedule plays a factor here too as Minnesota's schedule has been Charmin soft. Austin Appleby changes this Purdue offense and allows them to actually be two dimensional. This will be just his third start but in his first two he's averaging 34.5 points again. The Michigan State defense, to me at least, is better than the Minnesota defense. Different, but better. Appleby needs to continue to use Anthrop in space to see if he can continue to break plays. Justin Sinz is that safety valve that Appleby can always rely on. With Knauf out though it takes away a weapon. I think Purdue can put up points against Minnesota but will the defense hold up their end? Purdue 34, Minnesota 31

(My record 5-2 misses CMU and Iowa)


I have had a good feeling about this game since before the season. Over at the Daily Gopher there has been some discussion about my view of "Minnesota not being a good passing team" and they have some merit. They are rated very low because they don't get a lot of yards per game, but it is still an effective passing game because they simply choose not to pass very much. The ground games moves the ball and when Minnesota does choose to pass, it is effective. Just because Navy doesn't pass much doesn't mean they are a bad team.

That said, the ground game is the key. Minnesota is very good on the ground and this is the first game of the closing stretch of five games in which we will face four of the top seven rushers in the country (David Cobb, Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, and Tevin Coleman). Purdue doesn't need to completely shut the ground game down, but holding them in the 120-150 yards range would certainly help a lot.

The biggest thing I fear is a regression. Purdue has played pretty well in the last two games offensively. Defensively, it played very well against Iowa, but struggled the last two weeks, especially on third down. If the offense can keep moving while the defense returns to the form it showed against Iowa the Boilers have a shot to win. This is still a young team, and young teams lack consistency. I think Purdue shows that lack of consistency and falls short just because they're due for a bad game, honestly. Minnesota 31, Purdue 20