Only a handful of times has the Bucket game had even a blip on the national radar:
1945: In the only time both teams are ranked going into the game No. 4 Indiana completes an undefeated season (yes, in football) at 9-0-1 and wins the Big Ten with a 26-0 win over No. 20 Purdue (7-3) in Bloomington. World War II was even over at this point, so I have no idea how this happened. A tie with Northwestern prevents Indiana(!?!?!?!) from possibly winning a national title, which would have been a bigger upset than had Germany and Japan come back to beat the U.S. earlier in the year.
1966: No. 10 Purdue crushes Indiana (1-8-1) 51-6 in West Lafayette to clinch its first ever Rose Bowl berth. Purdue would win in Pasadena to go 9-2.
1967: In the only Bucket game to ever decide the Big Ten title Indiana (9-2) beats No. 3 Purdue (8-2) 19-14 in Bloomington to clinch their only Rose Bowl berth. Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota each tie at 7-1 for the Big Ten title. To date, it is the last Big Ten football title for both Minnesota and Indiana.
1979: No. 12 Purdue beats Indiana 37-21 during the only 10-win season in Purdue history. Purdue went on to win the Bluebonnet bowl to finish 10-2, while Indiana upset undefeated Bringham Young 38-37 to win the Holiday Bowl and finish 8-4. This was the first time both teams went bowling after the game.
2000: Purdue behind Drew Brees crushes Indiana 41-13 in West Lafayette to clinch its second Rose Bowl berth and first in 34 years. I remember that there was NO F*%^ING WAY we were losing this game, not when a Big Ten title was on the line.
2007: Indiana breaks a 14-year bowl drought with a 27-24 win over Purdue in Bloomington. This marked only the second time both teams went to a bowl game in the same year. Indiana finished 7-6 after losing to Oklahoma State 49-33 in the Insight Bowl, while Purdue went 8-5 after beating Central Michigan 51-48 in a wild Motor City Bowl.
Sure, there have been other memorable games, but these were the only ones that stand out because of Big Ten implications or because both teams were good enough to go bowling. For a good portion of the 80’s Indiana was respectable enough to go to a bowl game and sometimes Purdue denied them. From 1997 on Purdue turned the tables and dominated the series. Purdue has gone 13-4 since Joe Tiller came to town and has scored at least 24 points in every game save the 2001 game played in an absolute monsoon. In all but one of the victories Purdue has cracked 30 points.
Saturday’s game in Bloomington will not be confused for the 1967 classic. Both teams are 3-8 and destined for the basement of their respective divisions in the Big Ten. All there is to play for is pride, and an old Bucket.
Who to Watch on Offense:
Tevin Coleman – Running Back – Coleman is doing his best Anthony Thompson impersonation, as he was recently named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back. On any other team he would be up for the Heisman. The junior is second in the nation with 1,906 rushing yards behind only Melvin Gordon. He also has 15 touchdowns. He plays a role in the passing game with 23 catches for 135 yards, but he can pretty much break any play if he touches the ball. Coleman will touch the ball. A lot. He has 241 carries and combined with the 23 receptions that averages out to 24 touches per game. There is a very strong chance he will go pro after this year and would you blame him for cashing in when a running back only has so many miles on his body?
Coleman is coming, kids. He IS the Indiana offense. Purdue absolutely should stack nine guys in the box and go after him on every single play because even then, it may not be enough. He is going to be the best player on the field Saturday by a very long distance. He has been held under 100 yards only once this season when he had 71 against Penn State. He even went over 300 against Rutgers. Coleman is going to get his yards. It is up to Purdue to make sure he doesn’t run completely wild and be the third straight back in consecutive weeks to break the FBS rushing mark. That is in play.
Shane Wynn – Wide Receiver –Wynn is the only returnee from last year’s excellent passing game and he is the top target by far at 50 catches for 661 yards and 3 touchdowns. If Purdue has nine guys going after Coleman the other two need to cover Wynn because if Indiana is throwing, they are throwing to Wynn. Only Coleman, Nick Stoner (18-135-0) and J-Shun Harris II (16-152-2) have more than 10 catches other than Wynn.
D`Angelo Roberts – Running Back – When Coleman needs a break Roberts is still pretty good. He has 479 yards rushing and six scores, but is questionable with a concussion.
Zander Diamont – Quarterback – Indiana had one of the best offenses in the country last season and with an improved defense this year they likely would have been a bowl team if not for a rash of problems at quarterback. Diamont was 5th on the depth chart in the spring, but two injuries and two transfers have thrust him into the starting role as a true freshman. It has not gone well. In five starts he is 49 for 108 with 1 touchdown, four interceptions, and only 396 yards. He does have 99 yards rushing and is elusive on the ground, but his passing has been atrocious. It took him four games to throw for over 100 yards on the season.
Who to Watch on Defense:
Bobby Richardson – Defensive Tackle – Richardson has been an effective defensive tackle with 5.5 sacks to go with 35 tackles. He is part of a defensive unit that has improved from atrocious to merely bad. Indiana is still last in the conference in giving up 34.4 points per game, but the run defense has improved to ninth at 178.5 per game. It is hardly a brick wall, but it has shown great improvement over last season when toddlers could run for 250 yards against them.
Mark Murphy – Safety – Murphy is the best player in the worst secondary in the Big Ten. Indiana gives up 262 yards per game through the air and is the only team worse than Purdue’s 233.5. He has a pick six on the season and has 48 tackles.
Antonio Allen – Safety – Allen has 68 tackles to lead Indiana and even has a sack, but as we know, it is never good to have a safety lead your team in tackles. That just means he is stopping guys already 15 yards downfield.
Who to Watch on Special Teams:
Griffin Oakes – Kicker – Oakes has been solid at 10 of 14 on the season and has a cannon for a leg. He connected on a 58 yard field goal against Maryland. He has also generated 20 touchbacks.
Hey, both teams are pretty bad. We have two of the worst defenses in the conference here as Purdue is 13th in pass defense while Indiana is 14th. Indiana is 9th in run defense while Purdue is 11th. Purdue is 10th in total defense while Indiana is 13th. Indiana is 14th in scoring defense while Purdue is 12th. Purdue is awful on third downs at 46.7% while Indiana can actually get off the field on occasion at 36.5% (5th in the Big Ten).
Offensively, neither team is exactly blowing up scoreboards. Indiana averages 25.3 points per game and Purdue averages 24.5 (8th and 10th, respectively). Purdue averages 193.3 yards per game through the air (10th in the B1G) while Indiana is 12th at 143.5, but their average is skewed because they did get five full games from Nate Sudfeld before he was hurt. Indiana is second in the Big Ten in rushing behind Wisconsin because of Coleman, while Purdue is 9th.
Only the state of Indiana is going to care about this game. Purdue has had some moral victories and at least has a conference win at Illinois (where Penn State and Minnesota didn’t win, so there). Indiana has the Bucket and a win over the possible SEC champ. Yes, that’s right. Because Indiana beat SEC East leader Missouri (AT Missouri, no less) you have a scenario in play where the SEC champion in 2014 would have a loss to a team that goes winless in the Big Ten if we do our part. Like Virginia Tech winning at Ohio State, Indiana winning at Missouri is basically the anchor keeping them out of the playoff discussion. Even with those positives, these are two bad football teams that have gone a collective 1-13 against the rest of the Big Ten and both have lost to MAC teams.
Indiana has the edge because of Coleman though. He is going to be the best player on the field, and that is often enough for a team to win in a game where both teams are this bad.
Keys to the Game for Purdue:
· Tackle Coleman
· Tackle Coleman
· Tackle Coleman
· Tackle Coleman
· Tackle Coleman
· Cover Wynn