Sorry I haven't done much today, but I got the flu from my son and I am barely vertical. I can still get the staff picks oout, however:
I choose seppuku.
Well, this is it, one last chance for redemption, and I have a confession to make. The Bucket has been the center piece of the family Christmas dinner before, and not because the good guys won. My cousin posted a Christmas of The Bucket under her Christmas tree last year. As much as I love my Uncle and cousins, they've had The Bucket long enough. It's time for Purdue to finish strong and head into the offseason on a positive note. Purdue's run game will come through with a few big plays and one of the receivers will figure out how to beat single coverage (or maybe the defender slips, pulls a hammy...something) for at least one big play out of the passing game. The young Purdue defense comes through, with the linebackers shutting Coleman down all game long. Purdue wins the game 31-28 and my Uncle hands the Bucket over to the good guys.
In the land of the blind the one eyed man is King! We've all heard that expression countless times. That's really the best way to describe the upcoming game between our beloved Purdue Boilermakers and the hated Hoosiers of IU. Neither of these teams are fantastic. Neither of these teams are going to a bowl game. Even worse, the loser of this game lands in 14th place in the B1G. That's right the loser here ends up in dead last, 14th in the Big Ten. How mathematically screwy is that? For Purdue if they lose it would mark the second year in a row they've landed in last in the conference and my God that's depressing. There have been improvements by both teams this year and also regressions on each side. We all know what Purdue's been through so let's take a brief look at IU.
IU makes no bones about who they are, they are an offensive minded team. They know their defense is terrible and can't stop anyone so their plan is basically to score 45-50 points and hope that's enough. Unfortunately this season it hasn't worked out for them. The defense is still terrible, ranked 108th compared to Purdue's 102nd in scoring defense, but the offense hasn't done their job as well as in year's past and that's for one main reason. The quarterback. IU thought they had the QB problem solved at the end of last season with Nate Sudfeld winning the job and in the offseason Tre Roberson transferred to play elsewhere knowing he wasn't going to get another opportunity. That didn't turn out to be the case as Sudfeld was injured midway through the season and it led to Zander Diamont, excellent Bond villain name by the way, taking over to lead the Hoosiers offense. By lead I basically mean fall all over himself and look terrible. Now, to put in context just how terrible it is let's take a look at some of his numbers. In the five games in which he's played his stats are 49/108 for 396 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. None of those numbers are typos. I triple checked them. In fives games he has one touchdown pass. In five games he's got just 396 yards, or quick math 79 yards a game. In five games he's only completed 49 passes, or more quick math under 10 completions a game. His completion percentage is 45%! Basically the guy just isn't in any way ready to be a B1G QB. Against Michigan he was 5-8 for 24 yards. Ouch.
Of course all that's well and good but IU's offense doesn't go through their QB it goes through the running back Tevin Coleman and he is a monster. There's been just one game this year where he was held to under 100 yards and that was the game against Penn State. The guy ran for 228 against a pretty stout Ohio State defense last week so we know he can run on anyone. Purdue is going to have their hands full. On the plus side, you'd think, from a defensive coordinator standpoint if you know the passing game isn't a threat, and it really isn't, you should be able to tee off on Coleman. I think it's a testament to how good he is though that teams haven't been able to do that since Sudfeld went out. He's going to be a handful and IU running the ball and Purdue stopping or at least slowing the run is the key to the game.
Tomorrow also gives IU a chance to do something they haven't done since in 20 years and that's win back to back Bucket games. This is unacceptable. I am all for giving Hazell time and cutting him slack and allowing him to find the right players and the right system. I get that it's a difficult process. I can't imagine running a team like he does with all the nuances and complications to go along with sucking up to 16-18 year old kids to try to get them to come to your program. He's got a lot going on is what I'm trying to say. All that in mind he cannot lose this game if he hopes to keep the majority of the fan base on his side. Losing to IU can easily get a coach fired. I understand that IU has been rising for a few years and hell they even beat a ranked Missouri team on the road this year. I get all of that but it doesn't matter. This is the Bucket and I want it back. I can't fathom picking IU here so even though I think it will be a tough game I've got to pick with my heart.
Purdue 41IU 38
We have had an up and down season. Things were way down after Central Michigan, way up after beating Illinois and nearly winning at Minnesota, now way down again. Both of these teams are garbage this year and going nowhere, but someone will have the Bucket at least. The Hoosiers had much higher expectations while Purdue is at least better than last year, but it still feels like a disappointing season after the positives we saw earlier.
If we lose to Indiana it feels like a big step back. It has been 20 years since Indiana successfully retained the Bucket. The last time IU won consecutive Bucket games was before I was even in high school and only rich people had cell phones! We've been bad, but we have always been able to rely on Indiana being worse.
Right now they are not worse. Neither offense is playing well, but they have Tevin Coleman. He is so good that even good defenses haven't been able to stop him. Against Purdue, who has been gashed by every good running back in the nation, he could have a field day. What makes it worse is the fact that HE IS THEIR ENTIRE OFFENSE RIGHT NOW! We know he is getting the ball 25-30 times and I have zero confidence we can stop him even if we send all 11 players on defense at him at the snap.
In games like this the team with the best player often wins. Tevin Coleman is the best player. Indiana 24, Purdue 17