While the staff has been confident for most of the season, that is not the case this week. It must mean Wisconsin is coming to town. Here are the picks for tomorrow's game:
Wisconsin is really, really good. They defend both the pass and the run extremely well. Completely healthy, Purdue would still have to play mistake-free and way beyond their talent level to even keep the game respectable. However, the Boilers are missing way too many key players after last week's physical game against the Huskers. I think the Badgers completely dominate every aspect of the game and send the Boilers to their worst loss of the season. Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10
Rachel Van Gessel
Purdue's inability to finish games will continue Saturday. After playing Wisconsin tight through three Purdue will fall short in their upset bid. Purdue's receivers won't be able to make up for Danny Anthrop's lost production and will struggle to get open when it matters most. Melvin Gordon will run all over us like he has done in years past. Purdue 24 Wisconsin 35.
On Saturday Purdue returns to their wheelhouse and plays a game at noon. Doesn't it just feel more comfortable than a 3:30 game? It's like that sweatshirt you love. It just slips on and feels warm. Unfortunately for Purdue they will be playing Wisconsin which is a lot like their wool sweater your Aunt Cindy got you for Christmas, it's itchy and just feels terrible. It just seems like since that one game 10 years ago things just don't go well for Purdue when they play Wisconsin. A lot of that is due to the fact that Wisconsin plays a type of football that Purdue just simply isn't built to defend. Wisconsin runs a wrecking ball offense where they simply try to run over you each and every play. What they've recently added is an impressive array of quarterbacks starting with Russel Wilson who absolutely torched Purdue when he got a chance a couple years back. The lack of healthy linebackers and the lack of a stud along the defensive line bodes well for Purdue's rushing defense. I know we all said something similar last week with Nebraska but Purdue caught a break there when Abdullah got knocked out early. I wouldn't imagine Purdue could be so lucky twice.
Wisconsin sits at 6-2 (3-1) with their lone conference loss, inexplicably, to a Northwestern team that has struggled this year. Their main weapon, as always, is their running game. They currently rank third in the nation in rushing yards per game at a robust 333.4. Purdue has allowed teams to run over them nearly all year and I don't expect tomorrow to be any exception. At the beginning of the year I wrote a post over at Jumbo Heroes that gave the best case scenario for this Purdue team. This wasn't a pie in the sky Purdue is going to the playoff kind of assessment. This was an honest and sobering look at what I thought the limit of this Purdue team was. The very top and very best case for them was a 5-7 record in my estimation. Even in that best case scenario this Wisconsin game is one that was written off immediately. Purdue simply doesn't play well against Wisconsin and I would expect tomorrow will be yet another entry into that terrible 10 year saga.
(My record 6-3 misses CMU, Iowa, Minnesota)
Wisconsin is a terrible match up for the Boilermakers. They will attack the second level of the defense and exploit Purdue's inexperience at linebacker. One bad fill and Wisconsin can take it to the house. If Frankie is limited or unable to play, Purdue's problems get even worse. Now the good news. Sports gives you the opportunity for optimism. Should Purdue be picked to win...no. Would I pick Purdue to win if my life depended on it....no. However, since my life does not depend on it, I'm going with the Boilermaker upset. Purdue keeps the Badgers offense on the sidelines with a controlled run game complimented by short passes. The defense makes enough plays to force Wisconsin to work hard to score. Purdue wins on a field goal in the last minute of the game 31-28 and all Boilermaker fans rejoice.
Purdue will play hard, like always, but given that this already young team is thin with all the injuries, it will be yet another Badger domination.
Obligatory: <iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EIyixC9NsLI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Wisconsin 40, Purdue 10
As we enter this game I have a large feeling of regret. Yes, Purdue is still alive for a bowl game, but with one more victory we would have a much better chance because of the Northwestern and Indiana games to follow. Purdue can win both of those, and a 5-7 season is definitely a strong possibility. The regret comes from two games: Central Michigan and Minnesota. This team has grown so much since the CMU game that I can't see them losing that game if it were played again tomorrow. With Minnesota, we're a dumb penalty on a third and long away from winning.
Just give me one of those, and Purdue has a great chance at being an unexpected bowl team and the surprise of the Big Ten. A 5-7 record would still be exceeding most expectations, but 6-6, with a win like one over Wisconsin, would be really nice. Unfortunately, to get there we're going to have to beat the one team we have struggled the most against in Big Ten play.
Maybe it is a good thing. Nothing would mark a turnaround more than reversing our misfortune against the Badgers. I am a realist though. This is a team that has not only beaten us, but has physically dominated every phase of the game against us for a long, long time. All the signs point toward that happening again unless we benefit from turnovers like Northwestern did. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 14