The units and opponents have been previewed, so it is time to just line up and actually play the games. The Boilers are picked to finish dead last in the Big Ten for a second year in a row, and it is no surprise why. Anything aside from a last place finish; in fact, even if Purdue wins a Big Ten game, would be seen as a triumph in the eyes of many.
But what if absolutely everything went right? What if the offensive line issues came together and Danny Etling took a big leap from his freshman to sophomore years? What if Ja'Whaun Bentley and Gelen Robinson become nasty freshmen linebackers that transform the defense? What if the blistering speed Purdue has at the skill positions and on special teams becomes a huge benefit?
That's what this entry is about. Despite last season's record, there is some promise in some young players. There is promise in a much easier schedule. There is promise that coach Hazell won 11 games in his second season at Kent State after just five the previous year. Here is how that promise can bear fruit.
This is NOT a prediction of how the season is going to go. This is merely how it could go if Purdue gets almost every break.
August 30 vs. Western Michigan - Purdue starts the season with a bang as Raheem Mostert returns the season's opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Broncos are incredibly young, and they are built mostly on the promise of a good (for the MAC) recruiting class that will play early. The Broncos were still 2-10 last season and may have been one of the few teams worse than Purdue. Their youth proves to be a detriment as Purdue rushes for 175 yards and Etling throws for 300. Purdue 45, Western Michigan 14
September 6 vs. Central Michigan - The Chippewas are the opposite of Western Michigan. They have a lot of experience and possibly one of the best receivers in the nation. Many feel this is a possible MAC-over-B1G upset because of that, but the Boilers surprise many by being firmly in control throughout. Etling throws touchdown passes to DeAngelo Yancey, Cameron Posey, and Danny Anthrop while Mostert gains some tough yards on the ground. It is tougher than Western Michigan, but Purdue pulls out a decent victory. Purdue 31, Central Michigan 21
September 13 vs. Notre Dame at Lucas Oil Stadium - In the last two seasons Purdue has plays the Fighting Irish surprisingly close. This time, with the knowledge that Notre Dame is off the schedule for six years, the Boilers play with a purpose. They don't run out of gas with a fourth quarter lead and the crippling defensive score that always haunts any game against Notre Dame does not happen. Purdue shocks many, including me, by winning and ending the series (temporarily) on a high note. Purdue 24, Notre Dame 21
September 20 vs. Southern Illinois - FCS teams are meant to be blown out. That's their only purpose for being on the schedule of a major conference team. Akeem Hunt and Mostert each have long touchdown runs and even Austin Appleby gets a full quarter of action as Purdue rolls from beginning to end. Purdue 56, Southern Illinois 10
September 27 vs. Iowa - Purdue enters B1G play as the surprise team of the non-conference season thanks to the upset over Notre Dame, while Iowa comes in also at 4-0, but against a tougher schedule. The Hawkeyes are possibly one of the contenders in the West Division thanks to a stout defense. It proves to be a little too much for the Boilers, but there is at least progress. Purdue keeps it a game for three quarters but a late TD makes it a double-digit Iowa win. Iowa 30, Purdue 17
October 4 at Illinois - The first true road game of the year comes at one of the least intimidating road venues in the conference. Even last year, it felt like Purdue should have beaten Illinois, but completely flamed out in the final three quarters after an explosive first quarter. The Fighting Illini continue to show little to no improvement, while Purdue has improved. The Boilers move to 5-1 and a bowl is actually capable. Purdue 35, Illinois 20
October 11 vs. Michigan State - The Spartans were kept mostly in check by Purdue last season, but that was before their offense really woke up. Honestly, even if things go well, this game could be ugly. It was pretty much a fluke that made last year's game close at 14-0, and Etling has his worst game o the year with three interceptions. Michigan State 31, Purdue 13
October 18 at Minnesota - I don't know what to think about this one. Minnesota had a good season last year based on a solid defense and a decent rushing attack, but they still didn't look that great in doing so. It feels like they could be a great mystery team in the West that could either contend or flame out against a late brutal schedule. What does that mean for Purdue? It means it is not impossible to win there. Paul Griggs connects on a late field goal to give the Boilers their first ever win at TCF Bank Stadium Purdue 24, Minnesota 23
November 1 at Nebraska - Though out of the conference title race, people are stunned that Purdue has already secure bowl eligibility by the time they go to Lincoln for the first time. Unfortunately, the old problem of stopping a great running back rears its head. Ameer Abdullah paces the Cornhuskers with three touchdowns as Nebraska wins comfortably. Nebraska 35, Purdue 14
November 8 vs. Wisconsin - I won't believe we can compete with Wisconsin until I actually see it. Until then the Badgers are going to run for 350 yards and thoroughly dominate us physically in every facet. It's that lopsided. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 7
November 22 vs. Northwestern - Purdue and Northwestern have not met since 2010, so they are very unfamiliar with each other. Back then, three of the current Big Ten members were in three different conferences. The loss of Venric Mark was a huge blow for the Wildcats, and I thought this was a winnable game before that. Purdue keeps the turnaround going with a nice home win. Purdue 34, Northwestern 28
November 29 at Indiana - Indiana still lacks a defense and its OMG totally awesome offense shows that the loss of Tre Roberson and a ton of quality receivers effects things. They still enter the game at 5-6 with hopes of a bowl game. Etling cruelly denies them by throwing for 500 yards and five touchdowns as their complete lack of a defense bites them, yet again. Purdue 63, Indiana 35