It is not often that you see a game of this magnitude of suck. Just three seasons ago these two teams met in Detroit for a bowl game, which Purdue won 37-32. Taylor Richards, Raheem Mostert, Landon Feichter, Jalani Phillips, and Ryan Russell all played significant minutes in that game, but both teams have fallen quite a bit since then.
Last season, Purdue's only victory was over a 1-11 Indiana State team, who pounded a Division II school for their only victory. Western Michigan's lone victory came by a point over Massachusetts, who was also 1-11 with their lone victory coming over 0-12 Miami (OH). So, yes, both teams could only beat a very bad team that could only beat a somehow even worse team. If Miami (OH) plays Quincy (the team the mighty Trees beat) that might be the worst college football game of all time.
At least one of these teams is going to be 1-0 around 4pm Saturday afternoon. Sure, it might take seven eye-bleeding overtimes to get to that point, but a new season means new hope. We know Purdue hasn't lost 11 games in a row in over 100 years, and Western Michigan I bringing in a ton of freshmen that will grow all year long. As a Purdue fan I am starving for any kind of a victory, especially after basketball season ended. I just want to see us finish a game with more points than another team.
Who to watch on offense:
Zach Terrell - Quarterback - He doesn't have the expectations of Danny Etling, but Terrill is also a sophomore that was thrown into the fire as a redshirt freshman last year. He came on after the Tyler Van Tubbergen had a shoulder injury and ended up throwing for 1,602 yards and 8 TDs against 8 INTs. He is also rushed for 118 yards on 25 carries. He beat out a pair of freshmen for the job.
Corey Davis - Wide Receiver - Davis had 67 catches for 941 yards and 6 TDs last season, also as a true freshman. The 6'2" 205 pound receiver is easily the top target on the roster and had five 100-yard receiving games in 2013.
Dareyon Chance - Running Back - Chance is ridiculously small at 5'5" and is a fifth year senior that had 692 yards and three touchdowns in 2013. There wasn't much of a running game, but it was still better than what Purdue had.
Willie Beavers, James Kristof, and Jon Hoffing - Offensive Line - All three guys each have 14 career starts. Every offensive lineman on Purdue's roster, minus Robert Kugler, doesn't have 14 starts combined.
Kendrick Roberts - Wide Receiver - Another big receiver at 6'3", he had a good year of 23-354-1 last season.
Who to watch on defense:
Justin Currie - Free Safety - Currie was a sure-handed tackler with 86.5 tackles and three interceptions. As a senior, he has a load of experience on a defense that is going to be playing a lot of freshmen. He even got into the backfield for a sack once, so he plays all over.
Donald Celiscar - Cornerback - Another top tackler with 47 stops, he also had three interceptions and he is a senior as well. There is not a ton up front with three new linebackers and not much of a defensive line, but Celiscar and Currie are part of a legitimately decent secondary.
Ronald Zamort - Cornerback - Zamort, a junior, had 44.5 tackles and an astounding 18 pass break ups in 2013. He broke up more than Paris Hilton and her flavor of the month in her prime.
Jarrell McKinney - Defensive End - He is just about the only player with any experience returning in the front seven, and he did not have a single sack in 2013.
Who to watch on special teams:
Andrew Haldeman - Kicker - Since we don't even know who is kicking for us, the Broncos have a pretty big advantage. Haldeman was 20 of 20 on PATs and 16 of 20 on FGs, so hopefully it does not come down to a kick at the end.
Kick coverage - From the big SB Nation preview:
One has to figure the return game could get a boost with the infusion of so many exciting freshman running backs and receivers, but the return game wasn't really the problem ... at least it wasn't the biggest problem. No, that would be kick coverage, which was a horror show. WMU ranked 121st in kickoff efficiency and 122nd in punt efficiency. The Broncos were destined to be a bad field position team simply because of the quality of the offense and defense. Special teams made them even worse.
With Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert back fielding kicks? Yes please!
What to see overall:
Both of these teams were basically awful last year. Since the MAC is far worse than the Big Ten top-to-bottom, you could argue that WMU was worse, but they also had some pretty bad teams in their conference in Miami and UMass. Purdue was the worst in the Big Ten by a lot from everybody except Illinois.
There were a few common opponents between the teams last year. WMU lost to Michigan State 26-13 (Purdue lost 14-0), Iowa 59-3 (Purdue lost 38-14) and Northern Illinois 33-14 (Purdue lost 55-24). WMU also lost to Big Ten foe Northwestern 38-17, coach Hazell's old team, Kent State, 32-14, and week 2 opponent Central Michigan 27-22.
The Broncos were at least close in a few games. Aside from the win over Indiana State, Purdue was only close against Notre Dame and Illinois. WMU lost to FCS Nicholls State by four, Eastern Michigan by three, and Central Michigan by five. Their offense was better overall, but not by much.
Both teams are rebuilding and will rely on young talent. WMU probably will play more freshmen than Purdue, but there are a lot of sophomore Boilermakers that will be starting on Saturday. It could end up being an exciting game just to see who emerges as a young leader on either team.
Purdue Keys To The Game:
- Generate some sort of pass rush with the front seven
- Get third down stops against a decent passing offense
- Don't let an unknown running back go crazy
- Protect Danny Etling and give him time to throw
- Generate something, anything in the running game
Coming in Friday's B1G preview.