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Purdue vs. Western Michigan: H&R Staff Picks

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The staff of Hammer & Rails has a unanimous pick of Purdue over Western Michigan.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In less than 24 hours, the season kicks off. That makes for an exciting time because a win of any kind has been a long-time coming. It's been almost two years since we won a Big Ten game and since starting the 2012 season 3-1 Purdue is a dismal 4-17 in the last 21 games. That's why a win over even Western Michigan would be nice. We can't beat anyone right now.

Once again, we'll be doing Friday staff picks around here where the various excellent contributors here at the site will weigh in on that week's game. This week they also have an assessment on the season:

Jackson Brunner

I think we have a 5-7 record that shows some progress. It begins with a win over the Broncos Purdue 35, Western Michigan 21

Juan Crespo

Prediction for the year:

Honestly, there's no excuse for this team to win less than 3 games. Purdue HAS TO BEAT Western and Central Michigan along with Southern Illinois. If the ball bounces the right way, I think Purdue can pick up three more wins against Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana. But realistically, I only see Purdue picking up one of those wins. Which one? Probably NW if they have another late season collapse, but we all know why they are called the Cardiac Cats...As for the losses, Purdue needs to be more competitive, no more blowouts before halftime, or the 1st quarter in the case of the Ohio State game...If a couple of Purdue's losses last year were merely losing the game in the 4th quarter, like Notre Dame, I'd be okay with that, as the young team simply didn't have the stamina to keep up with their tough competition. But we all know that didn't happen.

For all of Purdue's home Big Ten teams, I expect Purdue to at least be within a score, if not have the lead. Hell, even the 2010 team had the lead at halftime against Wisconsin. As for the B1G road games, with the exception of Illinois and IU, I don't think it will be pretty.

2014 Prediction: 4-8.

Western Michigan Prediction:

Purdue is 28-8-1 in home openers since 1977, and 16-1 since Joe Tiller started coaching at Purdue (the one loss was against Bowling Green in 2003). Really, there should be no excuse to lose this one. Purdue needs to win this game by at least 2 touchdowns. I can see some jitters in the 1st quarter, maybe in the 2nd quarter as well, but this team needs to come running out of the gate if they want to shake off any doubt from last season. Ultimately, Hazell will need a halftime pep talk to get this team fired up. Purdue puts on a big show in the 3rd quarter, and seals the deal in the 4th. Purdue beats it's first 1-A/FBS/Whatever our section of Division 1 football is called now, since the IU game of 2012.

Purdue 35, Western Michigan 14.

Andrew Zimmerman

I'll start out by saying that I'll be satisfied with 4 wins in 2014.  Maybe that sounds pessimistic, but 4-8 is a hell of a lot better than 1-11.  I hate to be cliché, but Purdue's overall success this season won't necessarily show up in the win column.  The only good thing to come out of last season was that it was so incredibly awful, it will make any improvements at all this year extremely easy to see. We couldn't get after the opposing quarterback at all, and we couldn't protect ours.  We couldn't run the ball, and we couldn't stop the run.  All of those things have to change, and it all starts with the line play.  If Purdue can show drastic improvement at the line on both sides of the ball, then a lot of other things will fall into place as a result.  The bottom line is that the offense absolutely has to put more points on the board, and the defense has to step up and perform at a much higher level.  Last season was abysmal for both, and I really can't sit through another season with the rest of the conference laughing at us.

I think it's reasonable to predict wins against Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Southern Illinois, putting Purdue at 3-1 going into conference play.  As far as B1G competition, I think the Boilers are good for 1 or 2 wins against Illinois/Northwestern/Indiana.  If they can win 2 of those 3, and end up with a 5 win season, that would far exceed expectations, but I'm still sticking with my 4 win prediction.

2.  Purdue needs a definitive win.  Badly.  I think they'll come out strong against the Broncos, especially on the ground, and really pull away in the 2nd half.  Purdue 30, Western Michigan 10.

Thomas Chapman

1. There's nowhere else to go but up. After a disastrous 2013 season that saw the Boilers win only one game, at least that's what I keep telling myself. We might even see a 400% increase in wins this year! Coming out of the nonconference schedule with three wins should be expected, but after that it's anyone's guess. Expect the team to struggle once they hit the meat of their schedule, but don't be surprised to see the team eek out a win against one of the conference's other bottom feeders. This year is all about marked improvement. Final: 4-8

2. While many of Purdue's Big 5 brethren can treat their week 1 match ups as a warm up, when you're coming off a 1-11 season you don't have that luxury. Although Purdue opens up as 12.5 point favorites, expect the offense to struggle throughout the first half before pulling away for a "too close for comfort" victory in the 2nd half. From a personal standpoint, I hope Hazell uses the first game to establish a strong running game that the team lacked last year. Purdue 28, Western Michigan 17

Drew Schneider

Season Prediction:

Purdue will be better than last year. My dad just wants to be able to wear his Purdue gear to work during football season without getting sympathetic pats on the back. I predict that is somewhat possible. Floor - 3 wins - Ceiling - 7 wins...prediction 5 wins. Purdue pulls it's self from under the basement and firmly into the basement.

Western Michigan prediction:

This is what college football is all about. Two storied programs opening the college football season in front of 80 thousand plus screaming fans. The long offseason wait is over, and now it is time to see if Purdue can live up to the hype. Danny Etling looks to kick off his Heisman campaign against a stout Western Michigan defense. Both of these teams could factor into the inaugural college football play off, but Purdue simply has too much fire power, and the no one comes into Ross-Ade stadium at noon and leaves with a win. Prediction: Purdue 28, Western Michigan 14

Rachel Van Gessel

I'm not expecting much from this years team. We're still undersized and not nearly as talented as the teams in the top half of the B1G so its unlikely we'll beat any decent team. Lucky for us, we play some sub par teams this year. A 2-2 non-conference is not out of reach for this team. As far as conference play goes one win might be all we get. Illinois or Northwestern would be our best bet. IU is no longer a pushover and playing them in Bloomington again pretty much ensures that the Bucket will remain imprisoned.

After this Saturday we will be flying the W flag over Ross Ade. Our offense will take a series or two to get warmed up but when we do we should be flying high. Unlike last season they won't be digging themselves out of a hole either. Our defense will keep the Broncos off the board through the first quarter. Danny will toss two TD's and Raheem will break loose for a long score. On the other side of the ball we will force 2 turnovers. Purdue 31 Western Michigan 17.

T-Mill:

The hardest part about any improvement this year is that the Big Ten is just really, really good. Even Rutgers already got a nice road win last night, and they are the consensus last-place pick in the East. I do have some faith in this team though. I really feel that the offensive line can come together and at least form somewhat of an offense. I also think that the schedule is much, much easier this year than last.

Call me crazy, but I think this can be a bowl team. For that, the Three Directionals are must-win games. The same is true for Illinois, whom we should have beaten last year. If Purdue can get those four (not beyond the realm of possibility), they only need to find two more wins somewhere else. Beating Northwestern at home is not impossible. Minnesota showed last night they are all run game/no pass game. Indiana still lacks a defense and the offense may take a step back. Even last year Purdue played Notre Dame tough. I think Purdue finds a way to get two of those and finish 6-6.

As for Western Michigan, Purdue has the second longest losing streak in the country at the FBS level. Miami (OH) hosts Marshall on Saturday having lost 16 in a row. Purdue and California have each lost 10 in a row and struggled mightily under first-year head coaches last season. We'll see Cal a little later in this preview, as they are traveling to Northwestern, but Purdue opens against possibly its weakest opponent of the season.

Honestly, if we can't beat Western Michigan we're going to be in for a very long year. They are a bad team in the midst of a complete rebuild with a ton of first year players. They are nowhere close to the rest of the Big Ten. We have to see marked improvement against a team that even last year's team would have been able to beat. If Purdue struggles, or even loses, It is a very bad sign for the rest of the season.

I don't think there will be struggles. I think the ground game has a big day and we see marked improvement from a defense that has some nice pieces in it. Purdue 30, Western Michigan 14