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Hammer & Rails 2015 Purdue Football Almanac

A couple writers at H&R publish their thoughts on the 2015 season.

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You all know we hate Indiana around here, but he guys over at Crimson quarry are alright. Some time last week they came up with an idea for a roundtable/almanac on the entire 2015 season. So, I asked the other writers to give their thoughts on the season just like CQ did. Here is what we came up with.

September 6 at Marshall

Purdue gets the hungover/drunk Labor Day weekend crowd that is starving for more football to get away from baseball all to itself. Normally I would have considered driving out for this game, but Purdue football has broken me. I am going to Wrigley Field instead, mostly because the Sunday game means I can run the bases with my son.

Best Case: Purdue's defense shows that it is surprisingly stout and Austin Appleby plays a very in control game as Purdue earns a surprisingly easy 38-28 game. Marshall's high octane offense slows without Rakeem Cato and Purdue actually looks like a Big Ten team.

Worst Case: Marshall needs a win over a Power 5 conference team in order to have something on its resume for a possible major bowl bid. They boatrace Purdue 56-21.

What we Say:

Andrew Holmes: I'm going to go with 27-24 Purdue. Which is optimistic, but I think we can win with a "bend, don't break" style on defense and hold them off.

Oh God No Scenario: Blowout, 42-14 Herd, we can't stop them at all.

Andrew Ledman: Marshall is forced to carry their QB from down to down but somehow the weak Purdue defensive line is unable to get to him. Chalk up a loss to start the season.

Real Prediction: Purdue squeaks out a win here but it's not pretty.

T-Mill: I don't think there is any middle ground here. If there is true improvement for the season we see Purdue win. If not, we're getting blown out. Since Purdue usually gets blown out when I see them on the road (except at Illinois) it could be a good sign that I am not going.

Juan: I really don't like opening the season on the road, as I think it hurts Purdue. I could see this being a back-and-forth battle/struggle for the first 3 quarters, but when the 4th quarter hits, Marshall should find its rhythm and pull out the win 24-14 (so the complete opposite of the 2012 game).

September 12 vs. Indiana State

The Trees made the FCS playoffs last year and even won a game! It shouldn't matter. This had damn well better be a blowout. That's what we're paying them for.

Best Case: If Appleby is the starter from day 1 we see the debut of David Blough by the third quarter as Purdue coasts to a comfortable win.

Worst Case: It is 2013 all over again, only we don't have Ricardo Allen around to save our sorry asses.

What we Say:

Andrew Holmes: We have to beat ISU, if the Sycamores beat us at home you can just pack up Hazell's office right then. I think we put in a good showing: 34-17 Purdue

OGN: 24-21 Trees win and Hazell sneaks out of town before they can fire him.

Andrew Ledman: Purdue continues their trend of losing to teams they should beat. Indiana State should never beat Purdue in anything unless Larry Bird is involved somehow. I don't see Larry Legend walking through that door to suit up at QB for the Sycamores yet somehow Purdue turns the ball over 4 time to lose.

Real - If Purdue wants to have any chance to go to a bowl game (HA) this is a must win.

T-Mill: There is never a valid excuse for a Big Ten team to ever lose to an FCS team. If the godawful team from two years ago can't do it this Purdue team won't. Purdue wins by at least two scores.

Juan: Part of me thinks that this will be similar to the 2013 match up: Purdue is coming off a loss on the road and opens its home schedule with a should be easy win with Indiana State. I think Purdue will pull away in the 4th quarter and wins 27-14; it won't be pretty, but it should be a little bit better than the 2013 game.

September 19 vs. Virginia Tech

Hide yo' wife and kids! It's a 3:30pm kickoff at Ross-Ade Stadium! Purdue gets national TV again on ESPN against the only team to beat Ohio State in the regular season in the last three years.

Best Case: The Virginia Tech offense makes our own look explosive. They have a solid defense, but they were still virtually shut out by Wake Forest last season. Purdue turns heads with a stunning 17-14 win on a Paul Griggs field goal.

Worst Case: The Hokies win in a shutout. Appleby throws four interceptions and is benched permanently for Blough.

What We Say:

Andrew Holmes: I see this as an easier game than Marshall actually, and we win because we score a touchdown in a game of field goals: 13-12

OGN: Fumbles, lots of fumbles lead to three touchdowns for VaTech and we go down hard.

Andrew Ledman: Remember this is the team that beat Ohio State last year. Yes, it's a different team. Yes, Ohio state then went on to win ALL OF THE GAMES after that. Purdue gets humiliated when Appleby gets hurt leading to the second and third string QBs playing. It doesn't go well.

T-Mill: I think the Hokies win, but we keep this close, a lot like Oregon in 2008. They win 21-17.

Juan: On paper, this seems like a game where Purdue shouldn't be competitive, regardless of how Virginia Tech did last year. Somehow, Purdue will probably keep the game close, and might even hold the lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. However, Virginia Tech will quickly erase doubts in the 4th quarter and leave West Lafayette with a 2 touchdown victory.

September 26 vs. Bowling Green

Purdue has been blown out home by MAC teams in consecutive seasons. This Bowling Green team might be better than both of them and is definitely better than Central Michigan was last season.

Best Case: Purdue does what Big Ten teams should do against the MAC: They win. The Falcons are too good to expect anything more than that.

Worst Case: Purdue has lost to MAC teams by 21 points or more for two straight seasons. This team is good enough to make it three.

What We Say:

Andrew Holmes: My picks may be getting a bit too optimistic. Anyway, the good guys lead the whole way and the defense stops the Falcons on their final drive to seal it: 27-21

OGN: Bowling Green has more fans show up than we do, and they get a show as the Falcons win by 14

Andrew Ledman: The MAC team that has been a thorn in Purdue's side since the Tiller era comes back to bite them once again. Bowling Green sneakily comes from behind to beat Purdue after recovering an onside kick.

Real - Bowling Green again stuns the Boilermakers who are looking forward to B1G season and aren't quite as disciplined as they would be.

T-Mill: Get ready for points. Their offense is excellent, but the defense is awful. Purdue wins in a 49-45 shootout because we hold them to a field goal on a drive.

Juan: Purdue seems to always be due for a yearly MACrifice (which was avoided in 2011 (since Rice isn't in the MAC) and 2012), and this game should follow suit. Bowling Green was voted to win their MAC division at MAC Media Days, which is a good sign that Purdue will probably look awful against them. However, I hope I'm wrong, and so it one of my friends:

October 3 at Michigan State

By all accounts Michigan State should have wiped the floor with us for two years running, yet Purdue has been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter both times. I can't explain it, either.

Best Case: Purdue once again puts a scare into the Spartans, this time on their home field, but Sparty pulls away late one more time thanks to Connor Cook.

Worst Case: Mark Dantonio realizes, "Wait a minute, this is Purdue we're playing!" MSU wins in a rout.

What We Say:

Andrew Holmes: We've kept it close with them for the last couple of years, but that ends this year and the Spartans destroy our non-conference momentum: 10-37

OGN: Some fluke injury happens, like Paul Griggs breaking his leg getting off the plane, plus we get shut out.

Andrew Ledman: Coach Dantonio continues to prove why he's one of the coaches with the biggest set of cajones in all of sports. With his team down by 7 points Dantonio goes for the two point conversion after tying the game and executes a perfect oopty oop for the victory.

Real - Michigan State has the athletic superiority and uses it to their advantage. Purdue loses.

T-Mill: I am optimistic and we play MSU well, but I am not delusional enough to think we win in East Lansing.

Juan: Given the last 2 years, I have a feeling MSU and Dantonio will not go easy on Purdue. Expect it to be like last season's game, minus the 2nd and 4th quarters.

October 10 vs. Minnesota

I hated last year's loss in Minneapolis. We let a very winnable game get away. It was a typical Purdue loss where the Boilers were the better team for 50-55 minutes only to blow it late. Worse yet, Minnesota is not that good! They have a decent defense, good running game, but no passing game.

Best Case: Purdue plays as well as last year and doesn't have Taylor Richards committing a dumb personal foul. The Boilers get their first Big Ten win at home since Indiana in 2012 (yes, it has been that long).

Worst Case: The defense looks completely surprised that Minnesota is running the ball. The Gophers walk.

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: This one is at home, and I think we keep it respectable, but a loss is a loss: 13-21

OGN: Torrential downpour, we lead into the 4th and then give up 21 points and blow it, crushing our souls.

Andrew Ledman: In a throwback to the high scoring battles these teams had under the dome in the early 2000s Minnesota wins by the score of 62-59.

T-Mill: We slow the run and make Minnesota pass. They can't do it. Purdue wins 28-17.

Juan: Purdue should have won this game last year, and had it been at Ross-Ade that would have been the case. I'm sticking to that argument and I think Purdue pulls off the upset and gets win #2 of the year. This is a small trap game for Minnesota as they prepare for Nebraska the following week and view Purdue as a weak 1-4 team.

October 17 at Wisconsin

Oh God.

Best Case: Purdue manages to be competitive for more than a half. Really, that's the best we can ask for.

Worst Case: Four words: Corey Clements Highlight Reel

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: A tale as old as time, Wisconsin runs the ball, we can't stop it: 14-42

OGN: 63-0 and they don't even attempt a pass.

Andrew Ledman: Let's not even pretend that Purdue has a shot in this one. It's Purdue football facing Wisconsin. Until otherwise alerted Purdue loses to Wisconsin in football. Always.

T-Mill: Stop. We're already dead.


October 31 vs. Nebraska

Nebraska on Halloween? There has to be a Children of the Corn reference going on somewhere. At least since the Huskers travel well we should see a near capacity crowd of 30,000 after Burke closes Morgantown and the North end zone.

Best Case: The Huskers struggle under Mike Reilly and Purdue pulls off a stunner at home. We all shout epithets about soybeans being superior to corn as the Red Nation leaves.

Worst Case: Nebraska wins easily in Lincoln-East.

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: Our fans actually outnumber Nebraska's and we score first before the superior team takes control. 20-34

OGN: Burke tries to introduce some stupid corn-based rivalry trophy and they literally laugh in his face before kickoff. Then, they beat us by 50.

Andrew Ledman: In a battle of states that love them some corn Nebraska comes out on top because they have an anthropomorphic corn mascot on hand. For real though. Wow.

T-Mill: Maybe it is old school name recognition, but I just can't imagine Purdue beating a team like Nebraska. Then again, Indiana has a winning record over them all-time. For Real! Look it up!

Juan: I think Purdue will look decent in this game, but Nebraska should be leading the whole time with a few Halloween scares from Purdue.

November 7 vs. Illinois

It is homecoming and we're playing a real, live Big Ten team we have beaten in my son's lifetime! You can't ask for a better scenario.

Best Case: Keyante Green, D.J. Knox, and Markell Jones all rush for 100 yards as Purdue easily wins against their lousy run defense.

Worst Case: I would say any loss to Illinois, as bad as they have been, is a worst case scenario.

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: We beat them last year in Champaign, and I think we can do it again, but this time it'll be closer: 27-24

OGN: We lose and the Triple XXX is so frustrated with Purdue football that they decide to name their next menu item after Dick Butkus.

Andrew Ledman: In a battle of the dim witted cousins of the B1G conference Purdue again finds a way to lose to possibly one of the worst, and possibly most abusive, coaches in conference history. On the plus side I'll blame all that hard training for the Illini victory.

Real - Purdue actually eeks out a win here.

T-Mill: You can pry The Cannon from our cold, dead hands!

Juan: It'll be another struggle fest between Purdue and Illinois. I wouldn't be surprised if it's another offensive showdown just like last season. Purdue should pull off the win for homecoming for their 3rd win of the season.

November 14 at Northwestern

You can't beat vacation spots like balmy Evanston in mid-November.

Best Case: Purdue earns a nice Big Ten road victory over a rather mediocre Northwestern team.

Worst Case: Northwestern wins with even more ease than in 2014:

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: Because this is Purdue, we have to have a game where we f it up and lose one we had in hand. The Wildcats score a touchdown and a two-point conversion after we fumble the ball away trying to run out the clock: 21-22

OGN: jNW beats us by 30

Andrew Ledman: Northwestern has gotten steadily worst since their peak roughly 3 years ago but still can pull out a solid game every now and again. Unluckily for Purdue this is one of them. Turns out kitty has claws. Close Purdue loss.

T-Mill: Like Holmes said above, we're due for a dick-trip game. This is probably it.

Juan: Northwestern wins, but in an ugly win. P00N isn't as cool as M00N though.

November 21 at Iowa

I was originally looking at going to this game, but I will possibly be in Miami for the weekend. Too bad, too. The Hawkeyes have the classic look of a late Tiller-era team.

Best Case: Ferentz gets another extension, but Purdue wins over OMHR with another late field goal.

Worst Case: Iowa really does have enough to get to nine wins and this is one of them.

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: Another close heart-breaker: 10-14

OGN: Nike is so embarrassed by our football season they make us remove all logos from our gear. Oh, and we lose again.

Andrew Ledman: OMHR rises up to keep Purdue winless on the season and force them to head into the IU game with a winless season on the line. While Iowa isn't impressive Purdue still struggles with a close loss.

T-Mill: Iowa is the vanilla icemilk of desserts. There is nothing exciting here. Purdue pulls out a late win.

Juan: Purdue somehow pulls out another win at Iowa City in the middle of a crappy season. Purdue boards their jet and leaves before Iowa City burns to the ground.

November 28 vs. Indiana

I feel as if I am at the bargaining stage with Purdue football. Just don't lose to Indiana. The Hoosiers haven't won three straight over Purdue since winning four in a row from 1944-47. That's 68 years. While it was nice that Purdue went 26-3-1 over the following 30 contests after 1947, I really don't want to lose three in a row to Indiana.

Best Case: The Bucket returns to its rightful place in West Lafayette. I am not picky how.

Worst Case: They party in Bloomington like Truman is in office, segregation is the law of the land, and there are only 48 states. Indiana not only retains the Bucket, they actually get a decent bowl game at 7-5.

What We Say

Andrew Holmes: We get our damn bucket back and go to a bowl game! 34-31

OGN: We still win somehow, because even in my worst nightmares we don't lose the bucket for a third time.

Andrew Ledman: In an epic slap fight that will go down in history as one of the worst games these eyes have ever seen IU runs away with a victory over the decimated Purdue team. Hazell becomes one of the only Purdue coaches in Purdue history to ever lose three straight to IU. Morgan Burke fires him in the locker room after the game.

Real - I can't imagine that Purdue would lose to IU three times in a row. Seriously though. Come on Purdue. Purdue wins.

T-Mill: The Bucket is coming home. Purdue wins 41-31.

Juan: Purdue should have won this game last year had they not checked out in the 4th quarter. I think Purdue wins this game if IU isn't sitting at 5 wins and pushing for a bowl game, but more importantly, the Bucket should be back in its rightful place in West Lafayette.

Season predictions:


Andrew Holmes: 6-6 and Quick Lane Bowl bound!

Andrew Ledman: 4-8

T-Mill: 7-5 and we avoid Detroit!

Juan: 5-7, maybe 4-8

Final Thoughts:

Andrew Holmes: The fans really need to see a good season out of this group. This isn't a team full of future NFL players (I can see Paul Griggs going to the draft after a big season kicking, that's about it), but there is some good talent and if we can play disciplined and passionate football maybe it'll shine through.

Andrew Ledman: I just want to see some improvement. I don't expect miracles but with two abysmal years under their belts this coaching staff needs something here. There was improvement from year one to year two, regardless of if you want to see it or not, but it wasn't nearly enough. To steal from Johnny Cash this Purdue team needs to build it one piece at a time.

T-Mill: We're going to know what we have early. Either we beat Marshall to make a statement or we're getting steamrolled.

Juan: I don't feel confident about this season, maybe because of the way 2014 ended. To be honest with you, I wouldn't be surprised if Purdue finishes the season 1-11, but I hope I'm wrong.