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Purdue at Indiana Preview

Indiana tries to match a streak it made 69 years ago.

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Indiana has won three straight Old Oaken Bucket games.

That phrase alone should be enough to show just how much of a failure Darrell Hazell was. Purdue does not have a consistently great football history. Sure, it has had some nice runs in the late 60s, late 70s, and from 1997-2004, but for the most part Purdue has been mediocre to bad for much of its existence. We have always been able to rely on beating Indiana, however, because the Hoosiers have almost always been worse.

It shows in the overall record between the schools, too. Purdue still owns a 72-40-6 advantage and can lose every game with Indiana for three decades before the Hoosiers even come close to evening up the series. The three in a row stings. It is the longest stretch of Indiana success over Purdue since the Truman administration. Indiana won four in a row from 1944-47 as their longest streak ever in the series. That was part of a larger run where they won 7 of 8, broken only by a 7-0 Purdue win in 1943 (Purdue’s last undefeated season). The Boilers followed that with their longest run of dominance: 10 straight wins, a tie in 1958, followed by three more wins, a loss, and four more wins. That’s a 17-1-1 run over the following 19 seasons to 1967 win Indiana won to make their only Rose Bowl.

Even during the Bill Mallory era, the longest run of sustained success for Indiana probably ever, the Hoosiers never won more than two in a row against Purdue. Think about that for a moment. Fred Akers won a 1989 Bucket game to deny Indiana a bowl game 15-14, their only win in a five period. Jim Colletto won a 13-10 game in 1992, again denying the Hoosiers a bowl. From 1987-96 Indiana was mostly a good team and won 7 of 10 Bucket games, but Purdue managed to spoil a few runs and make sure they never won more than two in a row.

The Boilers followed that with a nice run of dominance, going 9-1 against the Hoosiers from 1997-2006, but the series is 5-4 in favor of Indiana since then. At Purdue, we have always been able to say “at least we aren’t Indiana.” Hazell changed all that.

Which brings us to Saturday. The Hoosiers are 5-6 and need a win to reach a bowl game. They are 20 point favorites, and rightfully so. They have scored 56 and 54 points against Purdue in two of these three wins and this year they have an offense that should shred our paper thin defense with ease. Purdue has a lame duck coaching staff and nothing to play for. Indiana, if it makes a second straight bowl game, at least gets the momentum of sustained mediocrity.

After everything Purdue has gone through this year all we can do is ruin Indiana’s season.

2015 Record: 5-7, 2-6 Big Ten

Bowl result: Lost to Duke 44-41 (OT) in Pinstripe Bowl (The kick was not good)

Blog Representation: Crimson Quarry

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 72-40-6

Last Purdue win: 11/24/2013 at Purdue 56-35

Last Indiana win: 11/28/2015 at Purdue 54-36

Indiana Thus Far:

Indiana continues to live up to its CHAOSTEAM mantra. The Hoosiers have benefited from beating the bottom three teams in the East in Michigan State, Maryland, and Rutgers, but couldn’t get over the hump in close games with Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. At the time, the Michigan State win in overtime looked like a program-changer, but that was before we knew Michigan State sucked this year.

While Indiana has played the best teams on its schedule strong, it has struggled against some of the worst. There is, of course, Michigan State, who took them to overtime. Wake Forest is currently 6-5, so the Demon Deacons won the toss-up game in Bloomington. Then there was Rutgers. Not only is Indiana the only Big Ten East team Rutgers has even scored on, Rutgers led at halftime and for a good portion of the third quarter.

What benefits Purdue is that the Hoosiers tend to play to their competition. They have had second half leads against Michigan and Penn State, but have trailed in the second half against Rutgers and Florida International. A large reason for their struggles comes from ball security. They have had nearly as many turnover issues as Purdue has had. Purdue is a whopping -18 in turnover margin, which is comfortably the worst in the Big Ten. Indiana is next worst at -6. they have turned the ball over 22 times, with many coming in recent weeks in key situations. We will need that on Saturday.

Who to Watch on Offense

Devine Redding – RB – Redding torched Purdue last year. He had his best game of the 2015 regular season with 144 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Between him and Nate Sudfeld Purdue had no prayer of getting a stop last season. This year he has 951 yards and five TDs, so he will very likely go over 1,000 yards on Saturday.

Richard Lagow – QB – The junior college transfer has been all over the map for the Hoosiers. He trails only David Blough in the Big Ten with 3,057 yards, but like Blough, he can get a little interception happy. He has 13 picks to Blough’s 19. Look for him to have a few series where he gives way to bond villain Zander Diamont. Diamont is only 8 of 11 passing on the year for 156 yards, but he will come in and cause havoc on the ground as he has 199 yards rushing and 3 TDs. Lagow is… not a runner with -135 yards rushing total.

Nick Westbrook – WR – When Simmie Cobbs was lost for the season it looked like a major blow for the Indiana offense. Westbrook and ricky Jones have stepped up, however. Westbrook has a very nice 48-871-5 season going while Jones has a 47-753-3. Mitchell Paige gives them three very dangerous receivers with a 53-577-2 line.

Coy Cronk – OT – I am only mentioning Cronk because he is a true freshman offensive tackle that is starting for the Hoosiers and he went to Lafayette Central Catholic High School. He is STARTING as a true freshman. Purdue desperately needed a tackle in this recruiting cycle. He was in our own back yard. Darrell Hazell never even offered him a scholarship. He could have walked over to LCC if he felt like it and offered a scholarship. He didn’t.

Darrell Hazell, everyone.

Dan Feeney – OG – Feeney is one of the best guards in the Big Ten if not the country. He was a First Team All-American last season according to ESPN and CBS.

Who to Watch on Defense

Tegray Scales – LB – Indiana has actually had a defense this year, which is a rarity in Bloomington. Scales is a big part of that, as the junior is having a monster season. He leads the team with 78 tackles, 4 sacks, and even returned an interception for a touchdown at Florida International.

Marcus Oliver – LB – Oliver has also been very active defensively with 57 tackles (11.5 for loss) and three sacks. Both he and Scales can get into the backfield and cause a lot of problems, which should be a major concern for a Purdue running game that is already struggling. Indiana’s pass defense is 12th in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers are ninth in the conference against the run. That is a drastic improvement for them, but it is the worst run defense Purdue has faced since Illinois. Hopefully we can run like we did at Illinois, because we will need to.

Rashard Fant – DB – Fant is really good at his job. He has broken up 16 passes, intercepted two (returning one for a score) and has been a nightmare in pass coverage in general. Only he and Tony Fields have multiple interceptions, as Indiana has just 10 as a team. Given Purdue’s running game struggles, it is going to have to avoid interceptions (something we do not do very well).

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Griffin Oakes – K – Normally solid, Oakes has struggled this year, hitting only 13 of 22 field goal attempts. He does have a long of 54 yards, however.

Mitchell Paige – PR – Paige has not returned a punt for a score this year, but he is still dangerous. Last year he had a pair of punt returns for a score.

Game Outlook

Purdue’s best hope is that the Indiana team that struggled so much against Rutgers shows up. The Hoosiers are not the same awful team we all knew and loved, but they also aren’t some world beater. They make mistakes probably more than any other team in the Big Ten not named Purdue. What will be absolutely critical is taking advantage of said mistakes while limiting our own. Purdue has no shot if it loses the turnover battle.

In that Rutgers game the Hoosiers threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles, and missed three field goals. Rutgers still lost by 6. Purdue is bad. I mean we are really bad, but we’re not Rutgers (please God I hope we’re not worse than Rutgers). This being a rivalry game and Indiana having a proclivity for letting bad teams hang around, we have a shot.

Purdue has also at least been competitive under Gerad Parker for 20-30 minutes each week. Even against Wisconsin it was a relatively even game aside from an 8 minute stretch where we gave up 35 points (other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?). As we have seen the last few weeks, Purdue needs to find a way to sustain that first half surge and hang in when depth becomes a major issue in the second half. The best it has done is at Minnesota, where Purdue had the ball down by 6 with a chance to win inside the last five minutes. If Purdue can get to a similar point where it at least has a chance to win late it is probably the best we can ask for.