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Purdue Football Has Third Easiest 2016 Schedule in the Country per ESPN

Lord knows they will need it.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue's struggles under coach Darrell Hazell have come with plenty of excuses:

We're installing a completely new coaching system.

The schedule is really tough (2013).

Danny Etling is really young.

Austin Appleby is really young.

David Blough is really young.

Danny Anthrop got hurt.

John Shoop.

Well, according to ESPN's Football Power Index, the strength of schedule will not be one in 2016:

In 2013 the schedule was legitimately tough. Purdue played three teams that played in BCS bowls after the 2012 season (Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Wisconsin), hosted an undefeated juggernaut (Ohio State), went to a conference champion (Cincinnati), the eventual Rose Bowl champion (Michigan State), and played two other bowl teams (Iowa and Penn State). That's not going to be an excuse in 2016.

Purdue's non-conference includes a 6-5 FCS team in Eastern Kentucky that even Hazell should beat and two "Other Five" conference teams coming off of mediocre 7-6 seasons. Purdue then goes to Maryland, who might, might have been worse than Purdue last season. They follow that with a trip to Illinois, which is rarely intimidating. The other three Big Ten road games come at Nebraska (who Purdue actually beat last year), Minnesota, and Indiana, while Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern come to Purdue. Purdue dodges three huge bullets in avoiding Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan as the clear three best teams in the Big Ten.

It is year four for Hazell. He has all of his own players with only a handful of fifth year seniors around from the Hope era. He has a very favorable schedule.

There is really no excuse.