I am calling it now: Purdue will lose to Maryland on October 1.
The main reason is that I will be there. I have been on a years long quest, starting in 2001 at Indiana, to see Purdue play in every Big Ten Stadium. It has allowed me to criss-cross the Midwest and see many campuses. It also means I have seen many, many losses. Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern are the only Big Ten venues I have visited twice, but here is the record of Purdue at a Big Ten venue for my first game there:
11/24/2001 at Indiana L 13-7
10/12/2002 at Illinois L 38-31 (OT)
11/15/2003 at Ohio State L 16-13 (OT)
9/24/2005 at Minnesota L 42-35 (2OT) (Metrodome)
10/14/2006 at Northwestern W 31-10
10/13/2007 at Michigan L 48-21
11/8/2008 at Michigan State L 21-7
10/31/2009 at Wisconsin L 37-0
10/15/2011 at Penn State L 23-18
10/27/2012 at Minnesota L 44-28 (TCF Bank Stadium)
Yeah. Purdue is 1-9 the first time I see them at a B1G venue. When you add in that I have seen Purdue at Cincinnati (2001), Hawaii (2006), and Notre Dame (2010) it is not much better.
Regardless, this will be my road trip, mostly because, with Maryland being in the East and Purdue in the West, I don't know when I will get another chance. I evne already got tickets on the 50 yard line behind Purdue's bench about 10 rows up for $15 each (for their Homecoming!). By the time Purdue goes to College Park again it might be 2025 when they are part of the Big 28 Northeast Central Division and Purdue is in the Big 28 Mid-Central West Division. We're also making it the H&R East Summit, as Jumboheroes will be there with us.
Maybe things will be better next year when I have the same plan to go to Rutgers with J Money from Boiled Sports.
2015 Record: 3-9, 1-7 Big Ten
Bowl result: None
Blog Representation: Testudo Times
Series with Purdue: Maryland leads 1-0
Last Purdue win: None
Last Maryland win: 12/29/2006 24-7 (Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, FL)
Head Coach: D.J Durkin (1st Year at Maryland, 1-0 career record as Florida's interim coach in 2014)
Last Season for the Terrapins:
Last season the Terps were basically Purdue East, and it cost Randy Edsall his job. They started with a predictable win over FCS Richmond, but then got blown out at home by Bowling Green (who would later also win at Purdue). They recovered for a nice win over South Florida, but went 0-fer in Big Ten play before beating Rutgers 46-41 in the season finale.
Maryland also had a lousy offense. They were shutout by Michigan and managed just 13 total points against West Virginia and Michigan State. The defense did them no favors, either. The Terps gave up at least 30 points in all but two conference games, and both West Virginia and Bowling Green topped 40 points.
Maryland went out and hired Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and so far it is paying off at least in recruiting. Durkin, backed by the Under Armor money pumped into the school, has already gathered the No. 28 national recruiting class for 2017. He was able to close the 2016 class as the No. 40 national class with four 4-star local commitments (three of which were HS teammates at DeMatha with our own Ja'Whaun Bentley).
Both teams were pretty lousy in 2015. Maryland's superior recruiting gives them a better shot at immediate improvement in 2016.
If you thought Purdue was inconsistent at quarterback you should see Maryland. The Boilers at least went between David Blough and Austin Appleby. Maryland had four different players play at quarterback, and only one threw for more than 1,000 yards on the season. Perry Hills started eight of their 12 games and threw for 1,001 yards and 8 TDs against 13 interceptions with only a 50% completion rate. Caleb Rowe had four starters and threw for 894 yards and 6 TDs against 15 interceptions. The 28 interceptions between the two is, well, a lot. Both players are 5th year seniors and are expected to battle for the starting job. Maryland did add Cathedral's Max Bortenschlager as a freshman entering the program, but the situation looks dicey at best.
The ground game does not look much better. Brandon Ross is gone after rushing for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. Wes Brown is expected to start after rushing for 331 yards and three scores. Hills was effective on the ground with 535 yards and 3 scores, but freshmen Lorenzo Harrison and Laderrien Wilson could see a lot of time.
With the questions at quarterback it is not a surprise that the receivers also struggled. Levern Jacobs (35-425-3) and D.J. Moore (25-357-3) put up decent numbers, but they need someone to get them the ball more consistently. Tino Ellis was a 4-star recruit from DeMatha who should play immediately. The same with Darryl Turner.
The offensive line will need to be better after giving up 25 sacks and a whopping 84 tackles for loss in 2015. The addition of 4-star linemen Terrance Davis and Richard Merritt should help, as they were among the best high school linemen in the country. Left tackle Michael Dunn is also an experienced 5th year senior.
D.J. Durkin was an excellent defensive coordinator for Michigan, so the Terrapin defense should improve. Last season the Terps gave up 34.4 points per game, 162 yards on the ground, and 258 through the air. That is only slightly better than Purdue's run defense, which was putrid.
Middle linebacker Jermaine Carter remains in the middle after notching 103 tackles in 2015. 14 of those were for a loss. Jalen Brooks will help on the edge after getting 64 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
While Maryland quarterbacks threw a lot of interceptions, the secondary did not get many. Maryland only picked off nine passes as a team. Will Likely and Denzel Conyers give them a pair of seniors to build the secondary around, but they have to be better. Likely had a huge 2014, however, only to be mostly avoided by teams because of his speed and ability to turn an interception into six points. He returned two pics for scores in 2014.
Up front Maryland was very good at getting to the quarterback. Yannick Ngakoue had an impressive 13.5 sacks and turned that performance into a third round NFL draft pick for himself. Quinton Jefferson is also gone after having 6.5 sacks, leaving a huge hole in their pass rush. Roman Braglio and Azubuike Ukandu will attempt to fill that, but it will not be easy.
Maryland Special Teams
Whatever you do, do not kick to Will Likely. He may not put up impressive numbers as a corner (mostly because teams avoid him), but he is probably the best return man in the country. He averaged 17.7 yards per punt return while returning two for touchdowns. He also had a kickoff he returned for a touchdown and he even played a little offense with 5 receptions for 17 yards. He led Maryland with 1,307 all-purpose yards, mostly on returns. DO. NOT. KICK. TO. HIM.
Maryland must find a way to replace Brad Craddock, who won the Lou Groza Award in 2014 as the nation's best kicker. They also need a new punter, as the team struggled to find consistency in the punting game by averaging only 37 yards per kick.
As with many of these games in the first five to start the season, an improved Purdue finds a way to win this one. Maryland and Purdue were undoubtedly the two worst teams in the Big Ten last season. Now they get a chance to square off against each other in the Big Ten opener. Because of that, we might get a strangely entertaining game. It is a lot like the 2013 Purdue-Illinois game. Both teams were abjectly awful, but it was a fun game to watch because it was competitive and both teams were fighting hard for a rare win.
Like most people, my expectations are guarded there. We've been waiting for the Darrell Hazell breakout season and this is probably his last chance at one. It really is a matter of: "Is Purdue better?" If it is, Purdue finds a way to win this game and continues what could be a strong start against a weak slate of teams. If it is not, we're counting down the days until Hazell is fired.
Way Too Early Prediction: Maryland 17, Purdue 13. I don't trust Darrell. At all.