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Purdue at Rutgers Preview

Purdue heads to New Jersey for the first time.

Iowa v Rutgers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

If Purdue loses to Rutgers it is my fault, and I am sorry.

As I have said before, I want to see Purdue play in every Big Ten Stadium. That even meant going to Minnesota twice, since I saw them there in 2005 and they decided to build a new on campus facility, meaning I had to go back. The trips, for the most part, have not gone well. Purdue has won plenty of games at Indiana and Illinois when I have gone back for other visits, but they even lost the first time I saw them there. Here is what has happened each time I have seen Purdue at a Big Ten venue for the first time:

9/19/1987 – Purdue – T 22-22 (with Louisville)

11/24/2001 – Indiana – L 13-7

10/12/2002 – Illinois – L 38-31 (OT)

11/15/2003 – Ohio State – L 16-13 (OT)

9/24/2005 – Minnesota (Metrodome) – L 42-35 (2OT)

10/14/2006 – Northwestern – W 31-10

10/13/2007 – Michigan – L 48-21

11/8/2008 – Michigan State – L 21-7

10/31/2009 – Wisconsin – L 37-0

10/15/2011 – Penn State – L 23-18

10/27/2012 – Minnesota (TCF Bank Stadium) – L 44-28

10/1/2016 – Maryland – L 50-7

That’s a very poor 1-10-1 record. Things haven’t been much better when I have attended non-conference or bowl games either, as Purdue won at Cincinnati and the Pizza Bowl when I went, but lost at the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame, and Hawaii.

Hopefully that trend can change Saturday. I am going to Rutgers, mostly because I know I have won chance to do so until at least 2022. It will leave Iowa and Nebraska still to cross off with plans for Nebraska next year and maybe Iowa this year. Before the season started we all looked at Rutgers as a game Purdue needed to win, mostly because they were so horrid a year ago. Now? Well, they are playing better football, but so is Purdue. If we’re to reach a bowl game in 2017 this is a must-win game.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

2017 Record: 2-4, 1-2

2016 Record: 2-10, 0-9

Bowl Result: None

Blog Representation: On the Banks

Series with Purdue: First Meeting

Last Purdue win: None

Last Rutgers win: None

Head Coach: Chris Ash (4-14 in Second year at Rutgers)

It was a cause for celebration in Piscataway this week as Rutgers won a Big Ten game! Sure, it was only at Illinois and even Darrell Hazell could win there (the Hat was 2-0 in Champaign!), but a win is a win. It snapped a 16-game conference losing streak dating back to a wild 55-52 win at Indiana in 2015. The Scarlet Knight have won only five Big Ten games since joining the conference in 2014, and three were in that first season. They have beaten Indiana twice, Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan.

Since that first season the Scarlet Knights have only won a Hazell-esque 8 games in three years. Three of those victories were over FCS teams in Norfolk State, Howard, and Morgan State. The nadir was definitely last year when they were shut out four times in league play and managed only an additional 27 points against Iowa, Illinois, and Maryland combined. they haven’t won a Big Ten home game since beating Indiana on 11/15/2014.

This year Rutgers is at least scoring points (except against Ohio State). The results haven’t been much better. They became the first Power 5 team to ever lose to Eastern Michigan 16-13. This came after a better-than-expected performance against Washington. The offense still struggles mightily, especially through the air. They rate 121st nationally in passing at 141.3 yards per game, which is on par with some triple option teams.

Who to Watch on Offense

Gus Edwards – RB – I am used to watching Edwards play, as he ran for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns as a backup running back for my wife’s Hurricanes the past three seasons. “Gus the Bus” is a big 6’1” 235 running back that already has a career high 393 yards rushing. He also has four TDs. He is a load to bring down and an experienced back that has played a lot of football.

Janarion Grant – WR – The 5’10” receiver is one of the few offensive playmakers for the Scarlet Knights. He is the school’s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage and has tied the NCAA record with 5 TDs on returns (along with 3 punt returns for scores). In the passing game he has 15 receptions for 162 yards and a score.

Jerome Washington – TE – If Rutgers throws it is likely going to Grant or Washington. Washington has a team high 16 receptions for 141 yards and a score. Washington is also a transfer from Miami that is in his first of two years of remaining eligibility.

? – QB – We have no idea who is starting at quarterback. Giovanni Rescigno drew his first start of the season last week, but is questionable with a knee injury. He has only completed 7 passes on the season for 112 yards. Kyle Bolin, a transfer from Louisville, started the first five games and has only 711 yards and 3 TDs against 6 interceptions. Freshman Johnathan Lewis is “the future” but twisted an ankle against Illinois and played just two snaps. He is a dual threat QB with 33 yards passing and a TD against two picks. Overall Rutgers has thrown for 848 yards with 4 TDs and 8 interceptions. Even last week they threw for just 102 yards and completed only 6 passes against Illinois.

Who to Watch on Defense

For the most part the Rutgers defense has been better. Being shutout 56-0 by Ohio State and shutting out Morgan State 65-0 pretty much cancel each other out, as if Ohio State played Morgan State and tried the whole game they could easily win 121-0. They are respectable against the run at 139.3 yards per game after being the only team in the conference worse than Purdue last year. The pass defense gives up 229.8 yards. It is a pretty average defense that has struggled because of a putrid offense. It is at least not the complete wreck it was a year ago.

Trevor Morris – LB – The 6’1” 232 pound junior linebacker leads the team with 45 tackles and 2 for loss. He is a decent linebacker that could be at least a reserve for most teams in the conference.

Darnell Davis – DE – Davis leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, so he will look to take advantage of a Purdue line that has given up a league high 20 sacks. With Grant Hermanns possibly out Davis’ presence looms even larger.

Kiy Hester – DB – Hester leads the team with 6 pass breakups and two interceptions, but has only been in on 13 tackles. As a team Rutgers does have nine interceptions, so both Elijah Sindelar and David Blough need to limit their mistakes. Three of the nine interceptions came against Morgan State.

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Janarion Grant – KR, PR – As mentioned above, Grant is a dynamic return man and might be the best in the country. He is in his fifth year, as he was injured early last season and was granted a 5th year of eligibility. He is averaging 18.2 yards per punt return and is a threat on both kickoffs and punts to take it all the way back.

Andrew Harte – K – Harte is 4 of 6 on field goals with a long of 39 yards. He has yet to attempt a kick from beyond 40, however.

Ryan Anderson – P – Anderson is one of the Big Ten’s better punters at 44.53 yards per kick. 12 of his 36 punts have been downed inside the 20.

Game Outlook

Rutgers is better than last year. There is no denying that. Last season the offense was horrid and the defense was somehow worse than Purdue’s. There is definite improvement, but mostly because last season they were a reasonable facsimile of Purdue’s 2013 team. They had a good enough defense to at least make things difficult for us.

The offense though is a mess, and has struggled to do much of anything. The passing game is a nightmare and we don’t even know who is starting. They might be able to rush for 200 yards as a team, but can they even complete 10 passes in a game? They are going to be even more one-dimensional than Minnesota was, and once Purdue got Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jacob Theinemann back against the Gophers we gave up just three points.

This needs to be a win. Period. I know Rutgers has some momentum coming off of their win at Illinois and they are playing their homecoming, but as long as Purdue does not have a significant regression in effort we should win. Purdue has not only looked better, its effort in all six games to this point has been exceptional. Only the final moments against Michigan, when the defense was completely gassed and the offense was frustrated, have we looked anywhere close to quitting. When was the last time you could say that.

I respect what Rutgers is trying to do, I really do, but we need to do this. Remember: Even Darrell Hazell could win at Illinois, and it looks like this Rutgers team is about equal to last year’s Illinois. Brohm needs to have them ready to go.

And if we lose, you can blame me because I was there.