On Saturday, Purdue heads to New Jersey (bleh) to take on Rutgers, and finds its self in an entirely unfamiliar position. Purdue is expected to win a football game.
Coach Brohm and the Boilermakers have made incredible progress this season. We’ve gone from, “maybe we can beat Ohio and we’ll probably lose to Missouri” to “Purdue is the road favorite vs Rutgers.” With this progress, however, comes some new pressure the Boilermakers.
A loss against any team thus far on our schedule could have been written off to a new system or a lack or talent, or simply a losing culture, but Purdue has played its self out of those excuses. The Boilermakers should beat Rutgers, and not doing so will be considered a disappointment.
Purdue gains very little with a victory over a moribund Rutgers program. This Purdue team should beat Rutgers, and that’s what makes me a little nervous. The Boilermakers have built a ton of good will throughout the season, but a slip up vs Rutgers could erase most of what the Boilermakers have built.
I would feel a little better if Purdue didn’t come into this game facing significant injury questions. Purdue’s most explosive playmaker, Terry Wright, is banged up, but should play. It looks like our leading tackler, T.J. McCollum is trending the other way, and is doubtful for this contest. Finally, and most significantly in my opinion, starting left tackle Grant Hermanns is also listed as doubtful for the Rutgers game. Purdue is paper thin on the line to start with, and if Hermanns can’t go, Brohm is going to have to do some serious shuffling just to put out a functional offensive line.
Luckily, Rutgers is terrible at getting to the quarterback, but you’ve got to think they will do everything they can to heat up an injured and inexperienced line and put pressure on Purdue’s two headed quarterback monster. This could be problematic, as Sindelar doesn’t feel the rush very well, especially off the blind side, and has fallen victim to the strip sack and straight up blind side crushing more than I feel comfortable with. Blough, on the other hand, does a better job of feeling and avoiding the rush, but consistent pressure seems to short circuit his brain, and he is prone to throwing the ball to the other team in bunches.
I don’t think Rutgers can score enough points to beat Purdue, without Purdue chipping in with a few costly turnovers, and honestly, that’s been Purdue’s downfall on offensive all season.
If the Boilermakers hold onto the ball tomorrow, we can chalk up our Rutgers win, get one step closer to bowl eligibility, and continue the feel good story of the Big10 (if a certain local high school player makes up happy tonight, all the more momentum).
If Purdue’s quarterbacks give the ball to the other team, we could very well be in for a fight against a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain from beating Purdue. If we trip up here, all the good will we’ve built so far will sink into the swamps of jJrsey, and we’ll be fighting an uphill battle to recover our confidence and momentum.
So, if everyone will please break out the lucky shirts, drink the proper amount of booze, and maybe throw up a quick prayer to the sports deity of your choice. It would be much appreciated.