In two of the four seasons that Darrell Hazell was in West Lafayette Purdue was 3-2 after five games. No, really! Look it up! I will wait. It happened in 2014 and 2016. Of course, in both of those seasons Purdue closed the year with seven straight losses, but this year things are different. In both of those years Purdue had a light early schedule and dropped gamers it probably should have won. This year Purdue’s schedule was a bit front-loaded, at least on paper. Louisville and Michigan were preseason top 15 teams. Ohio was a division champ. Minnesota won 9 games. Missouri had a strong offense.
Yet Purdue is here, 3-2 and halfway to bowl eligibility.
The back part of the schedule is very friendly for a bowl game. The Boilers will likely be favored against Rutgers and Illinois. In fact, they should win those games if they continue to play as well as they have. That leaves one more win, and with games against Nebraska, Northwestern, and Indiana, I like our chances to get one of those.
That would mean a return to the postseason, but where? Here are this week’s bowl projections:
December 29, Noon, Jacksonville, FL (ESPN)
Purdue vs. LSU
IT’S THE ETLING BOWL! GET HYPE! Purdue playing in a bowl game against former quarterback Danny Etling would just be strange. The Tigers have been up and down too, losing at home to Troy but winning at Florida. The Boilers have never played LSU, either.
Heart of Dallas Bowl (David Hale’s pick)
December 26, 1:30pm, ESPN, Dallas, TX
Purdue vs. California
Foster Farms Bowl (Kyle Bonagura’s pick)
December 27, 8:30pm, FOX, Santa Clara, CA
Purdue vs. Utah
Both of ESPN’s writers have Purdue in a bowl this week. The first has Purdue returning to its last bowl site and playing Cal for the first time since September 12, 1992 when the Boilers stunned Top 15 Cal 41-14 in West Lafayette. This was a year after Purdue lost 42-18 at Cal, and those are the only two meetings.
As for the Foster Farms Bowl, this seems unlikely since Utah won this bowl over Indiana last year and they want to mix it up. Purdue has never played Utah.
Music City Bowl
December 29, 4:30pm, ESPN, Nashville, TN
Purdue vs. South Carolina
Purdue has already beaten one SEC team based in Columbia, so why not another? Purdue has never played South Carolina either, and this would be a nice game on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend that is an easy drive down I-65.
January 1, Noon, ESPN2, Tampa, FL
Purdue vs. LSU
Alum Jerry Palm is all about getting Purdue into the Outback Bowl and he has it as ETLING BOWL GET HYPE!