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Purdue (1-1) at Missouri (1-1) Preview

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For the first time since World War II Purdue faces an SEC team in the regular season.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When Purdue plays an SEC team it is a rare event. When it plays an SEC team in a regular season game it is even more rare. First, let’s look at some numbers. According to Winsipedia, Purdue is 11-7 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference. That’s not bad when you consider that Purdue is 10-20-3 against the Pac-12, 14-15-2 against the ACC, and 9-4 against the Big 12.

When you look a little closer, however, that 11-7 mark includes a 7-2 mark against Missouri and Texas A&M, both of whom were not members of the SEC at the time those games were played. That really brings Purdue’s record to 4-5.

Of those nine games, three came in bowl games and were the ONLY games Purdue has played against the SEC since 1942. Purdue lost a pair of overtime bowl games to Georgia in 2000 and 2003, and the lone victory was a 27-22 victory over Tennessee in the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl played at the Astrodome in Houston.

Saturday’s game against Missouri is only the 7th time Purdue has played an SEC team in a regular season game. Here are the previous six:

10/12/1895 Purdue 32, Kentucky 0 at Purdue

11/7/1914 Purdue 40, Kentucky 6 at Purdue

11/13/1915 Kentucky 7, Purdue 0 at Kentucky

11/9/1927 Purdue 27, Mississippi 7 at Purdue

9/27/1941 Vanderbilt 3, Purdue 0 at Purdue

10/3/1942 Vanderbilt 26, Purdue 0 at Vanderbilt

Since the Southeastern Conference was not formed until 1933 one could argue that only those first four games were not against the SEC, and therefore Purdue has only played TWO regular season games all-time against the Southeastern Conference, and IT HAS YET TO EVEN SCORE A POINT against the SEC in the regular season. that will certainly change as this year begins a run of three straight seasons where Purdue will face an SEC team.

So yeah, this weekend is a rare event indeed, and only the second time since 1956 that Purdue has played Missouri.

Missouri Tigers (1-1, 0-0)

2016 Record: 4-8, 2-6 SEC East

Bowl Result: None

Blog Representation: Rock M Nation

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 6-2

Last Purdue win: 28-25 on 12/27/1980 in Liberty Bowl

Last Missouri win: 14-7 on 9/26/1953 at Missouri

Head Coach: Barry Odom (5-9 in 2nd year)

So far Missouri has looked spectacular (at least on offense) in week 1 and kind of crappy in week 2. That week 1 was a wild affair in a 72-43 win over FCS Missouri State. That was a crazy game where Missouri led 48-35 at halftime after trailing 35-34 with five minutes to go before halftime. The defense was pretty atrocious, giving up almost 500 yards to an FCS team and several big plays. Fortunately, the offense was up to the challenge with over 800 yards.

Against South Carolina last week Missouri went up 10-0 early in the second quarter and decided to pack it in. The Gamecocks are not exactly an offensive powerhouse, but they reeled off a 31-3 run to close the game that included a 97 yard kickoff return by Deebo Samuel immediately after the Missouri touchdown made it 10-0. Missouri had 423 yards to South Carolina’s 359, but two interceptions and the kickoff return were a big difference.

As a result of giving up 74 points to a pair of offensively challenged teams in the first two games of the season defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross was fired this week:

On Sunday, Mizzou coach Barry Odom fired defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach DeMontie Cross and decided to assume those roles for the rest of the season. Senior linebackers Burkett and Eric Beisel can only accept the change and carry on.

“Not much else you can do,” Burkett said after Tuesday’s practice. “You wake up and say, ‘OK, let’s go.’ It doesn’t matter who’s in charge. We’re going to do what they tell us, trust them and give everything we’ve got.”

The latest ripple to Odom’s staff is more of a riptide considering the timing — two weeks into his second season — and that Odom will double as Mizzou’s head coach and inside linebackers coach while calling plays defensively, continuing with Saturday’s 3 p.m. home game against Purdue (1-1).

This is a very interesting wrinkle. South Carolina was not a good offensive team a year ago in going 6-7. In eight of 13 games they failed to score more than 20 points. Missouri State was shut out last week 34-0 by fellow FCS member North Dakota and had just 211 yards of total offense and 10 first downs. This is after going 4-7 a year ago. It is a safe bet to say Purdue is the best offense Missouri has faced to date and they now have major coaching questions on that side of the ball.

Who to Watch on Offense

Drew Lock – QB – Lock could not have had a better game against Missouri State, and he will test the entire Purdue secondary. He needed only 21 completions to throw for 521 yards and 7 touchdowns against just one interception. He was only sacked once, too. He is a traditional pocket passer and is not nearly the threat to run that Lamar Jackson was. In fact, he is -9 on rushing yards this season. Last week was a more pedestrian 245 yards with a touchdown and two picks on only 14 completions. His completion percentage is at only 53%, so his accuracy is an issue too. Still, he can go nuts if we let him.

Damarea Crockett – RB – Like Lock, Crockett had a huge game against Missouri State with 202 yards and 2 TDs. Last week he still had 97 on the ground. The 5’11” 225 pound back is only a sophomore, but he set the school record for freshmen with 1,062 yards and 10 TDs a year ago.

J’Mon Moore – WR – Lock has spread the ball around quite a bit this year, but Moore has been his top target with 7 receptions for 216 yards and 2 TDs. He had 187 yards and two scores against Missouri State, but was held to just 29 last week. He is a big receiver at 6’3” 205 pounds, so he has a definite advantage on the outside.

Johnathan Johnson – WR – Johnson had 5 catches for 116 yards and two scores against Missouri State, but did not have a single catch against South Carolina.

Who to Watch on Defense

Cale Garrett – LB – The 6’3” sophomore linebacker leads the team with 16 tackles and he also has a fumble recovery. He was very active last week with 10 tackles.

Jordan Harold – DL – Harold has 8 tackles on the season, but two have been for loss. He also had an eight yard sack a week ago against the Gamecocks.

Terez Hall – LB – Hall has been the most steady producer with 6 tackles in each of the first two games. He also had a sack in the season opener. Look for him to get into the backfield as he leads the team with four tackles for loss so far.

Logan Cheadle – DB – Cheadle has the only interception so far for the Tigers. He also has seven tackles and a pass break up.

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Dimetrios Mason – KR – Mason had a lot of chances to return kicks against Missouri State and he finished with 129 yards on four returns, including a 51-yarder.

Tucker McCann – K – McCann is 3 of 4 on field goals this season with a long of 43 yards. He also has 11 touchbacks on 16 kickoffs, but one of the five non-touchbacks was returned for a touchdown, so it is feast or famine for the coverage units.

Corey Fatony – P – On six punts so far Fatony is averaging 52.5 yards per punt with a long of 70 yards.

Game Outlook

Before the season started I felt this game would be the first true showing of how big of a difference Jeff Brohm was. I expected to get blown out by a very good Louisville team and I expected to beat Ohio at home in a closer game than it was. I looked to Missouri, a team that has struggled quite a bit the last two years, as the first test to see if Purdue could at least get to the level of a middling power conference team. It was going to be my early upset pick where the first signs of belief in Brohm would be seen.

Now, two weeks in, we can successfully say Brohm is ahead of schedule. Purdue not only put up a fight against Louisville, it could be argued that it should have won had the Cardinals not benefitted from some questionable calls and a pick-6. Against Ohio I expected a Purdue letdown, but the Boilermakers were excellent in the second quarter and never looked back.

It is safe to say the next step is beating a team like Missouri. The firing of their defensive coordinator just two weeks into the season is a clear sign of disarray that my friends at Rock M Nation will have more on tomorrow in our blogger interview. They have an offense that threw up 82 points in the season’s first 80 minutes, but only 3 in the last 40 minutes. There is not a lot of confidence on their side headed into this game, and the defense is definitely a question against a vastly improved Purdue offense.

Is this the best we have felt going into a game against a major conference team since the Hope era? Considering that Dollar Bill Darrell only had three Power 5 wins and each was a surprise at the time I would say yes.