The regular season is finished. The record is in the book and will sit there forever. Purdue finished 6-6. The question I’ve been wrestling with is did this team meet, exceed, or fail to meet expectations? I’m stuck on this question because it shows what kind of coaching job Jeff Brohm and the rest of the staff did based upon what all of us thought was possible going into the season. Luckily, for someone like me who writes for a major blog my predictions sit on the internet forever so there’s no backing away from what I thought to start the year. Let’s take a look shall we?
Much like Agent Mulder, I want to believe. I do. Truly. Like, I really want to believe. I didn’t believe last year and then Purdue went and surprised me with the 6-6 regular season followed up by a bowl victory. If I have to go with my gut right now before the team even plays a down of REAL football I will settle on 6-6. So much of what happens this year is going to be shaped by what happens in the Northwestern game. College sports are so interesting because of the rapid turnover of players via graduation, draft, or transfer that team continuity can be difficult to maintain unless you’re one of the big boys in the land. Purdue lost so much off the defensive side of the ball this offseason that I’m in a wait and see approach with them. On offense I feel like the weapons are there for the team to be good but they are just unproven. Who is gonna catch the ball? Anthrop is proven but you can’t just rely on one guy. What will the JUCOs give us in year two? Can Rondale Moore truly be the breakout player so many publications suggest? Plus, who is going to run the ball for Purdue? Seemingly every running back on the team is hurt right now so despite a wealth of talent in the backfield I’m extremely nervous about that position. I don’t know a ton about most of our opponents but I’ll learn as the season goes on so I reserve the right to change this 6-6 as the season progresses. Right now though the schedule LOOKS tough, much tougher than last year, so the question becomes has Purdue truly improved that much? From the Hazell era of course, but this is a whole new era and big things are expected. 2018 could be another step in that direction even if the record doesn’t indicate it.
So I got the 6-6 record right on the nose. My questions of who would catch the ball was legitimate but Anthrop certainly was a non-factor for most of the year. The running backs got healthy which largely alleviated my concern there.
To make myself look even better I also picked Purdue beating Ohio State. Again, let’s take a look shall we?
If I’m being forced by these draconian questions to choose an upset out of those three games, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin I’m gonna have to use process of elimination. Wisconsin is out because of the history between the two schools and until something changes Purdue vs. Wisconsin will always be a game I dread. Michigan State and Ohio State have been two teams that in the last 10-15 years Purdue has played extremely tough with plenty of upsets thrown in the mix. Given the relative stability at Michigan State right now I will toss them out, plus the game is at Michigan State this year. That leaves me with Ohio State who currently stand in disarray without their coach. You and I don’t know what type of impact that has on this Ohio State team or how this process will wind up as the season gears up. Will the team rally around their embattled coach or will it bring the whole team down? My upset of Purdue over Ohio State depends on the team being a bit distracted with all this news.
So again, even though my logic on Ohio State being distracted was off I was able to choose the upset. But, given all of this did this Purdue team beat, meet, or exceed my expectations? I would say the team met my expectations but the manner in which the team got to 6-6 was certainly surprising. I would have expected Purdue to defeat Eastern Michigan, they didn’t. I didn’t truly expect Purdue to beat Iowa, they did, or even Ohio State for that matter, yet they did. I thought Purdue would beat Missouri, they didn’t. I didn’t think Purdue would beat a ranked Boston College team, they did.
My point is, the games were unpredictable and the results each week were up in the air. That doesn’t mean that Purdue failed to meet my expectations. They still won 6 games. Did my expectations change after the three straight losses to start the year? Definitely. I was worried about Purdue winning a single game at some points. After Ohio State I thought Purdue might run the table through the rest of the season and sneak into the B1G Title game. I was wrong practically every time.
Take away the individual games and ask any Purdue fan if they would be happy with a 6-6 record after losing a majority of the defense, with having both QBs coming off injuries, an extreme lack of known quantities at wide receiver, and the hospital ward that was the running back position prior to game one and I’m sure nearly all fans would say they were thrilled.
Purdue football was a roller coaster this year there’s no doubt about that. In my mind that made it one hell of a fun season. Actually believing Purdue would upset Ohio State would’ve been crazy, but it happened. Getting blown out against Minnesota was completely unexpected, but it happened. This team has a long way to go in the future but things are moving in the right direction. Right now the team is meeting my expectations and that’s truly all I can ask for. In future years 6-6 won’t be acceptable. What happens then will show what this program is truly capable of.
What say you? Did this team meet your expectations?