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Indiana at Purdue Preview

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It’s Old Oaken Bucket time and Purdue is going for three in a row.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Northwestern at Indiana Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last two seasons have been all about bowl eligibility with the Old Oaken Bucket game. In each of the last two seasons both teams have entered with a 5-6 record, but Purdue has prevailed to earn the postseason berth by a touchdown. In 2017 that was great. The Boilers rode the surprise bowl bid to a win in the Foster Farms Bowl over Arizona. The less said about last year’s bowl game, the better. In 2015 and 2016 Purdue was far from bowl eligibility, but Indiana won both to head to the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time since the early 90s.

This year is different. Indiana is already bowl eligible and is trying to reach 8 wins for the first time since 1993. The dream of #9Windiana is also technically still alive, as they would need to beat Purdue and win their bowl game. For Purdue, the season that felt somewhat lost with the last collapse in Reno is nearly over. As many feared, that fourth quarter debacle has cost Purdue a chance at bowl eligibility this week, but the Boilers may not have enough healthy players to put on much of a showing in a bowl game anyway. Purdue is looking for a win to salvage some pride, keep the Bucket, cancel #9Windiana, and build momentum for 2020 by winning three of the last four after the season seemed lost at 2-6.

As always, expect a great rivalry game.

Indiana Hoosiers

2018 Record: (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten East)

Bowl Result: None

Blog Representation: Crimson Quarry

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 74-41-6

Last Purdue win: 28-21 on 11/24/2018 at Indiana

Last Indiana win: 26-24 on 11/26/2016 at Indiana

Head Coach: Tom Allen (17-19 in third season at Indiana)

2019 so far for Indiana

A lot has been made about Indiana not beating anyone. To a point, that is true. Their seven wins are over 4-7 Ball State, 1-11 (and FCS) Eastern Illinois, 2-9 UConn, 2-9 Rutgers, 3-8 Maryland, 2-9 Northwestern, and 5-6 Nebraska. That’s a combined record of 19-59. Their four losses are to 5-6 Michigan State, 11-0 Ohio State, 9-2 Michigan, and 9-2 Penn State for a combined record of 34-10. By comparison, Purdue’s seven losses are to 7-4 Nevada, 5-6 TCU, 10-1 Minnesota, 9-2 Penn State, 9-2 Wisconsin, 8-3 Iowa, and 6-5 Illinois, a combined record of 54-23. Our wins are over 3-8 Vanderbilt, 3-8 Maryland, 2-9 Northwestern, and 5-6 Nebraska (combined record, 13-29). The worst loss between the two is TCU/Michigan State (an argument could be made that Nevada is better than both), while the best win each has is over Nebraska.

That said, this is Indiana. Simply improving to the point where they beat the teams they should beat is a huge improvement. Last year the Hoosiers couldn’t beat Minnesota and Purdue and it cost them a bowl. Two years ago it was Maryland and Purdue that cost them. This is a program that has a nasty habit dropping close games it should win, and this year they have done what they needed to do while also giving Penn State quite a game in Happy Valley. Under Jeff Brohm Purdue has not gotten to that level. You just have to look at 2017 Rutgers and Nebraska, 2018 Eastern Michigan, and 2019 Nevada (given we had a 17 point 4th quarter lead) to see that.

They aren’t even barely edging through these games, either. Nebraska and Maryland were close on the road while Purdue edged Nebraska in West Lafayette and blew out Maryland. There are only a handful of common opponents, but the schools both beat Maryland (Purdue by 26, Indiana by 6), Nebraska (Indiana by 7, Purdue by 4), and Northwestern (Indiana by 31, Purdue by 2). Both lost at Penn State (Purdue by 28, Indiana by 7).

Of course, injuries are a major factor for Purdue, but for Indiana as well:

Gee, losing those six guys for one game is certainly the same as Purdue:

#4 Quarterback in the last three games, #1 out for the last six, #2 for the last 3, and #3 the entire year.

#3 Running back for the entire season, as Tario Fuller and Richie Worship have barely played.

#1 All-American receiver out for 6 games

#2/3 receiver Jared Sparks out for 8 of the last 9 games.

#1 center out most of the season

#1 linebacker out the last 9 games

#1 defensive tackle out all season

#2 linebacker (Cornel Jones) out several weeks

I mean, that is basically the same as missing their key guys for a game or a half a game in some cases (Coy Cronk and Michael Penix Jr. have been out far longer, I know).

So yes, injuries suck, and they could be a major factor for Indiana in this game as well because their top receiver and running back are questionable coming in.

Who to Watch on Offense

Peyton Ramsey – QB – Ramsey originally lost the starting job to Penix, but was the starter last year and has filled in very well since Penix was shut down for the season. He has 1,890 yards and 10 TDs against 4 INTs while completing 71% of his passes. He has also been somewhat effective running the ball as he is No. 2 on the team at 156 yards and 4 TDs.

Stevie Scott – RB – Scott has been excellent with 845 yards and 10 touchdowns as Indiana has relied on him a lot. Considering that Jonathan Taylor just rushed for another 130 yards as I wrote this, Scott is a concern. He left last week’s game with an injury, however, and is questionable this week. If he doesn’t play it would be a huge blow for Indiana. Freshman Sampson James is probably the top backup option, but he has only 132 yards rushing and averages 2.8 yards per carry.

Whop Philyor – WR – Like David Bell, Philyor is one of the best receivers in the Big Ten with 61 receptions for 863 yards and 3 TDs. He missed last week with a concussion sustained against Penn State and is also questionable. Ty Fryfogle and Peyton Hendershot each have 42 receptions and over 500 yards, but if Philyor is out it would be a significant loss.

Who to Watch on Defense

Perhaps the biggest reason for Indiana’s renaissance is its defense. Yes, Michigan shredded them through the air last week and Ohio State killed them, but Ohio State does that to everyone. The Hoosiers are right in the middle of the conference in total defense and give up 100 yards less than Purdue per game. The pass defense gives up 193 yards per game and the run defense gives up 134.9 yards per game. Of course, Purdue is heavily skewed towards the pass and is one of the worst rushing teams in the country, so we already know we’ll be one-dimensional.

Allen Stallings IV – DL – Stallings has had a decent season with five sacks and 20 tackles overall. As a team Indiana has 25 sacks compared to Purdue’s 18, but Purdue has given up 27 and Indiana has given up just 18. Demarcus Elliott and Jerome Johnson also each have three sacks.

Micah McFadden – LB – Indiana does not have a tackling machine like our Ben Holt, but McFadden leads them with 51 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception. The sophomore linebacker is developing into quite a defender and is going to be the heart of their defense for a while.

Tiawan Mullen – DB – Mullen has defended eight passes, but does not have an interception. As a team Indiana has only four interceptions, the fewest in the conference. If that trend holds Aidan O’Connell should be able to move the offense. Indiana is -1 in turnover margin on the season and Purdue’s recent improvement there has brought it up to -6.

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Logan Justus – K – Our own J.D Dellinger has been good, but Justus has been virtually perfect. He is 14 of 14 on field goals with a long of 50 yards and he has only missed one extra point.

Haydon Whitehead – P – Whitehead is averaging a solid 41.9 yards per punt and which is a lot better than Purdue’s punter-by-committee approach.

Game Outlook

At this point we know what we’re going to get with Purdue and its injury situation. Aidan O’Connell has been pretty solid and has pushed his way into the conversation about starting next season. David Bell has been amazing, Brycen Hopkins is coming off of a career week, and there is at least a possibility Rondale Moore could come back. The Boilers availed themselves quite well at Wisconsin last week on offense and the defense at least won’t be facing Wisconsin’s line again. Playing at home against a rival Purdue is going to keep playing hard.

With Indiana, the status of Philyor and Scott are huge. If they are out then these teams are probably pretty even. If both of them play the Hoosiers have a definite advantage, but if not, their offense could stall out.

It will be an interesting game to see for sure. Purdue’s record is not great, but the Boilers have fought awfully hard the last three weeks and have shown a lot of improvement. Getting this game and going into the offseason with positive momentum would be a big step with so many freshmen playing big minutes.