Last Saturday we learned that Ohio State has a better football team than Purdue. It wasn’t a shocking revelation. If you’ve read my stuff over the last few years, you know I’m the last person to give Purdue and Jeff Brohm a free pass after a loss, but I’m happy to offer a free pass after last weekend. Brohm and company threw the kitchen sink at Ohio State early and it didn’t work. No shame in losing to a team like Ohio State, especially on the road against a Buckeye team looking to make every game a “statement game” after getting knocked off by Oregon early in the year. Purdue had their full attention, and that’s never a good thing. As I said last week, the Buckeyes are a different beast. In reality, they play a different level of football than Purdue, and 95% of the other college football programs in the nation. I think Purdue’s a good team, and the Boilermakers have 2 players that would start for Ohio State. That’s almost impossible to overcome. The key to playing Ohio State is to not let them beat you twice.
Travis might revoke my credentials for writing this, but I wish this Northwestern game wasn’t being played Wrigley Field. The Wildcats are bad football team. I’m not even sure I’ll get pushback on that statement in the comments. I worry that playing in Wrigley will give a team that’s trying hard to quit on the field, a spark. This is their bowl game, and I expect them to give this game their best shot ... whatever that looks like. It’s up to Purdue to shake off the Ohio State beating and extinguish that spark early, and then pour it on Northwestern. One mark of a well coached team is the ability to treat each game as a 1 game season. You can’t get too high after a win (which George Karlaftis said Purdue struggled with after the Iowa win) and can’t get too low after a loss. Ohio State was last week’s season, Northwestern is this week’s season.
Thus far, Purdue has responded to each loss this season with a bounce back win. They tried hard to let Notre Dame beat them twice, but managed to scrape together an ugly win against Illinois, which counts exactly the same as a pretty win. They bounced back after a bad Minnesota loss with a huge win over Iowa (sending the Hawkeyes into a death spiral). Purdue’s consistent, inconsistency and penchant for head scratching losses has been a black cloud over the Boilermakers. Coming out and dominating a woeful Northwestern team and following that up by double tapping the zombie Hoosiers in the Bucket Game would help put that narrative to rest, at least until next season.
If I’m Coach Brohm, I burn the Ohio State tape. It doesn’t have any useful information, other than Ohio State’s offense is faster than Purdue’s defense. The Michigan State game, where the Boilermakers handled a hot, and slightly more talented Sparty outfit gives him a much better look at what Purdue does well. The team can’t get caught sulking against Northwestern, because Northwestern is a bad football team, but Purdue is more than capable of losing to a bad football team. That can’t happen.
Purdue hasn’t won 8 games since 2007. That should be a layup with the remaining schedule. I thought 8 wins, playing for 9 wins in bowl game was the ceiling for this team. Purdue hasn’t won 9 games since 2003, and has only won 9 or more games 10 times in their history, dating back to 1892 (only 7 times in the Big10). This team has a chance to be an historically good Purdue team, as odd as that sounds. Throw in the dirty diaper dumpster fire in Bloomington this season, and that would put Purdue in great position to regain control of in-state recruiting (Notre Dame doesn’t count). If nothing else, this team will need a recruiting portal talent infusion next season, and selling 8 (or hopefully 9) wins makes those conversations much easier.
Yeah, the Ohio State game sucked, but in the long run, it didn’t mean anything. These next 2 games might be the most important 2 games of the Brohm era since the home stretch of his first season. If Purdue can shake off what happened in Columbus and handle their business, it could significantly alter the trajectory of the program moving forward. Good teams win the games they are supposed to win, and I still think this is a good team. They need to take care of business. No excuses.