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2021 Purdue Football: Best Case/Worst Case

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Regardless, the Northwestern game is gonna be LIT.

Syndication: Indianapolis Jenna Watson/IndyStar

I think it is safe to say that Jeff Brohm’s future at Purdue hinges upon the 2021 season. That is not to say he will be fired after this season with a terrible result. Purdue would owe him something in the neighborhood of $20 million after this season. Considering we had to wait and buy out Darrell Hazell with about $5 million in 2016, and COVID taking a big chunk out of Purdue’s revenue streams, the only way Brohm is fired after this season is if he commits egregious NCAA violations or is framed for a crime. The same is probably true after next season.

So Brohm has job security, something sorely lacking in today’s world of college football. It is not time to rest on his laurels though. He needs a successful season this year and, at minimum, a return to a bowl game, lest Purdue fall into a strange limbo where it cannot get rid of its coach, but has no momentum whatsoever.

I have also felt for a long time that this was the season that things were supposed to really get rolling, His 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes were both top 30 nationally and they would be coming to maturation as sophomores, juniors, and redshirt freshmen. The 2019 season where injuries hit all over and there was no established depth hurt. The 2020 season was tough for everyone and it is hard to gauge the effects of it, but they were significant. The recruiting class rated a dismal 76th nationally for 2021, but the 2022 class is at least in the top 40 as of right now, so that helps.

The last two years were a step back, often for reasons out of his control, but they were still a step back. Brohm needs a recovery year. He swung big on transfers to come in and shore up some spots that needed them, which is good. That’s how the 2017 season ended up being a big turnaround, and it buys time for depth to develop. Things are still hanging by a tenuous thread. I don’t think Purdue was as bad as people made it out to be last year because it was in every game and again, it was a weird COVID year.

The potential is there even against allegedly the 5th toughest schedule in the country. I think Purdue is capable of having a very good year if everything comes together, but I also think things can go south in a hurry. Here is the best case and worst case scenario for each game.

September 4 vs. Oregon State

Best Case – Purdue opens the season under the lights at home and in front of fans for the first time in two years. The offense is humming. In a recent podcast with some Oregon State fans that I appeared on they mentioned their defensive line is not strong, and that was before their top lineman was named out for the first few weeks. That gets the offense humming early and often, while the defense shows improvement (because it really can’t get worse than it finished last year). This is the most critical game for Brohm’s future tenure, and it becomes a rousing success as Purdue cruises, and it is a springboard. Purdue 45, Oregon State 24

Worst Case – Like Purdue last season, Oregon State had a couple promising wins and was close in several losses (2-5, but with three losses by 15 total points). The defense was also bad, but the offense had potential. The Beavers basically find the answers Purdue is seeking since both had similar 2020 seasons. The Boilers’ concerns on the offensive line cause a load of problems. Purdue can’t run, the secondary can’t stop the pass, and Purdue can’t get off the field on 3rd downs. We repeat last year’s Nebraska game. Oregon State 37, Purdue 28

September 11 at Connecticut

Best Case – UConn might be the worst FBS program in America, and before not playing a game at all last year their defense was historically awful. The Boilers have not cracked 50 points under Brohm, getting as high as 49 against bottom feeder Ohio State in 2018, but has no trouble whatsoever against the Huskies. Purdue 56, Connecticut 17

Worst Case – I guarantee that Purdue is not losing to UConn. They are that bad. That doesn’t mean we’re not capable of having a heart stopping “Oh God, things are gonna be bad” type win like the only victory of 2013 over lowly Indiana State. The defense gives up a number of big plays, but David Bell saves us late. Purdue 31, UConn 30

September 18 at Notre Dame

Best Case – Purdue steams into South Bend for the first time in nine years averaging 40 points per game and faces an Irish team in a bit of transition. With Drew Brees in the booth giving some early magic the Boilers hold a fourth quarter lead, but Brees’ bad luck (remember, he lost both starts in South Bend) the Irish come back for a late win. Notre Dame 28, Purdue 24

Worst Case – The Irish were in the playoff a year ago and have a lot more talent than Purdue. It gets ugly early before they let off the gas. Notre Dame 45, Purdue 10

September 25 vs. Illinois

Best Case – Illinois is in year one under Bret Bielema and shows it is in transition. Purdue has generally done well against the Illini in the last 20 years, getting enough wins to tie the overall series. Most fans are in agreement that this game is a win if there is going to be any success at all, and Purdue does the job, taking the overall series lead for the first time in over a century. Purdue 34, Illinois 21

Worst Case – The 2019 season really went south with a loss at home to a mediocre Illinois team, and this series has recently been dominated by the road team, with the only win by the home team in the last nine games coming at Purdue in 2017. The same issues (Offensive line and secondary) become glaring. Illinois 27, Purdue 17

October 2 vs. Minnesota

Best Case – To me, this is the next most important game after Oregon State. If Purdue comes in at 3-1 it can still make a bowl with a loss, but a win opens the door for 8-9 wins. I think it has to come in at 3-1 regardless. The Boilers play pissed off after last year’s screw job and make sure there is no doubt this time, sinking the boat. Purdue 38, Minnesota 24

Worst Case – When things have gone sideways against the Gophers under Fleck they go sideways in a hurry. Purdue was blown out in Minneapolis in 2018 and the less said about 2019, the better. David Bell catches a pass going out of bounds and crashes into George Karlaftis on the sidelines, knocking both out for the season because its Minnesota. A shell of a Purdue falls apart. Minnesota 38, Purdue 21

October 16 at Iowa

Best Case – Anthony Mahoungou, Terry Wright, and David Bell times two. In four games under Brohm Purdue has had a receiver be completely unstoppable each time against the Hawkeye secondary. Bell has been especially tormenting, going for over 300 yards and 4 TDs in just two games. He saves his best for last with 21 catches for 203 yards and 4 scores as Purdue wins in Iowa City. Purdue 31, Iowa 24

Worst Case – With Bell and Karlaftis out Purdue comes in as a broken team, staring another lost season in the face. It makes a game of it because Ferentz is so damn conservative and Brohm has his number, but it is not enough. Iowa 24, Purdue 17

October 17 vs. Wisconsin

Best Case – Purdue comes tantalizingly close to ending its now infamous streak against Wisconsin, but can’t get over the top. Like the 2018 game, The Boilers have a two score lead in the fourth quarter, but fall in overtime. Wisconsin 34, Purdue 31 (OT)

Worst Case – It’s Wisconsin. They run for a quarter mile and the only thing that can stop their backs with any consistency is the end zone. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 10

October 30 at Nebraska

Best Case – Nebraska has not been NEBRASKA for a long time and they aren’t getting back there any time soon. I don’t think they are especially bad, but they aren’t really that good, either. That leads to a business-like win in Lincoln Purdue 31, Nebraska 25

Worst Case – Nebraska currently has some capital “P” Problems going on behind the scenes right now. Purdue is a broken team, but for one day they come in and put it together the backups in a battle of bad teams. Purdue 20, Nebraska 17

November 6 vs. Michigan State

Best Case – Mel Tucker was the dullest coach at Media Days and I got some strong Darrell Hazell vibes from him. The Spartans weren’t good last year and are in a rebuild right now. This should be one of the“easier” games on the home schedule (yes, “should” and “easier” are carrying a lot of weight there). A strong Purdue wins comfortably. Purdue 34, Michigan State 20

Worst Case – Here is where the false hope comes in. After winning at Nebraska Purdue comes home and beats a struggling Michigan State team. It becomes like the consecutive wins over Nebraska and Northwestern in 2019: A false hope for a turnaround the next season when everyone is back from injury, because by this point Michael Alaimo is starting. Purdue 23, Michigan State 21

November 13 at Ohio State

Best Case – As much as we want to replicate the Ross-Ade magic against the Buckeyes it doesn’t carry over to Columbus. Purdue manages to not embarrass itself, but it ends up a bit like Ohio State’s 2020 win over Indiana: a game that was close in the score, but with the Bucks firmly in control throughout. Ohio State 42, Purdue 31

Worst Case – UGLY Ohio State 59, Purdue 7

November 20 vs. Northwestern (Wrigley Field)

Best Case – Some time in the fourth quarter I descend into a state of complete euphoria from watching Purdue win a football game at Wrigley Field, one of the best places on earth. After consuming a halftime edible (Legal in Illinois!) I am found 3 hours after the win still somewhere in the ballpark with a catatonic smile. I don’t remember the particulars. Purdue wins. Purdue More points, Northwestern Less Points

Worst Case – It is a Good Northwestern year and a stout Wildcat defense shuts out Purdue, hitting a new low for the once vaunted Brohmfense. The edible leads to paranoia and I flee the ballpark somewhere in the third quarter, later to be found on the Red Line three hours after the game ends curled up in the fetal position, nude. Jed Hoyer trades me to the Orioles. Northwestern 24, Purdue 0

November 27 vs. Indiana

Best Case – The Bucket is liberated from a two-year exile in Bloomington as the Hoosiers prove to not be as good as the hype, especially after Michael Pennix Jr. can’t make it to the end of another season. Better yet, a miracle happens, Wisconsin is upset by Minnesota on the season’s final day, giving them a third conference loss and Purdue wins the tiebreaker with Iowa to head to the Big Ten title game. Purdue 30, Indiana 20

Worst Case – Indiana comes in undefeated with wins over Cincinnati and Ohio State, both in Bloomington, sitting in the top 5 because there wasn’t enough hype and they really are that good under Tom Allen. News comes out that Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams, and Zach Edey have transferred to IU midseason and are somehow immediately eligible. This news is announced with Purdue trailing by 4 touchdowns at halftime and they switch jerseys in the end zone like a WWE heel turn. Darkness descends upon the land IU basketball ascends to No. 1 in the polls with the news. Purdue finishes 3-9, IU wins the Big Ten and goes to the playoff, while basketball gets the 6th banner in March beahind Ivey, Tre, and Edey. Life is pain. Everything sucks. Indiana 52, Purdue 10

Best Case – 9-3 with a surprise appearance in the B1G title game.

Worst Case – 3-9 and coaching limbo.

My actual prediction: 7-5 and a decent bowl game.