Saturday night’s game will be a milestone. It will be the 500th game in the history of Ross-Ade Stadium (and the 496th with fans). We were initially expected to hit this milestone in game 5 of last year, but… yeah. It is the second time the Oregon State Beavers will play in Ross-Ade Stadium, and they have a perfect winning percentage. You have to go back to 1967 for their 22-14 win, but it was over a top 5 Purdue team that was the defending Rose Bowl champion and one that had legitimate national title aspirations.
This year… is not as touted. It is still a very important game though. I view it as a must-win for the entire Jeff Brohm era. The last time Purdue faced a season opener this important was 2015, when the Boilers went to Marshall and immediately threw a pick-6 on the first play of the season. Considering Purdue went 2-10 that year, it was indeed a harbinger of disaster.
This time Purdue is at home and it is facing a mirror image of itself. Oregon State has some strengths. Their entire offensive line returns and they have a strong stable of running backs. They are facing a team that had a QB derby up until this week and could play multiple guys at the position. The pass defense is also suspect without much of a defensive line. It really could come down to “who is more Purdue” in the bad sense from last year.
Oregon State Beavers
2020 Record: 2-5 Pac-12 North
Bowl Result: None
Blog Representation: Building the Dam
Series with Purdue: Oregon State leads 1-0
Last Purdue win: None
Last Oregon State win: 22-14 at Purdue on 10/21/1967
Head Coach: Jonathan Smith (9-22 in 4th season at Oregon State)
Line: Purdue by 6
Last Season for the Beavers
Don’t let the 2-7 record fool you. It was a season of close calls for the Beavers, much like Purdue. They lost to Utah by 6, Stanford by 3, and Washington by 6. Oregon “won” the Pac-12, but the Ducks lost the annual Civil War to the Beavers 41-38 in Corvallis. Like so many teams last season, it was a strange season played under absurd conditions yielding varying results, especially when there wasn’t going to be a Pac-12 season for a period of time.
Who to Watch on Offense
Sam Noyer – QB – Noyer, a transfer from Colorado, won the quarterback battle over incumbent Tristan Gebbia, but like Purdue, Gebbia has enough experience to come in and try to jump start the offense if Noyer struggles. Noyer was okay in limited action last year at Colorado. After playing sparingly his first two seasons he completed 88 of 160 passes for 1,101 yards and 6 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. He started the bowl game against Texas and was… bad, going 8 of 23 for 101 yards and two picks.
Tyjon Lindsey – WR – Lindsey is the top returning receiver from last year with 11 catches for 159 yards and three scores. The passing game was not particularly explosive at just over 200 yards per game, but it is diverse. Coach Smith says as many as nine receivers could play.
The Offensive Line – This is a big one as all five starters return and are locked in. That brings a wealth of cohesion and can be a huge benefit, especially after the non-George Karlaftis pass rush struggled a year ago. Oregon State ran for nearly 200 yards per game last year, but leading rusher Jermar Jefferson (and Pac-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year) is off to the NFL to the Detroit Lions (poor guy).
Who to Watch on Defense
Addison Gumbs – LB – Gumbs was listed as “a force” by the Oregonion, but he has not played a lot of football. He missed 2018 as a transfer from Oklahoma, got injured after just two games in 2019, and did not play at all last year. He is a big linebacker at 6’3” and over 250 pounds.
Jack Colletto – LB – While no relation to former Purdue coach Jim Colletto, Jack is a two-way player that could see time as a short yardage quarterback. He has 154 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns as well as 201 yards passing. He is expected to start at inside linebacker.
Rejzohn Wright – CB – Wright was one of the top JuCo corners in America two years ago, and should come into his own. He is listed as the number 1 corner and will have the unenviable task of having to cover David Bell. If he can’t do it, Purdue will have a big game.
Who to Watch on Special Teams
Everett Hayes – K – Hayes did not miss an extra point last year and was 5 of 7 on field goals with a long of 48, so he has plenty of leg.
This has to be a win for Purdue. It just has to. I don’t see a path forward to a bowl game without this one because if we can’t beat Oregon State it is going to be a struggle to beat the same type of mid-level teams we will see in the Big Ten.
With their offensive line and running game the Beavers are built to protect a 4th quarter lead, something that was a huge problem last year against Northwestern, Rutgers, and Nebraska. Those teams bled out the clock on the Boilers, especially Rutgers. Conversely, their pass defense is a concern, as it was near the bottom of their conference while Purdue’s pass offense was the best in the Big Ten. This feels like a game where the team leading at the start of the fourth quarter has the advantage, because I don’t know if Oregon State has the passing game to catch up, but they have the ground game to bled clock.
I think Jack Plummer and David Bell have a big advantage though. Purdue needs to come out swinging early and puts some points up fast. The defense also must show significant improvement against the run.