Jumbo Heroes (4-5):
Apparently I’m not very good at this. I just have too much faith in Purdue. I picked them last week to beat an Iowa team that, I thought, had the offensive firepower of the kid picked last in a game of dodgeball. Unfortunately for Purdue, or perhaps because of Purdue, the Iowa offense woke up to the tune of 24 points and the Iowa defense clamped down on the Purdue offense for just 3 points.
So, now that Purdue is facing an Illinois team that has the best scoring defense in the nation do I expect Purdue’s offense to find itself and suddenly turn it around? Unfortunately, no I don’t. My faith in this offense is reaching all time lows as they just can’t seem to put it together. AOC has 5 INTs over the last two games and now must face a ball hawk defense that has 16 INTs on the year. Plus, this is an Illinois offense with a pulse. Sure they’ve found ways to lose to Michigan State and shockingly IU but I don’t think Illinois is going to let Purdue get away with this one.
Illinois sports the #1 overall defense in the entire country and although they haven’t faced any teams that would be considered really good offensively, at this point in the season you have to just believe who they are. Illinois, coached by Brett Bielema, has the look of those Wisconsin teams that just absolutely destroyed Purdue during his time in Madison. A strong running game led by Chase Brown, a capable QB in Tommy Devito, and an incredibly stout defense. Let’s be honest here, Purdue just struggles against teams like this and O’Connell hasn’t been his best recently. Purdue has had all of the reasons in the world to come out and play their best football the previous two games with the West Division right in front of them and promptly played their worst games of the year. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of a difference in Champaign on Saturday.
I have no idea who is going to win this game because I have no idea which Purdue team is going to show up. If it’s the Wisconsin/Iowa vintage, Illinois may have this put away by halftime. If it’s the Maryland (offense) or the Minnesota (defense) Boilermakers, Purdue may have this put away at halftime. This is a team without a baseline level of play. Never, ever, bet for or against a Jeff Brohm Purdue team.
This team is falling apart at the seams, which makes me think they will walk into Champagne and win. Whatever makes the least sense, is what’s going to happen with this team.
Purdue plays the same archetype for the third week in a row. Illinois has the best defense to date and Aiden O’Connell has struggled, especially with interceptions.