Coming off a frustrating loss to Iowa, Purdue (5-4, 3-3) travels west to Champaign to take on Illinois (7-2, 4-2) for the Purdue Cannon. Let’s take a look at how these teams stack up:
Just like last week, Purdue comes into this game following a brutal loss to a struggling (by their standards) team and looks to bounce back. This time, however, Purdue’s offense has been seriously questioned as Aidan O’Connell has not had the same success as last season. In addition, every receiver / tight end not named Payne or Charlie has failed to show up lately and the offensive play calling has been mediocre at best. This may sound like a broken record by now, but there are three things that the Purdue offense must do this week: spread out the targets, get an early lead, and run the dang ball. The past two games, Purdue faced a 21-0 and 17-0 deficit in the first half, all but guaranteeing that AOC would have to continuously throw the ball to catch up. Unfortunately, O’Connell had to rely too heavily on Charlie Jones and Payne Durham, creating easy keys for the defenses. If Purdue wants to have a shot this week, it will need to turn the tables on the past two games offensively.
On defense, Purdue made Spencer Petras and company look fantastic for a quarter in which they scored more than their points per game, threw for more yards than their average per game, and accounted for 40% of their seasons passing touchdowns. Purdue’s secondary is depleted right now, and the defense as a whole has a major tackling problem. It comes down to fundamentals, a concept that Purdue has struggled with this season. If the defense can show up with an extra week’s rest and play sound football, this could be a better week. That’s a big if though.
Illinois has taken a good running back and turned him into one of the nation’s best while bringing in an efficient quarterback to lead the way. Former Syracuse QB, Tommy Devito is currently having the best season of his career, passing for 1882 yards on 71.8 % completion and 14 TDs against 2 INTs. Next to Tommy is a legit rushing threat in Chase Brown, also having the best season of his career. Brown has rushed for 1344 yards for an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 8 total touchdowns. This offense has played well and can methodically drive down the field to score.
Once again, Purdue will face an elite defense, as the Illini are among the nation’s best. This defense will bully you, take the ball from you, and smile as it does it. In 9 games this year, Illinois has forced 21 turnovers, 16 being interceptions while allowing an FBS best 10.4 points per game. They have also sacked opposing QBs 26 times this year. For a struggling Purdue offense, this will mark the toughest challenge on the year. The three-headed monster of Sydney Brown, Jartavius Martin, and Kendall Smith will look to cause Aidan O’Connell nightmares and add to their absurd 11 combined interceptions.
DraftKings sees Purdue as a 6.5 point underdog and an O/U of 45. Both of these teams need to win for a shot at winning the Big Ten West. After Purdue’s last two showings against similar teams, I don’t have much confidence right now. Aidan O’Connell has not looked right in a while and this defense is better than the previous ones Purdue faced. Purdue needs a lot of things to go right for a shot in this one, and I just don’t see it happening. Illinois covers handily and the teams hit the over.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.