Purdue (7-4, 5-3) will know more about what’s at stake after Friday’s matchup between Nebraska and Iowa. Either way, Purdue will look to win the Old Oaken Bucket for a second consecutive year. Indiana (4-7, 2-6) has struggled this season but is coming off a double overtime victory against Michigan State. Let’s take a look at how the teams stack up:
First and foremost, the weather in Bloomington Saturday afternoon should be partly cloudy with a high of 55° and around 7 mph winds. This is a much better forecast for the Purdue offense than the previous 3 games. Aiden O’Connell should be able to throw the ball better this week in milder conditions. He will need to limit turnovers as he has been doing increasingly better. If AOC spreads the ball around to more than just Charlie Jones, it’s usually a good day. As for the rushing game, there is still no official word on if Devin Mockobee will play. If Devin can’t give it a go, Dylan Downing and Kobe Lewis should take the majority of the load Saturday but look for some gadget plays to help move the offense on the ground.
The Purdue defense has had a few nice performances this season, and they will look to have another on Saturday. Last week, the defense was able to force three turnovers against Northwestern, including a rare interception. There may not be many opportunities for interceptions this week, but it is a good sign for the defensive players to be hungry for the ball.
The Indiana passing offense has had its share of issues this season as starting QB, Connor Blazelak has been injured and leading receiver, Cam Camper, suffered a season ending knee injury earlier this year. In Indiana’s game against Michigan State, a game that went into double overtime, Indiana only threw the ball 7 times, completing 2 passes for 31 yards. Coach Tom Allen has made it clear that Indiana will rely on the rushing attack, which is now headed by rushing QB, Dexter Williams II, and RBs, Shaun Shivers and Josh Henderson. This would be Williams’ second career start, but in the running game, Shivers and Henderson have gotten the majority of the rushes, combining for 881 yards this season. Overall, the offense puts up about 21 points per game in conference play, tied for 7th in the Big Ten.
On defense, the season has not been kind to the Hoosiers. Indiana is giving up 35 points per game in conference play, good for dead last in the Big Ten. For comparison, Nebraska is giving up 10 less points per game in conference play and Purdue dropped 43 on the Huskers. The Hoosiers have not been able to stop offenses as they allow just over 450 yards per game, about 270 of which are from the passing attack. Some names to look out for are leading tackler, Aaron Casey and DB’s, Bryant Fitzgerald and Taiwan Mullen. Mullen is a touted lockdown corner for the defense and is the only Hoosier with multiple interceptions at 2. The defense has forced 13 turnovers this year, so they have an eye on the ball, and they get to the quarterback fairly well, recording 17 sacks this season.
The Hoosier’s special team’s unit boasts a fantastic return man in Jaylin Lucas, who has returned 19 kicks for an average of almost 30 yards and 2 touchdowns. Charles Campbell is the Hoosier’s placekicker, and he has made 13/17 field goals, including a 51 yarder this season. He has also gone 26 for 26 in PAT’s. James Evans, the punter, has done well too, averaging over 44 yards per punt.
DraftKings has Purdue as a 10.5 point favorite and an O/U of 54. I think Purdue will take care of business in this one, especially if Nebraska pulls out a win over Iowa. This game will not force a strong passing game on the Purdue secondary, so they can stack the box and focus on the run more. The weather will also be nice for the offense to put that precision passing unit to work. Purdue covers, the game hits the over, and the bucket stays home in West Lafayette.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.