Last year I stated that Jeff Brohm’s future tenure at Purdue hinges on the 2021 season. 365 days ago he was in a very different spot. I wouldn’t exactly call it a hot seat, but a mediocre to bad 2021 would have warmed it.
Instead we got the best season in nearly two decades.
Brohm is in a great place right now, and with the release of yesterday’s coaches poll he has an opportunity to really build on something. Purdue only has one opponent in the preseason top 25, and that is No. 20 Wisconsin. Only three other teams (Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota) even received votes. Purdue itself received two votes, something that had not happened in 16 years. If the Boilers simply beat the eight teams on the schedule that did not receive votes it is another solid 8-4 season and a decent bowl game.
The potential is there for a great year. Can Purdue win the West? I wouldn’t say we’re favored, but there is a chance. Can Purdue win 10 wins for the first time in 43 years and only second time ever? It is certainly possible. The schedule last year was a lot harder with three top 5 teams on it and Purdue ended up beating two of them. With an easier schedule this year we can dream. Here is the best case and worst case scenario for each game.
September 1 vs. Penn State
Best Case – For the second straight season Purdue opens at home, and this time it is in a marquee game against its toughest Big Ten East crossover opponent. The Nittany Lions have beaten Purdue in nine straight games and are a fringe top 25 team. Purdue comes out and makes an early statement. Aidan O’Connell come out hot and goes for 350 yards and 3 TDs as the Boilers win the opener. Purdue 27, Penn State 21
Worst Case – The last time Purdue started at home on a Thursday night it lost a hard fought game to Northwestern in 2018. This time there is no Rondale Moore to make things look better. The running game struggles to get anything going and a solid Penn State pass defense picks off AOC three times. Penn State 30, Purdue 14
September 10 vs. Indiana State
Best Case – Indiana State might be better this year than UConn was last year. It is still an FCS game. I don’t anticipate any trouble here whatsoever. Purdue 45, Indiana State 7
Worst Case – The worst case is pretty much any scenario where this game is close after halftime. If Purdue struggles with the Trees at all it is going to be a bad year. Purdue 21, Indiana State 14
September 17 at Syracuse
Best Case – Non-conference road games against Power 5 teams are always a grab bag. We have no idea what to expect from Syracuse except that they have a very good sophomore running back. That reminds me of Boston College in 2018, where Purdue shut down A.J. Dillon and got up early. I think we see something similar. Purdue 27, Syracuse 13
Worst Case – Sean Tucker has a field day as the Orange show they are much better after going 5-7 last year with a lot of close losses. The Boiler offense stalls too many times, settling for field goals and turnovers on downs. They make an early statement in the Big Ten/ACC football challenge with a surprising win. Syracuse 24, Purdue 20
September 24 vs. Florida Atlantic
Best Case – The Owls should be another tune-up game. It’s homecoming and they make it competitive for about a half, but Purdue’s superior talent pulls away late. The Boilers look a little disinterested, but the margin is comfortable. Purdue 38, Florida Atlantic 17
Worst Case – Former Miami quarterback N’Kosi Perry leads a team with a bunch of Power 5 transfers to a road win. It turns out like the Nevada and Eastern Michigan games under Brohm, where a late field goal is the difference. If it comes after a bizarre penalty or in the rain, even worse. Florida Atlantic 24, Purdue 21
October 1 at Minnesota
Best Case – Purdue finally breaks the Twin Cities hex and gets its first win in the Gophers’ outdoor stadium. Minnesota has been a frustrating team to face because they don’t feel like they are much better than Purdue, but they keep beating us. This time Purdue benefits from a BS pass interference to set up the winning TD. Purdue 21, Minnesota 17
Worst Case – When things have gone sideways against the Gophers under Fleck they go sideways in a hurry. They are trying to be mini-Wisconsin and they continue to bulldoze us on the ground. For good fun, a shock blizzard hits Minneapolis the night before and Purdue has to play in 7 inches of snow. Minnesota 31, Purdue 10
October 8 at Maryland
Best Case – It’s a shootout! Maryland has a great pass offense but a lousy pass defense. Taulia Tagovailoa throws for 5 TDs, but Aidan O’Connell tops him with a six TD game as Purdue wins a wild one in our Nation’s capital. Purdue 49, Maryland 45
Worst Case – Tagovailoa has his great game, but Purdue continues to struggle running the ball against a run defense that wasn’t that great a year ago. A late interception seals a win for a surprisingly good Maryland team. Maryland 38, Purdue 31
October 15 vs. Nebraska
Best Case – By the time the Cornhuskers come to West Lafayette they are 1-5 and fresh off of a loss to Rutgers where they manage to snap the game-clinching kneel down snap over the quarterback’s head and out of the end zone for a safety, giving the Scarlet Knights a 1 point win. Scott Frost is fired on the ultimate Scott Frost Day and Purdue wins easily. Purdue 35, Nebraska 20
Worst Case – Scott Frost really does have it all together finally and they figure out how to not blow games. They end up winning the West while having a negative point differential. Nebraska 29, Purdue 28
October 22 at Wisconsin
Best Case – It’s Wisconsin. Purdue loses, but it is at least close. Wisconsin 24, Purdue 21
Worst Case – It’s Wisconsin. Braelon Allen sets a new FBS single game rushing record and scores 6 TDs. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 10
November 5 vs. Iowa
Best Case – Who is the receiver that will personally torment the Iowa secondary this year? Maybe the Browns let us borrow David Bell for a week. One of the constants under Jeff Brohm is his ownership of Ferentz and the Hawkeyes thanks to a big day from a receiver. This time he does it with Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy, hitting them with their own transfers. Purdue 27, Iowa 14
Worst Case – AOC is hurt, but Michael Alaimo finds a way to get it done because it is Iowa and a receiver has a big day. The Boilermakers play spoilermaker yet again and ruin Iowa’s divisional hopes. Purdue 17, Iowa 14
November 12 at Illinois
Best Case – Purdue has won five straight in Champaign. After getting through the worst part of the schedule the road to the Big Ten title game seems clear with an easier finishing kick. Illinois plays us tough like last year, but Purdue pulls it off again in the end. Purdue 23, Illinois 20
Worst Case – Bielema has the defense pitch a near shutout and gets just enough offense to reverse last year’s close game in West Lafayette. It keep their hopes up for a bowl game. Illinois 13, Purdue 9
November 19 vs. Northwestern
Best Case – Northwestern is going to be bad with no offense. Purdue walks. Purdue 41, Northwestern 10
Worst Case – Surprise! It’s a random good Northwestern year! The Wildcats clinch the Big Ten West as the defense remains stout and the son of Steve Schnur becomes eligible to lead them back to Pasadena. Northwestern 21, Purdue 14
November 26 at Indiana
Best Case – With Minnesota beating Wisconsin earlier in the day the door is open to win the West, and Purdue does that with gusto in Bloomington. In Tom Allen’s final game the backups are playing most of the fourth quarter. Purdue 59, Indiana 10
Worst Case – Zach Edey have transfers to IU midseason and is immediately eligible because he is Canadian, and thus not subject to U.S. or NCAA laws. The Hoosiers really are back in basketball. Sure, they still suck out loud in football and we win, but we’re talking worst case scenario here. Purdue 30, Indiana 20
Best Case – 11-1 with an appearance in the B1G title game.
Worst Case – 4-8 and more Brohm questions.
My actual prediction: 8-4 and a decent bowl game.