Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pre-Season Countdown: #8

The nominees for the eighth most difficult team to beat this upcoming season are Purdue (for their short documentary in chicken commercials,) Northwestern (for their role in Hitchcock's North by Northwestern) and Illinois ( for the most cartoonish head coach surname--Zook.)

And the winner is . . .


In looking at the remaining schedule, these three teams not only occur in order in October, but they are fairly clearly a yard or two behind the others:  Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.  If you don't believe me, check the various polls out so far.  All but Iowa seem to be making appearances in various spots in the Top 25.  You won't find any of these three teams even receiving votes.  (Truth be told, Northwestern got one point in the AP poll, but who outside of Evanston gives a fark?)

Oh Danny Boy!
In contrasting these three nominees, Purdue gets the nod for several reasons.  In regards to schedule, this home game is sandwiched between Iowa and a trip to Evanston.  Iowa has given us fits the past decade or so, and while it should be a game we win this season, there are no automatic W's when it comes to the corn boys.  As such, we might be emotionally down after that game depending on the result.  We certainly have tougher games to be looking ahead to than Northwestern.  No offense, wildcats.

Purdue's weakness is offense, which plays into what I perceive as our strength--our defense.  Gone is Joe Tiller and the spread run and gun.  Purdue ranked 105th in the nation last year  averaging 19.7 points per game.  To make matters worse, their D gave up 28.8 points per game.  However, they are returning most of their defensive unit (9 starters) but are without Ryan Kerrigan, the Washington Redskins first round draft pick.

Purdue is coming off a 4-8 season in 2010, which includes wins over Ball State and Western Illinois.  They lost to Toledo, but hey, that shit happens.  They did beat Northwestern (no offense wildcats, but that's kind of embarrassing) 20-17.  Their fourth win was against Minnesota. 

Despite finishing with six straight losses, they did seem to improve to some degree, only losing to Michigan State 35-31 and taking Indiana to OT while coming up short 34-31.

Danny "thanks for the memories" Hope, is 9-15 at Purdue and is in his third year.  Is third time the charm?  More likely, this will be strike three.  Most of the publications I have read put the Boilers around 9th in the Big Ten.  That's not as bad as it used to be since we now have 12 teams, but the twelfth team--Nebraska--is ranked ahead of them, so it's pretty much a wash there.

Penn State is 10-3-1 all time versus Purdue.

This game is homecoming for Penn State, and the Lions are 65-21-5 in homecoming games and have won 39 of the last 45.

Prediction:  While you never know for sure how a team will come together, it certainly doesn't look promising for the Boilermakers.  I think Penn State will be able to score against them, and I don't think they will offensively be able to move the ball consistently against us.  I look for an impressive homecoming victory--solid but not a blow out.

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