From the column:
Purdue (5-7)With four Big Ten teams ranked in the preseason top 14 (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 10 Iowa, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 14 Penn State), you're excused if you haven't given a passing thought to the Boilermakers. But perhaps you should reconsider. Remember, this is a team that handed Ohio State its only conference defeat last season, came within a last-minute two-point conversion at Pac-10 champ Oregon and lost three other contests by less than a touchdown.
Now in his second season, coach Danny Hope adds a lauded quarterback in Miami transfer Robert Marve to throw to the league's top returning receiver, Keith Smith. Sacks leader Ryan Kerrigan (13) returns as well. Admittedly, Purdue is a long-shot to reach the BCS -- it might not even win its opener at Notre Dame -- but with a friendly conference schedule that avoids both Iowa and Penn State, nine wins and a Jan. 1 bowl aren't out of the question.
(Thanks to reader Jonathan for the heads up)