Monday, September 24, 2012

There For The Taking?

Purdue fans are beginning to get excited about the possibilities for the Boilermakers this football season. Is the division there for the taking? Will you have the opportunity to high five and belly-bump with T-Mill of Hammer & Rails at the Big Ten Championship game and celebrate the appearance by tailgating to Whitesnake and Taylor Dayne? Let's think about it.

Wisconsin had yet another unimpressive victory over the weekend over the UTEP Miners and one might argue that Coach B is doing some panicking. He fired his O-line coach after the loss in Oregon and has now yanked transfer Danny O'Brien in favor of a former walk-on who only recently became a scholarship player. Stave played pretty well on Saturday and seemed to give the Badgers some life, but he's definitely untested and the Boilers, as we all know, get to take on the Badgers at home, so Stave's road mettle will be tested...though Wisky does play at Nebraska next weekend so if Stave shows no rattle in that one, it's doubtful that a 2/3 filled Ross-Ade will spook him. (Yes, that was my shot at everyone -- go to the games!)

Michigan, while not in the Leaders division, is still a conference foe and is also coming to West Laffy. Michigan was ranked until their six-turnover, stinker of a performance against apparently indestructible Notre Dame. Can the Boiler D follow the lead set by Alabama and ND (and to a lesser extent, Air Force, who only lost 31-25 to the Wolverines)? I do have confidence in this defense, particularly the line, so if they can bottle up the Denard at all, that bodes well for Purdue. Dare to dream?

Illinois got positively dump-trucked at home vs. La Tech over the weekend, 52-24. I understand that Louisiana Tech is a decent team this year, and I understand Illinois is working their way back. But they have to be better than this, don't they? They were at home, and as I tweeted Saturday night, I cannot remember a worse home loss to a non-conference team by a Big Ten program. Can you?

My point re: the Illini is that they're a divisional foe who is prone to getting hammered, both on the road (Lost at Az St, 45-14) and at home (see Tech, Louisiana).

Ohio State, while ineligible for the title game, still is a game that will count in the conference and divisional standings. And no matter what kind of fairy tale season this could turn into, it's very difficult to imagine the Boilers walking into the 'shoe and beating a ranked and potentially undefeated Ohio State team coached by Urban Meyer. 

Penn State seems to have begun to right the ship after two losses to start the season, but you never know where they'll be mentally by early November. And again, the Boilers get the Lions in Ross-Ade. While that's not a gigantic home field advantage, it does help to not have to travel to a place where the Boilers rarely win. As mentioned, the only place on the schedule like that is Columbus.

Iowa, our most hated rivals (OMHR), has now lost to both Iowa State and Central Michigan at home. I'm not saying I think any game is a lock -- esp not a road game against OMHR -- but if those teams can win in Iowa and Purdue wants to have a special season, this is the kind of game you need to win. Plain and simple.

Minnesota is tricky to figure out, because while they're 4-0 and clearly playing a lot better football under Jerry Kill, I think we need to wait to see if this is a truly improved team or more like one of those IU teams that wins non-conference games and then gets manhandled by the conference. Regardless, it's a road conference game.

Indiana is... ah, never mind. It's Indiana.

My biggest concern at this moment is the Marshall game, and not just because of the "take them one at a time" cliche. As you've heard us lament before, Purdue -- especially under Danny Hope -- always has one stinker against lesser, non-conference competition, usually at home. There's only of those left and so I find myself in fear of it. Yes, I like the makeup of this team and I like their focus. That doesn't make me any less concerned, though.

So what do you think? Is your optimism skyrocketing as you see what's going on in the conference? I'm getting closer, and beating Marshall will be a big help in making me giddy going into Michigan semi-under-the-lights in two weeks.

10 comments:

BoilerRick said...

Marshall will be a good final tuneup for our defense and we will see how good in pass defense we are. Reality is if we can't beat Marshall any thoughts of special season are over.
But for some reason this team seems to have a maturity that we haven't had for a while and I think they will come out and get the job done even without Marve. I hope Marve rests another week and wears a knee brace when he returns

Plang said...

Actually, given the way the defense played in South Bend, I say we have a pretty good chance. That is IF the defense shows up every week and the offense stays on the field long enough for the D to rest.

Other than IU and UI, I don't think there are any other games you could mark down as a sure win, but I don't think there are any you could mark down as a sure lose either.

I've watch O$U play a few times and I'm not overly impressed. Same for Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan. At this point, I would say anything is possible.

Jessica M said...

I want to be excited and optimistic, but experience has shown me that those feelings only result in disappointment. I hope the Boilers prove me wrong. I have tickets to the Championship game, and I would really love to see Purdue play in Lucas Oil.

zlionsfan said...

I do not think it would be possible for the Big Ten to be less impressive than they have shown so far. If the other teams continue to crap the bed in conference play, Purdue could find themselves in a New Year's Day bowl or better, and not just the cheapo ones that try to steal the earliest time slot before people realize football is on.

Michigan's defense isn't particularly good (which makes you wonder about Notre Dame a bit), and Denard has not had success in his previous games against Purdue. If the Boilers can keep him bottled up, they have a real chance to win. Wisconsin and Penn State seem to have serious QB issues, Ohio State is struggling against bad teams at home, Iowa may be using the backups to walk-ons at RB by the time they play us, Minnesota is an illusion, Illinois is just bad ... but IU likes to play the spoiler, so even if they're 0-7 in conference play, I'll be worried about that game.

The thing about Hope and giving away one game a year is that this year, it may not be a non-conference game. Hope can silence his critics and earn a contract for life from Burke (at $100K a year or something like that, I'm sure) with a Big Ten title, and he'll never get a better chance than this. (Even Tiller and Brees needed help to share the title.) A loss to the bottom half of the division would be even more costly than a loss to Marshall. They do need to beat the Thundering Herd, but they can't afford to drop a possible win in the conference, either.

boilerbah said...

If this isn't our year, we'll be waiting a long time.

BoilerPaulie said...

boilerbah may have just said the most profound thing I've read so far this season.

I sure hope it's our year.

J Money said...

Paul -- That's why it's now in the upper right of this here very website machine.

ATL_Boilers said...

One would think that with two weeks to rehab/rest/prepare the coaches would put together some good packages that could be used over the next few weeks and that the team has a little advantage over the Herd this weekend. Think being the key there. Looking forward to the game optimistically as I've had two weeks to prepare and excited about the possibilities for the rest of the season after doing some advanced scouting via BTN last weekend.

boxercr said...

Football is a simple game at heart: run the ball, stop the run, and win on the road. Purdue has proven they can do two of the three. Now, prove that you can win on the road, and the fans/alums will pour forth to fill the stadium. I dont have to believe in
Hope when I can believe in Short, Allen, and the Akeems.

John said...

Worse loss, Appalachian State over Michigan. For sure.