PUR passing offense vs. IND pass defense
This match-up will most likely determine Saturday's winner. The Hoosiers had to be feeling OK about this pivotal battle a few weeks ago, but after giving up six touchdown passes and 546 passing yards in the last two weeks their confidence has been rattled. Meanwhile, Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter and the Boilers spread passing attack has had a revival recently after tough times early. Painter completed 21-30 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan State and last week added 229 passing yards and another score in a 42-31 victory over Illinois.
A big part of Purdue's recent success is junior receiver Dorien Bryant, who has 16 receptions, 216 yards, and three touchdowns in his last two games. Veteran IU corner Tracy Porter will be charged with keeping Bryant in check and should perform admirably in what he knows is the biggest game of his career. The other side of the field is where the concern lies for the Hoosiers as inconsistent corner Leslie Majors has to keep track of speedster Selwyn Lymon, who is averaging 18.6 yards per reception as a valuable deep threat. The IU safeties meanwhile have to be wary of the playaction and keep tabs on tight end Dustin Keller, Purdue's second-leading receiver with 643 yards on the season, as well as big target Greg Orton, who has 514 receiving yards himself.
The bottom line is that Purdue leads the Big Ten and is sixth in the nation in passing offense at 288.7 yards per game, while Indiana are ninth in the conference and 94th in the nation in pass defense (225.3 yards per game allowed). Simply put, Indiana has to slow down what could be become a frighteningly prolific Boiler passing attack.
PUR DE Anthony Spencer vs. IND LT Scott Anderson
Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that the Hoosiers would be lamenting the loss of a true freshman offensive tackle? That's became a reality over the past two weeks as the Hoosiers are likely once again to be without the services of starting left tackle Rodger Saffold. The 6-foot-5, 275 pound true freshman earned his first career start against Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener and has held onto the job ever since, that is until an unspecified illness sidelined him last week against Michigan. It's saying a lot when you trust your quarterback and most dynamic player's blindside to a rookie so Saffold is no ordinary freshman.
Unfortunately, the Hoosiers will once again be without his services this week and starting in his place for the second consecutive week is fifth-year senior Scott Anderson. Anderson started the final four games of 2005 at right tackle for the Hoosiers so he's not new to the game, but he will be up against a monumental challenge this week. If he thought blocking the Wolverines was tough then his task gets no easier this week. Purdue's Anthony Spencer is a sure-fire All-Big Ten first teamer as he leads the nation with 26.5 tackles for a loss. He makes a living in the offensive backfield and has 9.5 sacks thanks to his quickness of the edge. He will be the most dominant pass rusher Anderson has faced this season and will also be a key in stopping the Hoosiers all too-often horizontal running game.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Matchups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Two Days and Counting
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