One Day and Counting

There's only one day left until Indiana and Purdue battle for the Old Oaken Bucket and you know what that means…it's time for "one bold prediction". However, if the Indiana football team has taught us anything this year it's to expect the unexpected, making the prediction business pretty daunting. Which Hoosier squad will show up in West Lafayette?

There's only one day until left until Indiana and Purdue battle for the Old Oaken Bucket and you know what that means…it's time for "one bold prediction". However, if the Indiana football team has taught us anything this year it's to expect the unexpected, making the prediction business pretty daunting. Which Hoosier squad will show up in West Lafayette? Will it be the team that fought back to shock Iowa and absolutely dismantled Michigan State? Or will it be the team that looked helpless at Minnesota? No one really knows, but with the coveted Bucket and bowl implications on the line, you can be assured that the action will be fast and furious.

Saturday's game could turn into a track meet. Purdue will field the Big Ten's most potent offense, a unit that averages nearly 290 yards of offense and 26.7 points per game. With strong-armed quarterback Curtis Painter and fleet-footed receiver Dorien Bryant pacing the attack the Boilers can score in a hurry. But so can the Hoosiers thanks to the emergence of quarterback Kellen Lewis and the continued strong play of receiver James Hardy. With both defenses surrendering over 26 points per game this year odds are there will be a high-scoring shootout this Saturday.

But don't be certain of it. Odds are both defenses will give their best efforts of the season this year with so much pride and passion involved in the rivalry. It might still not be enough to stop two high-octane offenses, but the hitting and tackling will be at bone-crunching levels Saturday.

The Hoosiers will be looking to get Lewis and Hardy on the same page early. Look for Indiana to try and open up their ground game with the pass. If they can hit on some deep routes, then that should provide some room for speedy Marcus Thigpen to make his presence felt. However, the Hoosiers will have to constantly keep an eye on Boiler defensive end Anthony Spencer. The Indianapolis product leads the nation in tackles for a loss and will be in the backfield early and often on Saturday. Lewis will have to be at his elusive best to find the time he needs to deliver the ball.

Defensively, Indiana wants to shut down the option game of Purdue by keeping Painter contained. The sophomore had two touchdown runs last week against Illinois and is a deceptively dangerous weapon on the ground. Purdue will look to establish their ground game and then start feasting on an IU secondary that loves to creep into the box. Indiana can't afford to let the play-action pass continue to plague them and will have their hands full against Purdue's talented receivers. Bryant is the main threat, but they can't ignore tight end Dustin Keller over the middle, one of Painter's favorite targets.

So can the defenses step up their play and rise to the challenge? Or will this be a day of offenses gone wild?

Indiana's last road trip was a complete disaster, but that was the program's first chance to clinch a bowl invite in 13 years. This week the Hoosiers won't be worrying about bowl games, because it's all about the Bucket. The Indiana-Purdue game is a bowl game all unto itself and of equal importance in this state. Saturday putting an I or P link on the Bucket is the only thing that matters. Both teams will be ready to play. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, Purdue has looked like the better team lately and that's why I have to pick them in a nail-biter in their own backyard.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Purdue 27 Indiana 24

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

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