PURDUE: One Day and Counting

Despite everything else surrounding Saturday's Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, there's one thing that will ultimately determine the winner in this weekend's 111th meeting between the two programs. Today HoosierNation.com concludes its day-by-day preview of the match-up with our prediction for the game's outcome…

Trying to figure out how this year's Old Oaken Bucket battle is going to go isn't too hard after all.

Sure, there are plenty of variables to take into account. It's Joe Tiller's final game on the Purdue sidelines, which is bound to make it even more emotional for everyone involved. It's also the final games for Purdue senior quarterback Curtis Painter and tailback Kory Sheet, both of whom have established themselves as all-time Purdue greats at their respective positions.

On the other sideline, there's the uncertainty of who will be under center for the Hoosiers, Kellen Lewis or Ben Chappell. On the defensive side, the Hoosiers still have questions about the availability of some key starters such as linebacker Will Patterson and Richard Council.

While all are relevant points, ultimately this game should come down to one statistic – turnovers.

No statistical category has been more crippling to Purdue's season that turnovers. The Boilermakers are a -6 in turnover margin this season, ranking them ninth in the conference. But their problems have been even more glaring than the 17 takeaways vs. 23 giveaways. It's what has happened after the turnovers.

Purdue has scored points on only seven drives following a takeaway, while its opponents have scored points following 14 of its 23 takeaways. The end result has been a 71-36 edge for Purdue's opponents in "points off turnovers" – to use a basketball term. In games against Oregon, Northwestern and Michigan State – all losses – Purdue's defense forced 11 turnovers, but the offense turned those takeaways into only 19 points.

Indiana, meanwhile, has been better than their record would indicate in the turnover area. The Hoosiers are a +4 this season, ranking them fourth in the conference and in the top third of the league for a second straight season. The Hoosiers have been especially adept at forcing fumbles, recovering a league-high 16 this season.

Turnovers were especially big in IU's lone Big Ten win against Northwestern, as it intercepted the Wildcats twice and recovered three fumbles on its way to a 5-0 edge in turnovers. That more than anything keyed the Hoosiers' 21-19 win. On the season, Indiana is +7 in turnovers in its three wins (9-2) and -3 in the eight losses (13-16).

So when the dust settles in West Lafayette, look to turnovers to find out who won and why.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Indiana 26, Purdue 24

What's coming up:
On Monday - Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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