PURDUE: Two Days and Counting

Bloomington - After a season full of disappointing setbacks, Indiana and Purdue look to finish things off with a win in the Old Oaken Bucket Game. Hoosier Nation looks at two of the Hoosiers' biggest concerns in the contest...

62-10 - Does last year's 62-10 beating at the hands of the Boilermakers serve as motivation – or does it instead represent cause for trepidation? Ask the Hoosier players, and they say that last season's debacle provides a little extra juice for the showdown with their biggest rival.

"You like to think that you play hard every week and prepare hard every week, but I'd say this one is double everything else," said Bryan Payton. "The fact it's a rivalry game, and from the past it doesn't seem that maybe they have as much respect for us. We want to come out and beat them pretty good."

"Everyone on this team wants to win this game really bad," adds quarterback Ben Chappell. "We have to just go out and cut it loose."

We don't have to talk about the game last year because anyone who was there remembers it," said IU Coach Bill Lynch.

It's obvious that Indiana would like to go out and turn the tables on Purdue this Saturday. But the Hoosiers wanted to end last year's disappointing campaign on a positive note as well, and a 3-8 Purdue team did anything and everything that it wanted against Indiana on its way to the second-highest point total of the Joe Tiller era.

Getting off to a good start would be a good way for Lynch's team to build some confidence that it can in fact reverse the result from last season. A year ago Indiana was down 7-0 three minutes into the game, 14-0 six minutes in, and 24-0 at the end of the opening quarter. The floodgates were officially open.

The good news for Indiana is that it's been a fast starting team – the Hoosiers have scored on their opening possession in six out of 11 games, while their opponents have done that only three times. The last IU foe to score on its opening drive was Virginia, and Indiana has scored first in nine of 11 games. Finishing things off has been a different story, but Indiana should have an excellent chance of jumping out ahead early on and developing some confidence.

Joey Elliott is playing as well as he has all season - After a dismal 5-of-23, 59-yard performance in a 37-0 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 31, Purdue quarterback Joey Elliott is now playing his best football of the season. In the last two weeks he's completed 67-of-94 passes for 640 yards and four touchdowns. His play has coincided with a couple of dominating performances from Purdue's offense – Coach Danny Hope's team has averaged 37.5 points and 509.0 yards of total offense. They've also controlled the ball for an average of nearly 38 minutes per game, and they've converted 21-of-37 third downs.

Elliott has some very productive wideouts to throw to – led by the Big Ten's leading wide receiver Keith Smith – and he is also working behind an offensive line that has given up only 16 sacks all season. That ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 42nd nationally, but when one considers Purdue has thrown the ball a league-high 420 times, the number is more impressive.

All this adds up to making Purdue arguably the most explosive offense Indiana will face all season, and Indiana's defense remains at far less than 100 percent. The Hoosiers continue to play with one cornerback that saw his first action of the season in the last four weeks (Adrian Burks), and another that continues to play with an elbow brace (Donnell Jones). There are depth issues at a lot of defensive positions for the Hoosiers, and if IU is unable to get off the field defensively it could begin to wear down in the second half.

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

Peegs.com Top Stories