Purdue (3-5) vs. Minnesota (6-2)
Time: 2:30 P.M. CT, Saturday, November 5th
TV: BTN - Cory Provus (Play by Play), Glen Mason (Analyst) and Allison Hayes (Sideline)
Last week: Purdue lost to Penn State at home 62-24, and Minnnesota defeated Illinois on the road 40-17
All-time series: Minnesota 36-32-3 (Minnesota won 41-13 at Purdue in October of 2015)
Vegas betting line: Minnesota (-17)
Know Your Enemy: Five questions with Purdue beat writer Travis Miller
Five things you need to know
1. Minnesota welcomes Purdue to TCF Bank Stadium for a Saturday afternoon tilt. The Gophers are 36-32-3 (30-12-3 at home) all-time against Purdue and have won three straight games in the series. The three-game winning streak is the longest in the series for Minnesota, which it has accomplished six times. Last year, the Gophers scored 28 points in the third quarter to pull away from Purdue on the road and notch a 41-13 win. Minnesota was led by running back Shannon Brooks, who rushed 17 times for 176 yards and scored one touchdown. Quarterback Mitch Leidner also tossed two touchdowns to tight end Brandon Lingen.
2. Minnesota started Big Ten play with an 0-2 record, but has won three straight conference games to get to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the league. The Gophers last won three straight Big Ten games in 2014 when they beat Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue. Minnesota is looking for its fourth straight Big Ten win this year when it faces Purdue on Saturday. The Gophers last won four straight Big Ten games in 2013, when they beat Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. Head coach Tracy Claeys was the acting head coach in 2013 when Minnesota rattled off those four wins, as then-head coach Jerry Kill was dealing with some health issues. Prior to 2013, the last time Minnesota won four straight Big Ten games was in 1973 when it won at Northwestern, against Purdue, at Illinois and against Wisconsin.
3. Minnesota beat Illinois 40-17 to earn its sixth win of the season and become bowl eligible for the fifth straight season. The Gophers will play in their 19th bowl game at the end of the season. They snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak last season by beating Central Michigan 21-14 in the Quick Lane Bowl. Minnesota’s streak of five consecutive bowls (2012-present) is tied for the longest streak in program history. The Gophers also played in five straight bowl games from 2002-2006.
4. Minnesota is tied with Ohio State for the Big Ten lead (fourth in the nation) in turnover margin at +10. The Gophers have made seven interceptions this year and recovered 11 fumbles, while throwing five interceptions and losing three fumbles. The Gophers have capitalized on this good fortune as well, as they have scored 69 points off of turnovers, while allowing only 16. Last season, Minnesota scored only 37 points off of turnovers, while allowing 72.
5. Minnesota averages 32.1 points per game (ranks 48th in the nation and fifth in the Big Ten) and has scored at least 30 points in its six victories (scored 30 points in only two wins last season). The last time Minnesota scored 30 points or more in six games in one season was 2007. The Gopher offense has taken considerable strides under first-year offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. Minnesota averaged 22.5 points per game last season, which ranked 106th in the nation and 13th in the Big Ten. Minnesota’s current offense is its most productive since the team averaged 35.8 points in 12 games in 2005. In the previous five seasons, Minnesota’s best offense was in 2014, when it averaged 28.4 points to rank 66th (ranked 85th or lower in other four seasons before Johnson joined the staff).
Purdue players to watch
1) David Blough, quarterback: Signal caller David Blough leads the number one passing attack in the Big Ten to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. Blough during Big Ten is averaging 280 yards through the air, with more than two passing scores as well. He has 11:5 touchdown to interception ratio and has a completion percentage of 56%. This offense goes as Blough goes, and he's got to have to have a huge day against this Gopher secondary if Purdue is going to stay competitive. Blough spreads the love around as six Boilermakers have more than 23 catches, but none over 30.
2) DeAngelo Yancey, wide receiver: Yancey is number one in the Big Ten in yards per catch, as he only has 15 receptions during B1G play, but those catches are going for an average of 22.1 yards. He's Purdue's big play threat and Minnesota's going to have to keep an eye on him all day.
3) Evan Panfil, defensive end: Panfil leads the Boilermakers defense in tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (5), so Minnesota's defensive line has to make sure to not let him get going this week.
Keys to the game
1. Take advantage of a horrible defense: It really doesn't matter what statistic you look at for Purdue, they all tell you the same thing, and that's that this Boilermaker defense isn't very good at all. Five games is a pretty healthy sample size when we look specifically at Big Ten play, and Purdue is dead last in yards per play (7.2), touchdowns (27) and yards per game (487). Their rushing defense is dead last giving up 6.8 yards per carry and last in rushing touchdowns against them with 18. Seriously, this can't setup any better for Minnesota's rushing attack. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks have to be salivating looking at this match-up. It'll ultimately come down to how well this offensive line can put them into the second level, but none the less, I'm expecting hundred yard games for both, and a rushing score at least.
Purdue isn't very good against the pass as well. They're fifth in the Big Ten with passing yards against (188.2), but when you dig a little deeper, you see that they're second to last in yards per completion (8.1) and touchdowns against (9). Put that together with opponents have only thrown 116 times against them in five games (last in the B1G), and this is an opportunity for Mitch Leidner and company to get on track.
2. Stop David Blough and this Boilermaker passing offense: I really don't mean "completely shut down" as Blough has thrown the ball more than 50 times a game over his last three game, so he's probably going to pad the stats in garbage time. That being said, Blough is going to sling it around the yard, and Minnesota's passing defense is going to be tested. KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford will be playing this weekend, so you'd have to think that Minnesota's passing defense is going to be up to the opportunity.
Purdue legitimately cannot run the ball. They've run the ball less than any team in the Big Ten, but that's more due to the fact of the Boilermakers always playing with a negative game script, but on those 137 attempts, Purdue is only average 2.6 yards per carry, which is the worst in the Big Ten. Purdue's going to pass the ball a lot and Minnesota has to be ready for it.
3. Stay disciplined: We're going to keep this as the staple of the three keys until this corrects itself, but Minnesota's self-discipline is going to be tested this weekend.
For whatever reason (guessing lack of discipline in blowouts), opponents are extremely susceptible to penalities against Purdue as their opponents have committed 53 penalities for 469 yards (93.8 per game). That's tops in the Big Ten by 12 penalities and 131 yards. Comes out to around 10 penalities a game for 93.8 yards.
Minnesota is tied for first in the number penalities they've committed in Big Ten play, and fourth to last with 60.4 penalty yards a game, so Minnesota's got to remain solid.
Ryan Santoso and Emmit Carpenter also have to find some consistency in the punting and kickoff game. Santoso has been struggling from punt to punt, and Carpenter has six kickoffs out of bounds through eight games, so both need to find some consistent play there.
With the news that KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford will be playing this weekend, I feel pretty good about the Gophers defense knowing that in the last three Big Ten games those guys have played in, Minnesota's allowed 14, 10 and 17 points.
Some other stats to note:
- Minnesota is number one during Big Ten play in the turnover margin as they're +7, and Purdue is second to last with a -6.
- Purdue is the second to worst team in kickoff coverage as they're allowing 35.8 net yards per kickoff.
- The Boilermakers are allowing opponents to covert third downs at a 41% clip.
I don't expect this game to really be close when the game gets to the latter half of the third quarter as I believe Minnesota will be able to pull away behind their rushing attack and I'll say that the Gophers force three turnovers as well. Purdue gets 10 garbage time points to make this game closer than the box score makes it look.