Do you remember when Purdue came to Nippert on a beautiful fall Saturday back on August 31, 2013, during a white out when UC trounced Purdue 42-7? And then there was the 2015 NCAA Tournament when Troy Caupain hit the buzzer-beater layup that rolled around the rim for what felt like an eternity before UC triumphed. So now, this Saturday, September 10th at Noon EST on the Big Ten Network the Bearcats travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, to finish the home-and-home series. And Purdue head ball coach Darrell Hazell will be sitting on a scalding hot seat with his job on the line.
Last year the Boilermakers finished the season 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the Big 10, with their sole conference win over Nebraska. Their defense gave up 30 or more points on a whopping 9 occasions. It’s safe to say Saturday is going to be an offensive game to say the least, which is great for the young and inexperienced Bearcats offense still looking to find its identity. With recent history on its side against the Boilermakers, will UC escape before heading back to Clifton for 3 consecutive home games, including a marquee matchup against Houston (who just dominated Oklahoma)?
Like UC, Purdue has a new offensive coordinator. But even the Purdue defense is being overhauled with a new defensive coordinator. While Purdue returns a very experienced team, this is year one under new systems on both sides of the ball. One potential concern for the Bearcats is the Boilermakers receiver group, led by four seniors.
Against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in week 1 Purdue won 45-24, after going up 21-0 in the 1st quarter. QB David Blough went 25-43 for 245 yards. Markell Jones also had a special game, going for 145 yards on 24 carries. Six different players ran the ball for Purdue. Nine different players caught at least 1 pass. The Boilermakers also forced 3 picks. Purdue only had 1 penalty the whole game. However, they let Eastern Kentucky convert 50% of their 3rd downs.
With both UC and Purdue playing cupcakes at home week 1 we really do not know what to expect for this Big 10 – AAC matchup. We do know the Boilermakers will try to get their stud running back Jones going early against the untested UC defensive line. We also hope Mike Boone will see more action out of the backfield. With Tion Green fumbling in week 1 it is likely Boone will be the preferred back in this game. His explosiveness off of a screen or wheel route could be the difference in a tight game. Zac Taylor will likely have a conservative game plan for the 1st half, relying heavily on Boone and Green and running the ball.
You should also pay attention to second half scoring in this game. Last year Purdue was outscored in the 3rd and 4th quarters 234-153. Will Hayden Moore have similar success during this road test after coach Taylor opens up the playbook in the 2nd half?
Prediction: UC wins 35-28 in a back and forth, hard-hitting game. The Bearcats simply aren’t the same team on the road in recent years, but they will find a way to squeak out the dub.
By Andy Smith