Purdue football is officially trending after a 49-20 thrashing of the Ohio State University. In order to maintain the extraordinary momentum that comes with defeating a national championship contender, Purdue must continue its trajectory vs Michigan State, in East Lansing. That said, let’s take a quick glimpse into the past of Purdue football by observing the program’s three most widely-remembered wins since 2000.
“Brees to Morales”
October 28th 2000
No. 12 Ohio State 27 at No. 16 Purdue 3
October 17 2009
No. 7 Ohio State 18 at Purdue 26
Tyler Trent Game
October 20 2018
No. 2 Ohio State 20 at Purdue 49
*1st win vs top 2 team since 1984 vs Ohio State*
All three are against Ohio State and occurred nine years after the other. Hopefully Purdue has plenty of impressive wins in the coming years so that the next widely-remembered game isn’t a mid-October 2027 game vs the highly-ranked Buckeyes.
Purdue(4-3, 3-1) @ Michigan State(4-3, 2-2)
Saturday, October 27th, 11 AM
PURDUE vs Michigan State
David Blough Brian Lewerke
(4th in Big Ten) 66.5 comp.% > 56 comp.% (9th in Big Ten)
(2nd in Big Ten) 2073 yards > 1653 yards (5th in Big Ten)
(3rd most TD’s + Best ratio in Big Ten) 13 TD/ 2 Int > 8 TD/ 7 Int (11th most td’s + 12th best ratio)
(2nd in Big Ten) Passer Rating- 159.1 > 116.5- Passer Rating (11th in Big Ten)
(1st in Big Ten) Yards Per Attempt- 9.0 > 6.6 YPA (10th in Big Ten)
It was reasonable to doubt that David Blough was an elite quarterback before last week’s flawless performance vs the elitely-talented Buckeye defense, but it is now clear that he is one of the Big Ten’s best.
In 2016, Blough led the nation with 21 interceptions under head coach Darrell Hazell, but with 2nd-year head coach Jeff Brohm, Blough has grown to be more efficient in every facet of the game and that has shown in the stat sheet. This season, he has produced 22 passing touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 starts (2017- five starts for 9 TD/4 INT).
Lewerke has struggled this year having already matched his interception total from MSU’s 2017 campaign (2017- 20 TD/ 7 INT). However, he may not start, and in that case redshirt-freshman Rocky Lombardi would make his debut as a college football starter. Lombardi played the last drive of last week’s game vs Michigan because Lewerke had gone 5-for-25 passing. Lombardi got sacked twice and went 1-for-4 on that drive.
Even though Michigan has arguably the nation’s best defense, MSU’s quarterback play in that game proved that MSU’s weakness in this week’s game will be its signal-caller.
Purdue Michigan State
1st Rondale Moore WR 1st Felton Davis WR
57 rec., 728 yards, 12.8 YPC, 7 TD’s > 31 rec., 474 yards, 15.3 YPC, 4 TD’s
2nd Isaac Zico WR 2nd Cody White WR
22 rec., 449 yards, 20.4 YPC, 3 TD’s > 20 rec., 300 yards, 15 YPC, 2 TD’s
3rd Brycen Hopkins TE 3rd Darrell Stewart WR
22 rec., 389 yards, 17.7 YPC, 2 TD’s > 17 rec., 166 yards, 9.8 YPC, 0 TD’s
The Spartans lost leading-receiver Felton Davis for the season due to a torn achilles during last week’s game. Regardless, is there a better receiver in the nation than Purdue’s Rondale Moore? I think not.
Anyway, Purdue’s No. 4 receiver and No. 2 tight-end are outpacing MSU’s third-best wide receiver, so the choice is clearer than the Boilers’ advantage at quarterback.
Even if Cody White goes off for 200 yards on Saturday, he’ll likely be outdone by the Big Ten’s best receiver in Rondale Moore and the Big Ten’s leader in yards-per-catch in Isaac Zico. Did I mention that Hopkins is one of the Big Ten’s most effective tight ends?
Purdue Michigan State
1st D.J. Knox RB 1st Connor Heyward
668 yards, 6.5 YPC, 8 TD’s > 194 yards, 3.7 YPC, 3 TD’s
2nd Markell Jones RB 2nd La’Darius Jefferson
308 yards, 5.6 YPC, 2 TD’s > 189 yards, 3.9 YPC, 2 TD’s
I think it’s about time to say it – an offense that once had Kirk Cousins and Le’Veon Bell no longer exists. MSU has not had the luck to obtain NFL talent on the offensive side of the football when it comes to skill position players since its 2015 squad that featured Connor Cook, Aaron Burbridge, and L.J. Scott. The ladder, Scott, is a senior running back for the 2018 team.
He has been sidelined for a majority of the season due to an ankle injury, and expects to make a return at 100 percent on Saturday. If Scott stays true to his word, that could mean an 100-yard game capped off with a touchdown for the senior with over 2700 career yards and 25 touchdowns. That said, in three games this season, Scott has only ran for 128 yards on 40 carries, a career-low 3.2 YPC.
A balanced rushing attack by Purdue’s running backs would likely be more effective than MSU’s due to the defensive adjustments needed to slow down the superior Purdue passing attack.
Purdue ranks No. 6 in the Big Ten with an average of 5.3 YPC and 4th in touchdowns with 14; Michigan State ranks 13th in the Big Ten with an average of 3.2 YPC and 12th in touchdowns with 10.
Purdue’s 3rd leading rusher is superstar wide receiver Rondale Moore, but Tario Fuller and Alexander Horvath are also worth mentioning. Fuller was Purdue’s starter for it’s first three games last season (6.1 YPC) before an injury, but in those games was very productive – 142 yards vs Ohio and 124 vs Missouri.
Fuller has played a little bit this season, but it is suspected that his role has been severely diminished due to the superior play of Knox and Jones. That’s a good show of how confident Purdue is in their rushing attack if they’re benching Fuller. Horvath has replaced the power back role owned by Richie Worship, who is out indefinitely with an injury.
Purdue Michigan State
(5th in Big Ten) 18 Sacks > 16 Sacks (6th in Big Ten)
(3rd in Big Ten) 9 Interceptions = 9 Interceptions (3rd in Big Ten)
(14th in Big Ten) 0 Fumble Rec. < 3 Fumble Rec. (8th in Big Ten)
(8th in Big Ten) 26 Pass-Deflections < 28 Pass-Deflections (5th in Big Ten)
(9th in Big Ten) 5.4 TFL Per Game < 6.4 TFL’s Per Game (4th in Big Ten)
(5th in Big Ten) 33.7% 3rd down conv. > 34.6% 3rd down conv. (6th in Big Ten)
(10th in Big Ten) 69.29 Penalty YPG < 54.29 Penalty YPG (6th in Big Ten)
(14th in Big Ten) 296.4 Passing YPG < 275.7 Passing YPG (11th in Big Ten)
(4th in Big Ten) 136.7 Rushing YPG < 79.6 Rushing YPG (1st in Big Ten)
(1st in Big Ten) Red-Zone Defense > Red-Zone Defense (4th in Big Ten)
(6th in Big Ten) 22.7 Points-Allowed PG < 22.1 Points-Allowed PG (5th in Big Ten)
This breakdown is an accurate depiction of how similar these defenses have been this season. Purdue came into this season expecting little from its defense, and for the first three weeks, as a unit, it was clearly a major weakness to the team’s success. After the team scored 37 points in a loss to Missouri, Defensive coordinator Nick Holt committed to a more aggressive defensive scheme. Since, Purdue is 4-0 and has held Power Five programs Boston College (13), Nebraska (28), Illinois (7), and Ohio State (20) to a combined 68 points – 17 per game, which would be good for a top 15 scoring defense in the nation.
Michigan State, on the other hand, has had a more consistent defense. In five of its seven games this season, MSU’s defense has allowed between 16 and 21 points to the opposing offense (29 vs Northwestern & 31 vs Utah State). Additionally, Michigan State must rely heavily on its run-stopping defense in this game, and they’re the most stern in the Big Ten against the run, so that will be a huge key to success in Saturday’s game.
MSU’s passing defense is a concern for the Spartans, given that Blough is arguably the best QB they’ve had to face to date. Even if MSU shuts down Purdue’s rushing attack, it would seem likely that Blough throws for 300 yards, purely based on the fact that the average QB has posted 275 against this defense.
Purdue’s defense is one of two in the Big Ten to allow a touchdown less than 50 percent of the time when an opposing offense enters the redzone – the other is Northwestern, who beat MSU by 10 in East Lansing, holding the Spartans to four field goals on five redzone trips.
With the addition of a backup QB, MSU would likely struggle to score touchdowns. It’ll need a lot of touchdowns to keep up with a Purdue offense which has scored 42+ points in three straight games.
However, I’ll give a slight advantage to MSU’s defense in this game due to it’s consistency. If Purdue’s offense is slowed down to the pace MSU likes, due to shutting down the run, there’ll be more questions about Purdue’s defense than MSU’s given that Purdue has lost all three of its games this season that were decided by under 14 points.
It’s hard to expect either of these two teams pulling away from the other on Saturday. Purdue should come into East Lansing with uber-confidence, but not being able to establish itself early in the running game will prohibit the Boilers from ever being truly comfortable. Given that MSU is banged up at the positions of No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 receiver, it’s hard to imagine the Spartans taking advantage of the Big Ten’s last place passing defense.
But even if they do, that might not be enough, because Heisman candidate Dwayne Haskins accumulated 470 passing yards vs Purdue last week, and yet the Buckeyes had only six points to show for it entering the 4th quarter due to Purdue’s top-ranked redzone defense.
I’ll pick the Boilers to make enough big plays, since they’re the best in the Big Ten at such, and end up victorious over Sparty on Saturday.
PURDUE MICHIGAN STATE
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