Purdue missed a few stops during a grueling 2020 campaign. Only playing six games, rivalry games canceled twice, and an injury to one of the most explosive players in school history put a damper on a season that started off with a promising upset win over the Hawkeyes.
Injuries to Rondale Moore and COVID took their toll, and a season that seemed like it never hit its groove ended with a 2-4 record. However, this year brings many questions, and much excitement, to an exasperated Jeff Brohm and a potentially explosive offensive group.
Unlike IU, Purdue has some questions at the quarterback position, mostly, who is the starter? Aidan O’Connell and Jack Plummer are continuing to duel for the spot at the top of the depth chart, and seem to be warding off competition from transfers for the first-team nod. The winner will, regardless, be set up for some major success, as the armory is loaded for the Boilers.
Rondale Moore might have gotten more attention during his career, but he has a dead ringer on this year’s squad in the form of David Bell. The Warren Central standout enters another year for the Boilers, and he is ready to break out. Much like his predecessor, Bell has explosive moments of grandeur.
With a consistent QB, that could turn him into the stud receiver he is meant to be. He is not the only stud though, as Milton Wright continues to grow and become an even more solid receiver. They make a one-two punch very few in the Big Ten can recover from. Zach Horvath returns to the backfield to try and jump-start an offense with lackadaisical rushing.
That is one area where Purdue’s track has been anything but straight, as the team finished last in rushing yards per game for two years straight now. However, this fortune may change, as a veteran offensive line will seek to dominate the interior lineman of the conference. Those are not the only veterans returning to the Boilers though.
It is hard to stop a train; it is even harder to stop George Karlaftis and DeMarcus Mitchell. Karlaftis had 9.5 sacks last year, and that number will hopefully only grow from this point. Those two provide the bookends for a highly ferocious pass rush, and the Big Ten has no shortage of playmakers who need to be stopped within 3 seconds of a play. As for the secondary, Cory Trice provides his excellence in coverage, while Cam Allen feasts on interceptions.
This defensive unit is loaded with veterans eager to prove that a new defensive scheme can help revolutionize the Purdue defense, and veteran play will be hugely important going forward.
The Purdue schedule is equal parts boom and bust. Ohio State and Notre Dame seem to be games that you wish would go your way, but there are limitations. Beyond those, the season starts with the Oregon State Beavers, picked last in the PAC-12 North. Followed by the Uconn Huskies, who are not exactly a powerhouse. After the Notre Dame game, the conference season begins with Illinois. From there, the Big Ten West schedule begins. Normally, that can be pretty tough. But this year, many games in that division seem up for grabs. The Boilers could put on some steam and shock some opponents in the process. Hopefully, they might get toe-to-toe with the equally explosive offense of their in-state neighbors this year.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: 6-6, QUICKLANE BOWL VS. BALL STATE