Scott A. Keisler | November 24, 2018
The Indiana Hoosiers will battle the Purdue Boilermakers at 11pm (EST) today at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 and the winner will gain both the Old Oaken Bucket and Bowl eligibility.
Both teams enter the contest at 5-6 overall. Indiana is 2-6 in the Big Ten East while Purdue is 4-4 in the Big Ten West.
Indiana runs a Spread Offense lead by Sophomore Quarterback Peyton Ramsey. Ramsey has passed for 2,530 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season while rushing for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ramsey ranks fourth in the Big Ten in Total Offense.
True Freshman Running Back Stevie Scott eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season last week by pounding the Michigan Wolverine’s stingy defense for 139 yards and a touchdown. Michigan’s rush defense ranks 14th nationally.
Scott ranks second nationally among true freshmen in rushing yards (1,033), 100-yard games (5) and carries (208), and third in rushing touchdowns (9).
At wide receiver Indiana doesn’t have a single individual that jumps off the page statistically, but they go at least six deep at the position. Junior Donavan Hale leads the unit with six touchdown grabs while fifth year Senior Luke Timian leads the team at just under 50 receiving yards per game. Senior J-Shun Harris II is a reliable possession receiver and is also a dangerous punt returner if allowed to get his hands on the ball.
The Hoosier Offensive Line is as healthy as it’s been and they enter Saturday’s Bucket match-up playing better. Tight End Peyton Hendershot has been effective in spurts this season and may be due for a big game.
The Indiana Offense will square off against a Purdue Defense that is known for changing things up from week to week. Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord said of the Boilermaker defense,
They have a very multiple defense and they do a lot of different things. It’s just ongoing change all the time so it’s a tough defense to get ready for.
The Boilers have given up yardage – at 437.4 yards per game Purdue ranks 13th in the Big Ten. However, their red zone defense ranks fourth in the Big Ten so they tighten up when it counts.
Purdue will miss one of their best defensive players in Senior Safety Jacob Thieneman. Senior Linebacker Markus Bailey leads the Boilers with 97 total tackles, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten.
The Indiana defense started out strong but has struggled in league play. They will have a tough task today as Purdue’s explosive offense ranks 23rd nationally. Unlike past Hoosier teams the defense hasn’t been totally inept – they have done enough to keep Indiana in games and have even played well in spots.
Head Coach Tom Allen is a defensive guy and he has built this defense on the core values of takeaways, tackling and effort. The Hoosiers definitely play hard and they have done very well in the turnover department. Indiana leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the country with 25 takeaways.
Turnovers are always huge x-factor in a football game – Indiana comes in with a turnover margin of +5 while Purdue enters today at -3.
During Allen’s first two years with the IU defense the Hoosiers were the most improved nationally in total defense and passing defense, the sixth-most improved in third down defense and the ninth-most improved in points per game allowed.
The Boilermaker Offense definitely presents some unique challenges. When asked, Coach Allen said,
[They are] a complete offense, they’ve scored points against about everybody and they’ve done a great job. I think that just like any team you play you have to try and find a way to take away the things they do really well and that’s tough to do because they have so many weapons and can stress you a lot of different ways.
Senior Quarterback David Blough ranks second in the Big Ten in Passing Yards Per Game (291.1) and third in Passing Effiency (149.8). He takes care of the ball and has a great Touchdown to Interception ratio (22 / 8).
Of Blough Allen said,
Blough is just a really good player. He’s played at a really high level this season. His play has elevated them.
As good as Blough has been he is not their scariest weapon. True Freshman Rondale Moore leads the Big Ten in Receptions per Game (8.3) and Touchdowns (10), and is second in Receiving Yards per Game (93.0) and All-Purpose Yards (172.2). The 93 yards per game is good for 17th nationally. Moore runs a 4.3 40 yard dash and squats 600 pounds. Commenting on Moore Coach Allen said,
He’s really really fast. Speed’s a good thing. Everybody wants it.
He’s really strong, it shows up film. He’s hard to tackle, he breaks a lot of tackles.
He just runs hard and they get him the ball a lot and they should. He’s just a very difficult young man to scheme for. They try to get him the ball in different creative ways and on special teams as well. So he’s a tremendously talented young man that will be a big challenge for our whole football team to defend.
Running Back D.J. Knox has rushed for 826 yards and 8 Touchdowns plus the Boilers have two big Tight Ends who can hurt defenses. It will be tough to completely shut this offense down – creating turnovers and limiting Purdue to field goals in the red zone may be key for the Hoosiers, says Allen.
We have to play our very best and takeaways are huge. We need to play great red zone defense and force them to kick field goals. We also need to tackle really well, fly to the football and live out the core values of our defense which are takeaways, tackling and effort.
Indiana Wins If…
Getting off to a good start may be a key for the Hoosiers. Despite impressive wins verses Ohio State, Iowa and Boston College the Boilers come in reeling a bit. They were embarrassed in Minnesota 41-10 two weeks ago and couldn’t hold on to a 27-13 fourth quarter lead at home against Wisconsin last week. There are also persisting rumors that Head Coach Jeff Brohm may be on his way out for the Louisville job.
If Indiana pounces early Purdue could buckle. Remember this is a Purdue team that lost to Eastern Michigan in Week 2.
Rondale Moore will probably have a good game. If the Hoosiers can keep him from having a great game that will go a long way toward helping their chances. Indiana would also do well not to give the Purdue Offense anything cheap through busted coverages or missed tackles. If they make Purdue earn everything they get Indiana’s offense should be able to keep up.
Look for the Hoosiers to establish the run with Stevie Scott and to take selective shots down field, so says OC DeBord,
We want to be balanced and yet we also feel like we’ve got some guys on the outside right now that are playing very well that we want to to take shots like we’ve been doing.
And lastly the Hoosiers need to prevent Purdue from making any big plays in the return game and take care of the football. If Indiana does all of these things they can have success against a solid Purdue team.
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