Purdue and Ohio State enter Saturday's game in two very diametrically opposed places, and yet you wouldn't guess that from what's dominating Buckeye message boards/comment sections and sports talk radio this week. Ohio State finds themselves double digit favorites again, and even with a defense that advance metrics have far closer to average than bad, but don't tell it to the sky is falling advocates in Central Ohio.
So what about Purdue? Is their sky actually falling? To get clarity on the matter, we welcome in expert Purdue scribe Travis Miller of Hammer & Rails. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @hammerandrails.
Purdue's last two games have... well, they haven't exactly gone according to form. What can the Boilermakers do to get back to that level of play they displayed in South Bend September 8th?
I have no idea what happened. This team actually looked dangerous for most of the Notre Dame game and I am convinced we win if Robert Marve isn't yanked from the game in the third quarter. The run defense was as stout as it has ever been and the pass defense flustered them. Our defensive line had a hell of a game that day and it needs to happen again. Simply put, they were awful the last two weeks.
The defensive line managed to get no pressure on quarterbacks and was shoved around before Montee Ball and Denard Robinson sprinted past them. Basically, everything good they did the first few weeks of the season they have stopped doing. That has left the secondary out on an island and the linebackers have looked completely lost. It's really inexplicable, and has me asking if maybe Notre Dame's offense is just that bad.
What's the pulse on Danny Hope? I personally wasn't crazy about the hire since he hadn't accomplished a ton at EKU and it seemed more about cost efficiency/familiarity than quality. If Purdue only manages to beat the have nots of the Big Ten, will Purdue be in the market for new leadership in 2013?
They need to be, Back-to-back complete no-shows in marquee, winnable games at home is inexcusable. It's not so much that Purdue lost. Michigan and Wisconsin are both good teams that are far from easy victories. It is the fact that Purdue had the talent to win, but looked completely unprepared and got run out of its own stadium. The offense did next to nothing after the first drive against Wisconsin and the defense was pretty bad both days.
Worse yet, Hope keeps insisting that we're just inches away. Many of his quotes make it sound like he isn't even seeing what's happening on the field. He insists that Caleb TerBush is the most efficient quarterback when Marve has consistently moved the offense more even with an injured knee. Three punts and two extra points have been blocked without address protection schemes. He insists that missed tackles were the issue on Saturday when the defense utterly confused on the slightly misdirection.
His excuses are getting absurd, and most people turned on him after Saturday. I think the only thing that save him in most people's eyes is a stunning upset in Columbus.
Robert Marve is basically the walking wounded at this point. With none of the three Purdue quarterbacks really looking the part at this point, are there any sentiments towards committing to just one guy and if so who would that be?
I have been saying we need to stick with one guy for ages, even last year. If I had to pick a guy it would be Marve. When he came in against Michigan he at least moved the offense. He didn't have much of a chance against Wisconsin, but before the knee injury he was clearly better than TerBush and afterwords he has done more in far fewer chances.
Of course, the knee is the major issue there. I feel for the kid because it finally looked like he was going to be able to play to his potential, then he got jerked around in the Notre Dame game before hurting his knee again. It simply breaks my heart. If he can't go I would give the reigns to Rob Henry. Henry can do more with his feet and he's going to be here next year while TerBush and Marve won't be. You might as well prepare him now.
The rushing defense for Purdue has been particularly vulnerable of late. What adjustments do the Boilermakers need to make to keep Braxton Miller and/or Carlos Hyde from setting all kinds of records on Saturday?
Simple things, such as actually tackling a guy instead of diving at his feet or bouncing off of a spin move. Purdue has done it before. Robinson didn't do a whole lot last year against us and we were okay againstMiller, so I know we have the talent to do it. As bad as they have looked the last two weeks without any kind of halftime adjustments (look at my brutal breakdown of our 3rd quarters here) I honestly have zero confidence. If we can't stop Denard we can't stop a guy who has played better than him at the same position.
And finally, while Ross-Ade Stadium must be built on some kind of Indian burial ground, Purdue hasn't had a ton of success in Columbus since 1988. What sequence of events have to transpire for Purdue to get off the snide and ruin Ohio State's bid at a perfect season?
The Purdue of the Notre Dame game is going to have to show up. They are going to have to get after Braxton Miller early and be on him every single play. Even that means nothing if the offense can start moving the football and scoring points again. The offensive line has not opened holes for Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt, who are good running backs if they have room to run. I'd almost like to see us run your style of offense with Rob Henry as our Miller at this point because it is at least something different and what we've been doing hasn't been working.
Defensively, we have to stop the run, something we haven't done the last two weeks in the least. I know we're capable. Ask Terrelle Pryor in 2009 or Miller last year. Unfortunately, it would be a major shock if it actually happened.