Last weekend in Evanston, Illinois, on a balmy night, the Purdue Boilermakers solidified themselves as one of the most bi-polar teams in the country. After being defeated at home in embarrassing fashion by Toledo, the Boilermakers rolled into Northwestern full steam ahead and defeated the 25th ranked Wildcats, 20-17, in a game that had Boilermaker fans on the edge of their seats.
Purdue will be looking to further capitalize on this momentum during their homecoming matchup against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Rest assured that the Boilermaker Nation, (or should I say Maker nation) will be out in full force to watch the Boilermakers try to maintain their momentum in their Big Ten home opener.
The Gophers will be coming into Ross Ade stadium with a record of 1-5 and still have yet to win a game in Big Ten action. The Gophers' only win came against a weak Middle Tennessee team with a victory of 24-17. Although the record may seem like this is going to be an easy victory for the Boilermakers, the numbers sometimes lie.
Minnesota has been in a lot of their games earlier in the year, including a thriller against Northwestern and an entertaining game against USC. So although their record might indicate they are a push-over, Minnesota actually has a pretty decent team this season.
They are led by senior quarterback Adam Weber. Weber has had quite the season this year, compiling 1,448 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air this season. He is without a doubt one of the best pure passing quarterbacks in the Big Ten and even the nation.
Sticking with the offensive end of the ball, Minnesota has a decent one-two punch at the running back position consisting of junior backs Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge.
Bennett has ran for a total of 402 yards and two touchdowns, while Eskridge has ran for a total of 312 yards and two touchdowns. The two fine backs cause great problems for defenses with tackling problems (hint, hint Purdue).
The Gophers defense is the reason why they haven't been winning games this season. Their offense has been putting up decent numbers; the only problem is that the opposing offenses are putting up phenomenal numbers. They are ranked 102 in points against, with their opponents averaging 33 points a game.
The Boilermakers Keys to Success
For the Boilermakers to be successful, they will need Rob Henry to continue his great play as a freshman quarterback and grow up a bit in the process. Henry, who had 47 yards passing, compared to 132 rushing yards including a 67-yard run, must be able to see receivers in this game.
Although the receiving crew is quite depleted, there are still targets out there for him to throw to. Minnesota will be looking for Henry on the ground, so it will be tough for him to run like he did at Northwestern.
If Henry can develop his arm and decision-making during the remainder of the season and offseason, he will join the likes of Drew Brees, Bob Griese and Kyle Orton in the Cradle of Quarterbacks. Boilermakers should be excited about this young star in the making.
The running game will also be key to the Boilermakers in this game. With the addition of a game-breaking running quarterback—the running backs which have been depleted with injuries as well—have been left in the dark. It is key in this one for Keith Carlos to continue his stellar play. Minnesota will give him the perfect opportunity to gain some serious yards, along with Dierking and McBurse.
Defense is the main thing that is going to have to happen if Purdue expects to win this game. Minnesota's explosive offense is going to need to be stopped in order to ensure a Purdue victory.
Ryan Kerrigan is going to have to continue his role as the one-man wrecking crew, and sophomore tackle Kawann Short will need to continue with his stellar play.
This is going to be yet another close matchup for the Boilermakers and the Gophers alike. The edge would have to go to Purdue coming off the big win against Northwestern, but Minnesota will have a lot on the line as this is their last shot to try to salvage their season.
The Boilermakers, however, will come out on top. With a young defense just coming into its prime and a young quarterback looking to make a name for himself in Rob Henry, the Boilermakers will win this one on homecoming in West Lafayette in front of thousands of alumni.
Purdue 27, Minnesota 24