Oregon makes its first road trip this Saturday to West Lafayette, Indiana for an ABC/ESPN 3:30 p.m. EDT televised game with the Purdue Boilermakers.
The Ducks are currently ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 14 by the USA/Today Coaches Poll going into the game at Ross-Ade Stadium. This will be the third game of the 2008 season for Oregon and the only the second for Purdue.
Oregon began their season opening at home against their PAC-10 rival Washington Huskies with a rousing win of 44-10. This past weekend their Autzen Stadium non-conference win of 66-24 over the Utah State Aggies set records for total scoring, total offense and stadium attendance.
The Boilermakers similarly racked up the points with their 42-10 romping of Northern Colorado.
While both teams won non-conference games they should have won, and in the end did so convincingly, there are some differences.
Oregon was up 38 points at the half and for most of the second half used it's second and third string players to finish the day with a total of 688 yards of offense. Purdue on the other hand, led by just 21-0 after three quarters against a Football Championship Subdivision team that went 1-11 last season.
When the Ducks meet the Boilermakers, this won't be Oregon playing Utah State, or Purdue playing Northern Colorado. Rather this is PAC-10 versus Big Ten, with two nationally storied programs facing off against each other.
Each team has deep roots going back to the early beginnings of college football. Each has a long history of playing against the other conference and there is also a long history between the two teams. Oregon football dates from 1893, while the Boilermakers trace their roots to before 1891.
Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti is in his 14th year and has a record of 108-52, while Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller is retiring at the end of this season. Tiller has a total of 17 years as Head Coach with this being his 12th at Purdue.
Currently, his record is 123-84-1 overall, and 51-37 in Big Ten Conference games. With the win this past Saturday over Northern Colorado, Tiller tied Jack Mollenkopf 84 wins, for the most wins in Boilermaker history.
Both Oregon and Purdue have first rate football facilities and sophisticated recruiting programs. Oregon has the Moshofsky Training Center, while Purdue has the Mollenkopf Training Center.
The Ducks play their home games in the newly remodeled Autzen Stadium before about 60,000 fans, while Purdue's fans are treated to the just remodeled Ross-Ade Stadium. Phase one of a three phase project was completed several years ago, that reduced the seating in the stadium to about 62,000. This will go up to 80,000 at the completion of Phase three.
TEAMS AND PLAYERS
The Ducks Offense uses the no huddle, West Coast spread offense very effectively.
First String QB Nate Costa is out with a season ending injury. Sophomore Justin Roper has stepped and proven to be formidable with both a strong arm and nimble legs at 6'6" tall and 205 pounds.
Duck back up QB's Jeremiah Masoli and Chris Harper showed promise as signal callers against Washington and Utah State, each doing a credible job of moving the O-line down the field with a combination of passing and rushing for TD's.
Purdue plays a Midwest version of the spread offense and changes up their attacks with passing and rushing in no particular pattern. It is similar to an Oregon offense but, lacks the explosive team speed that the Ducks display.
The Boilermakers are well positioned Red Shirt Senior QB Curtis Painter. Against Northern Colorado, Painter passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Purdue's O-line returned all of their starters from 2007 and is experienced on their side of the ball. Questions remain about the Boilermaker defense that continues to gain confidence as a young first string.
Oregon's defense is one of the best in the NCAA and is extremely effective at shutting down an offense. This could prove to be critical in the game Saturday.
This may well prove to be one the best match ups of the 2008 season for the two teams as well as for the fans tuning in. It promises to be an entertaining game that will likely be close down to the last half of the fourth quarter.
In the end, I believe Oregon's faster team speed and no-nonsense scrambling defense will be too much for the Boilermakers. As the sun sets on Indiana look for Oregon to take a 38-24 win.