Photo courtesy of SBNation-
In their final test of the season, Indiana returns home to Bloomington on Thanksgiving weekend to play their biggest rival for right to keep the Old Oaken Bucket. Last season ended in a difficult upset win for the Hoosiers, and it wonâ€™t be any easier this time around.
The Opponent: Purdue Boilermakers
While Indiana has traditionally struggled more than Purdue as a football program, the Boilers havenâ€™t been great recently either. In Joe Tillerâ€™s final season and in Danny Hopeâ€™s first two, Purdue has failed to qualify for postseason play. After a loss to Iowa last weekend, the Boilermakers are behind the eight ball again and need a win in Memorial Stadium in order to qualify for a bowl game. There have been rumblings that Hope needs a win on Saturday to save his job, and even though he claims not to be thinking about it, that fact may give his players a little extra motivation.
Purdue is relatively balanced as an offensive unit, and focuses on running to set up the pass. First-year starter Caleb TerBush got the chance to start after Rob Henry tore his ACL before the season and has done a serviceable job as a caretaker. Miami transfer Robert Marve has also seen the field and though he hasnâ€™t been quite as effective, he was the man who keyed Purdueâ€™s win over Ohio State two weeks ago, so itâ€™s hard to blame Hope for giving him opportunities.
The Boilermakers lean pretty heavily on the ground game and while multiple backs have had chances to carry the ball, Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers have borne much of the load, combining for 11 touchdowns on the ground. Bolden hasnâ€™t appeared as explosive this season as he did before suffering an ACL injury last year, but has combined with Shavers to give Purdue a ground presence the coaching staff has really wanted.
The defense hasnâ€™t been outstanding, but has been solid with at least one consistent performer at every level of their defense. Kawaan Short is one of the more disruptive defensive tackles in the conference and won defensive player of the week honors for his performance against Ohio State. Joe Holland, a senior linebacker, anchors the middle of the defense and Ricardo Allen has had a solid season as a cornerback and leader of the secondary. Together, the three playmakers make the Purdue defense more dangerous than it may appear.
X-Factor: Antavian Edison and O.J Ross
The Boiler passing game has carried its share of the load with the help of two big play receivers â€“ Edison and Ross. Edison is the most explosive playmaker on the team and Ross comes pretty close. The Hoosier secondary has tried every week to limit big plays, and has failed more often than not. Edison and Ross will be the latest to test the back of the IU defense and if past weeks have been an indication, big days from them will make it tough to beat Purdue.
Purdue Cumulative Statistics
Total Offense- 359 ypg (195 passing, 164 rushing)
Scoring Offense- 25.5 ppg
Total Defense- 391.6 ypg (207.9 passing, 183.7 rushing)
Scoring Defense- 26.5 ppg
Purdue Individual Leaders
Passing- Caleb TerBush: 61.5% completion rate, 1612 yards, 11 TDs, 6 INTs
Robert Marve: 54.2% completion rate, 533 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing- Ralph Bolden: 134 carries, 620 yards, 5 TDs
Akeem Shavers: 89 carries, 370 yards, 6 TDs
Caleb TerBush: 72 carries, 178 yards, 1 TD
Receiving- Antavian Edison: 40 catches, 511 yards, 2 TDs
Justin Siller: 40 catches, 387 yards, 1 TD
O.J Ross: 33 catches, 356 yards, 3 TDs
Gary Bush: 21 catches, 197 yards, 2 TDs
Stephen Houston had his worst game in B1G play last week against Michigan State and will be looking for a bounce-back effort this week. As mentioned last week, Houston is already enjoying the best conference season for a Hoosier running back since 2003 and will get a chance to continue that against a Purdue defense giving up nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. At 6â€™1, 230 pounds, Houston is bigger than many B1G linebackers and if he runs hard, he could play an important role in wearing down the defense.
A receiving corps that began this year as embarrassingly deep ends the 2011 campaign limping to the finish line. Damarlo Belcher has been dismissed and Duwyce Wilson and Cody Latimer are done for the season with injuries. Only Kofi Hughes (a limited contributor last year), Dre Muhammad (a former walk-on), Jamonne Chester (seeing his first real game action this year) and a couple of freshmen â€“ Jay McCants and Shane Wynn â€“ remain. Despite a lack of talent (perceived or otherwise), this unit has worked hard all season to gain experience that should prove valuable next year. Whether that helps this week will be fascinating to watch.
Indianaâ€™s defense has been the least experienced and least productive unit in the conference this season and will have their hands full against the Boilermakers. Lawrence Barnett and Greg Heban will need to be effective in coverage against Purdueâ€™s outside wide receivers to give the front four time to get pressure. Defending the run may be even more important and senior linebackers Leon Beckum and Jeff Thomas will play a big role in that.
X-Factor- Tre Roberson
Roberson had his worst outing of the year last week against Michigan State and while thatâ€™s not all that surprising (considering the Spartansâ€™ top conference defensive ranking) itâ€™ll be interesting to see how he responds to adversity. Purdue hasnâ€™t been much better against the pass than Indiana has this season, so Roberson could have a chance to get on track if he can avoid meeting the Boilersâ€™ Kawaan Short. Roberson is the single most crucial cog in the Indiana offense, both on the ground and through the air, and if he can perform the way he has the majority of the year the Hoosiers should have a decent shot at a win.
Hoosier Cumulative Statistics-
Total Offense- 361 ypg (204.2 passing, 156.8 rushing)
Scoring Offense- 21.1 ppg
Total Defense- 454.2 ypg (214.9 passing, 239.3 rushing)
Scoring Defense- 37.7 ppg
Hoosier Individual Leaders
Passing- Ed Wright-Baker: 59.5% completion rate, 1029 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs
Tre Roberson: 55.2% completion rate, 790 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing- Stephen Houston: 144 carries, 673 yards, 7 TDs
Tre Roberson: 92 carries, 349 yards, 2 TDs
Dâ€™Angelo Roberts: 57 carries, 252 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving- Kofi Hughes: 30 catches, 472 yards, 3 TDs
Dre Muhammad: 25 catches, 234 yards, 0 TDs
Jamonne Chester: 19 catches, 231 yards, 0 TDs
Shane Wynn: 15 catches, 169 yards, 0 TDs
Prediction- 31-28 Purdue
Indiana plays their most inspired game since early in the year, only to have defensive mistakes cost them again. The Hoosier offense redeems itself for last week but the defense canâ€™t quite get it done. The Bucket returns to West Lafayette.