It is rivalry week in college football and with all of the big matchups around the country, there is one that has been the biggest in the state of Indiana for many years. The Indiana Hoosiers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) and the Purdue Boilermakers (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten) are set to face off in the Battle of The Old Oaken Bucket Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette.
Indiana comes into the contest off back-to-back losses against Penn State and Michigan while the Boilermakers are fresh off a defeat to the Wisconsin Badgers. Both teams have gone different paths this season as the Hoosiers are having one of their best seasons in a long time, while Purdue is struggling to get across the finish line.
The in-state rivalry dates backs to 1891 with the next installment being the 122nd meeting between the two schools. Purdue leads the all-time series 74-41-6 and Saturday’s contest will be the 95th official “Bucket” game with the Boilermakers having won the last two matchups against the Hoosiers.
Indiana is coming into the ball game having already clinched a bowl berth and faces a Purdue squad that has battled injuries all season long. However, it is a rivalry game for a reason and all the records and stats get thrown out the door when it comes to these two teams.
How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus Purdue Boilermakers
|What||Week 14: Indiana Hoosiers versus Purdue Boilermakers|
|When||12 p.m. ET / Saturday November 30, 2019|
|Where||Ross Ade Stadium – West Lafayette, Ind.|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
|Spread||Indiana -7 / Over-Under 57|
Meet the Boilermakers
Purdue is led by head coach Jeff Brohm who is in his third season with the Boilermakers and has posted a 17-20 record with the team. Prior to coming to West Lafayette, Brohm coached at Western Kentucky for three seasons and has a 47-30 overall record.
Injuries have plagued the Boilers this season and they have been derailed because of them. Brohm’s squad lost both their first and second string quarterbacks in Elijah Sindelar and Jack Plummer as well as star wide receiver Rondale Moore who gave Indiana troubles last season with 12 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Key Offensive Players
With the quarterback room dwindling down, Purdue has relied on sophomore Aidan O’Connell to lead a Boilermaker offense that averages 24.6 points and 375.4 yards per game. In five games this season, O’Connell has completed over 65 percent of his passes for 693 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. The Lincolnshire, IL. native does not run the ball very much rushing 12 times on the season for negative three yards.
O’Connell’s main target will be freshman wide receiver David Bell. The former Warren Central standout has 77 catches this season for 899 yards and 6 touchdowns. After Moore’s injury, Bell picked up the production in the receiving department and showed why he was a top prospect in the state. After lackluster performances by Indiana’s defense the pass two weeks, look for Bell to use his speed and big play ability to give the Hoosiers trouble.
Senior tight end Brycen Hopkins is the second leading receiver for the Boilermakers with 53 receptions for 688 yards and five touchdowns. Hopkins gives O’Connell another threatening target as the senior stands at 6-5 and has size at 245 pounds.
Key Defensive Players
On the defensive side of the ball, Purdue is led linebacker Ben Holt, son of defensive coordinator Nick Holt. The senior has 104 total tackles on the season which almost doubles the next leading man, Derrick Barnes who has 53.
Cornerback Derrick Mackey leads the team with three interceptions on the season with six pass deflections.
George Karlaftis is responsible for one-third of the unit’s sack total which currently stands at 18. The freshman defensive end has racked up six sacks during his first season in West Lafayette.
Junior place kicker, J.D. Dellinger is perfect on the season in extra point attempts going 32-for-32. He has only missed two field goals on the season and has been perfect inside of 40 yards. The longest made attempt of his career is 53 yards made earlier this year.
Week 14: What to watch for against Purdue
1. Battle of true freshmen
The most exciting matchup of the afternoon may just be the battle between true freshmen Tiawan Mullen and Bell. It is known that Indiana runs a lot of man coverage in the defensive backfield and Mullen has developed into a quality corner early on in his career. Bell’s speed lets him create separation when he is on the attack and Mullen has proven himself to not back down from any challenge. Look for this to be a very competitive matchup on Saturday.
2. Indiana’s rushing attack against the Boiler defense
Indiana’s star running back Stevie Scott went out last week against Michigan due to injury. With his status up in the air, look for backups Ronnie Walker and Sampson James to be given more production in the backfield to keep the Hoosier offense two-dimensional. Purdue’s rush defense has struggled giving up 193.2 yards per game this season. If Indiana can succeed with or without Scott, offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer may be able to give quarterback Peyton Ramsey less attempts this week to keep him fresh heading into the bowl game.
3. Jeff Brohm’s offensive creativity
Saturday’s contest is the Boilermakers season as they are not eligible for post season play. Watch out for Brohm to keep the playbook wide open to find anyway to give the Boilers the edge. They defeated Nebraska off a trick play to Bell at the goal line and threw a double pass last week against the Badgers. It is a rivalry game and anything is possible when the bucket is on the line.
4. Veteran kickers being called upon
If the game is close down the wire, both teams have veteran kickers who can deliver. Purdue’s Dellinger came in clutch to beat Northwestern and Indiana’s Logan Justus has been reliable all season. Justus is perfect with 14 made field goals and just one missed extra point. Seven out of the last 12 bucket games have finished with a margin of one score so look for these two kickers to be a factor if needed.
Battle of the Old Oaken Bucket Predictions
24-21 Indiana. Indiana wins a close one in hostile territory to bring the Old Oaken Bucket back to Bloomington. The Hoosiers use the ground and pound game to expose Purdue’s weaknesses on defense. However, David Bell keeps the Boilermakers in the game with his offensive firepower which forces Indiana kicker Logan Justus to seal the game with a late field goal.Andrew Rude
45-38 Indiana. The Hoosiers and Boilermakers engage in a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair. Expect Purdue to expose Indiana’s secondary like Michigan did last week, and you better believe Jeff Brohm will use a number of trick plays against Indiana. However, Whop Philyor’s return will help IU easily move the ball against a porous Boilermaker defense. Look out for seniors Nick Westbrook and Donavan Hale to have good games as well for Indiana’s eighth regular season win.Nithin Krishnan
38-28 Indiana. With Whop Philyor potentially back for the Hoosiers, Indiana has a chance to close out strong against a Purdue team that has been scarred with a number of key injuries. Both teams are playing with house money and really have nothing to lose given that this is the last game of the regular season. After settling for two years in West Lafayette, the Old Oaken Bucket will return back to Bloomington Saturday night.Rob Jiang
42-24 Indiana. The Hoosiers have faced two of the conference’s best the last two weeks in Penn State and Michigan. Look for Indiana to return to their entertaining brand of football against a much less talented opponent in Purdue. In particular, expect IU’s offense to spend its post-Thanksgiving weekend feasting on Purdue’s lackluster defense. Indiana should score early and often to once again reach the 30 point threshold, which they have in all but three games this season. Rivalry games are never easy, but Indiana should still come out on top in a comfortable fashion.Mike Pudlow
Featured Image: Mike Carter/ USA Today Sports