Purdue hoping to spoil Indiana's bowl hopes in Old Oaken Bucket Game
Who: Indiana vs. Purdue
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, Purdue
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Indiana -7
Matchup to watch: IU tailbacks vs. Jake Replogle
I understand that I’m making an assumption here. Just to make things easier, let’s assume that Howard returns from his knee injury and plays on Saturday. If he does, he’ll have one of the B1G’s most menacing defenders to deal with. Nobody on the Purdue defense blows up plays in the backfield like Replogle, who was a big reason why Northwestern and Iowa didn’t run all over the Boilers the last two weeks. Howard has been as matchup-proof a back as there is in the B1G, but if he isn’t at 100 percent, that could change. Keep in mind that Replogle was the only one of the four Replogle brothers not to play at Indiana. He could have a little bit of extra motivation to end IU’s bowl hopes.
Thing I’m excited to see: Nate Sudfeld in mid-season form
You can tell why NFL scouts are high on Sudfeld. Performances like Saturday are why Sudfeld will be playing on Sunday. He won’t face defenses like Maryland and Purdue at the next level, but there are throws that Sudfeld makes that will translate no matter who he’s playing against. He’s developed a nice groove with Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones, both of whom could be nightmare matchups for the Boilers. With the exception of Jake Rudock, no quarterback in the conference is playing better football than Sudfeld right now. If Darrell Hazell can’t find a creative way to generate some pressure against Sudfeld, he could easily dice up the Purdue secondary.
Number to remember: 3
We’re assuming that David Blough won’t be fully recovered from the concussion he suffered against Iowa and that Austin Appleby will get the start under center for the Boilers. You can bet Appleby remembers the three interceptions he tossed last year that prevented Purdue from winning the Bucket Game. The likes of Chase Dutra and Rashard Fant are definitely capable of being beat, but they’re also capable of capitalizing on mistakes. Appleby can’t afford to get greedy and try to match Sudfeld if he gets rolling early. Markell Jones needs to have a prominent role in this one, and if Appleby turns the ball over again, those chances go down.
Prediction: Indiana 41, Purdue 38
I don’t see the defenses shining on Saturday. In a rivalry game, I also don’t see this one turning into a rout. Even though these teams have just one B1G win apiece, both have shown significant signs of improvement in the last two weeks. This one will have a back-and-forth feel, but ultimately, Purdue commits a costly turnover in the final minutes. IU earns its first bowl berth in eight years, takes its third straight Bucket Game for the first time since 1947 and Kevin Wilson is back in Bloomington.