Calhoun, Spartan line look to rattle Purdue freshman
Who: Purdue vs. No. 2 Michigan State
When: 12 p.m. ET
Where: Spartan Stadium, Michigan State
Spread: Michigan State -22
Matchup to watch: Shilique Calhoun vs. David Blough
Congrats, freshman. You’ve earned your first career B1G start. All you have to do is avoid one of the most talented pass-rushers in the country. The Purdue quarterback will have to be aware of Calhoun on the blind side, which is obviously easier said than done. Just ask Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush about that. Blough was sacked three times in his starting debut last week against a Bowling Green front that doesn’t have near the weapons Calhoun and Co. present. An uneasy Blough in the pocket changes Purdue’s game-plan dramatically, and would prevent him from fully exploiting the Spartans’ depleted secondary.
Thing I’m excited to see: Unleashed MSU passing game
I’ve gotten the feeling that the Spartans have held back a little bit the last couple weeks. Connor Cook had seven throws in the first half against CMU. Outside of the first pass of the game, which was a 42-yard diving catch from Macgarrett Kings, we didn’t see Cook try and go over the top very much. Perhaps that was an effort not to expose him to taking some shots in the pocket, especially once Jack Conklin went down. Whether or not Conklin plays, we should still see the Spartans try and attack more with emerging weapon Aaron Burbridge. Against the Boilers’ 100th-ranked pass defense, expect Cook to try and take more chances downfield.
Number to remember: 0-16
That’s Purdue’s record against ranked teams on the road since 2003. Purdue actually beat No. 20 Wake Forest and No. 14 Wisconsin that year. But that’s irrelevant now. This team hasn’t traveled well in the Darrell Hazell era. Only one B1G road win to speak of and in all but three of those games, they’ve allowed 30 points. For Purdue to end that 12-year streak, it has to start by winning the turnover battle. It’s unrealistic to think Hazell’s group will be able to string together stop after stop. Perhaps stripping some young MSU tailbacks is the Boilers’ best shot at slowing down the MSU offense.
Prediction: Michigan State 45, Purdue 21
Yes, I’m predicting the Spartans will finally cover. I think Cook finally has the big yardage game we’ve all been waiting for and MSU jumps out to a big early lead. I do think Blough is able to connect on a deep score or two with DeAngelo Yancey, but I don’t think Purdue is able to establish balance against that Spartan defense. A one-dimensional offense is exactly what they should feast on with their bevy of pass-rushers. Sparty rolls and keeps its No. 2 ranking with ease.