Breaking it down: Boilers to take on nation's leading passer
Who: Bowling Green vs. Purdue
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, Purdue
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Bowling Green -2
Matchup to watch: Matt Johnson vs. Purdue secondary
The nation’s leading passer faces a Purdue secondary that’s been torched in recent weeks. Yikes. Johnson has thrown for at least 400 yards in all three games, including a 491-yard, six-touchdown masterpiece at Maryland. That’s what he did to William Likely and Sean Davis, two of the nation’s better cover corners. Purdue gets the unfortunate pleasure of trying to contain the senior signal-caller. Frankie Williams and Leroy Clark have their work cut out against Johnson. Purdue will everything it can to keep the Bowling Green offense off the field and out of rhythm.
Thing I’m excited for: David Blough’s debut
Death, taxes and a Purdue quarterback switch. After his Week 2 dominance, I didn’t expect to see Austin Appleby regress so much, but he did. As a result, Purdue’s redshirt freshman will get his first collegiate start. “Texas tough,” as he’s been called, will be necessary in a game that could turn into a shootout. Blough cannot afford to get into an arms race with Johnson and the Bowling Green offense. If he does, he’ll make freshman mistakes and do exactly what Appleby was benched for. Darrell Hazell will not want to put the game in the freshman’s hands. Expect a heavy dose of Markell Jones and D.J. Knox to get the Boiler offense going and more importantly, keep Johnson off the field.
Number to remember: 20
Hazell said that’s how many missed tackles his team had against Virginia Tech last week. That explains why they allowed 51 points at home to a mediocre offense. You can bet that part of the game was emphasized this week to prepare for the Falcons. That can’t happen against an offense like Bowling Green’s. This defense has been put in some tough spots because of the turnover struggles, but that’s not an excuse for failing to execute a basic fundamental. Ironically, Purdue has been among the nation’s best in tackles for loss. That mentality needs to be applied in the open field, or else it’ll be another long day in West Lafayette.
Prediction: Bowling Green 42, Purdue 35
To be an underdog to a 1-2 MAC school at home is saying something…about the MAC school. This could be another monster day for Johnson and Roger Lewis. Bowling Green might not need its two-headed rushing attack much to move the chains. Purdue will. The Boilers will stay within a score or two simply because of that. Unfortunately for Purdue, this one has all the makings of another close-but-no-cigar loss and ultimately, a 1-3 non-conference start.