Jeff Brohm did something right at Purdue last year, and writing this an Illinois alum that is something I cannot deny. After a 4 year hiatus from bowl games and atrocious recruiting under Darrell Hazell, Brohm took the Boilermakers to a win in the Foster Farms Bowl over Arizona to cap a 7-6 season. The Boilermakers also had their first winning season in 5 years and 2nd winning season in the last decade.
Purdue had 22 3-star recruits by national signing day, which was good for the 44th best class in the nation and 11th best class in the Big 10. The class was led by Rondale Moore, the best Wide Receiver out of the state of Kentucky.
The Boilermakers return both Elijah Sindelar and David Blough, who combined for 3,202 yards, 27 TDs and 11 interceptions. However, both QB’s are recovering from injuries that sidelined both players for at least 1 game last season. Sindelar played the last 4 games of the season with a torn ACL, something the world learned only after beating Arizona 38-35 in the Foster Farms Bowl. David Blough is recovering from a dislocated angle from the game against Illinois last year. Both are healthy and ready to play.
Purdue returns most of its weapons in the passing game. With 10 of the 12 players with at least 19 targets returning in the fall. Purdue also returns its entire running back core and an offensive line that has a combined 77 starts. The sheer amount of returning players on the Purdue offense will mean consistency for the Boilermakers, something that was missing in the days of Hazell.
The Purdue defense really carried the team last year. Brohm’s defense staff improved the Black and Gold’s defense in its first year, but needed to reset the entire defense after 2017. The defense returns only three players that had any effect on the defense in 2017, tackle Lorenzo Neal, linebacker Markus Bailey and linebacker Derrick Barnes. The young Boilermaker defense will have to man up fast with a season that includes a matchup with Northwestern on the first day of college football, Mizzou, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Luckily 4 of those 5 games will be played at Home.
Purdue has a favorable schedule this year, playing 2 of 3 Tier 3 teams at home. My Tier system is explained here. The Boilermakers should be able to win against Eastern Michigan, Boston College and Minnesota. I have to give Illinois the victory, given my alumni status and the fact that it is homecoming in Champaign. To make it back to the bowl game, Purdue will have to win 3 games between Northwestern, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana to make it back to a bowl game. If the defense can man up and keep the offense on the field, Purdue should be able to do that. Purdue should be able to go 6-6 or 7-5, something Boilermaker fans won’t mind.