The School: Purdue University
Record: 0-1 after losing to Nevada despite holding a 14-point lead with seven minutes left and a seven-point lead with one minute to go. This win probability chart might as well be the Neilsen ratings when mid-90s episodes of Friends gave way to reruns of The Single Guy.
The Boilermakers lost on 56-yard field goal as time expired, made possible only by Jeff Brohm’s decision to ice the Wolfpack’s freshman kicker and give him a free practice try:
I am honestly shocked this happened to Purdue and not Vanderbilt. Saturday’s game is going to end on a six fumble, 95-second play that ends in a safety.
Ranking: Purdue is unranked in both polls and ranked 62nd in Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings. Vandy is 72nd after only getting beat by 24 in its home opener.
AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH WHY DOES HE HAVE A HAMMER JESUS CHRIST
Location: West Lafayette, IN. A transplanted Wisconsin town surrounded by cornfields and wind turbines in every direction for 30 miles. The closet major city to Lafayette is Kokomo. Like the Beach Boys song, it sucks on every non-ironic level. Unlike the Beach Boys song, it has never been graced by John Stamos.
In my two years living in Indianapolis the only times I’d ever heard Kokomo referenced was for its strip clubs. The prices there — for beers, dances, food — are all suspiciously low. This is, in fact, a pre-emptive apology for the upcoming week of pink, itchy eyes in your future.
Other that that, it’s a nice familiar backdrop for fans who may be taking the trip up Saturday. Purdue is basically the Vandy campus if you replaced all the trees with statues of astronauts. Ross-Ade Stadium is shitty and uninspiring in all the same ways Vanderbilt Stadium is; an ode to Cold War-era concrete and the football culture concept of “eh, good enough.”
Except they’ve got a really big drum on one end where we typically have a neverending deluge of opposing fans.
Conference: The Big Ten. When you’re based in the midwest, you find a way to bend rampant obesity into a positive. Half the offensive lines in the conference outweigh a fully-stocked crabbing boat. Purdue’s front line averages 300+ pounds per guy and they still get bullied once the non-conference schedule ends.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 2-0. The last time Vandy visited West Lafayette resulted in a 3-0 win. After seeing Riley Neal throw approximately 20 passes that whizzed past the heads of his offensive linemen to a target three yards downfield, I feel this is a reasonable goal for the Commodores.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0. Somehow, playing another black-and-gold clad school with solid academics that’s often overlooked in its own conference was lost on us after World War II. Scheduling a home-and-home in the Darrell Hazell era was found money and we BLEW IT.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: A 26-0 win in Nashville. The next time Purdue scores against Vandy will be the first. And that’ll probably happen sooner rather than later because...
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Rondale White is a goddamn monster with a history of eating up nerd schools.
Purdue will give him the ball in every aspect of their offense because he’s basically Kalija Lipscomb, Jared Pinkney, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn all in one.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Markus Bailey led the Boilermakers in sacks each of the past two seasons and had 10 tackles against Nevada. He’s probably going to be an issue, especially if Vandy keeps shrugging off open receivers downfield in favor of panicking inside a rapidly-collapsing pocket.
Riley Neal just completely blanked a wide open Jared Pinkney on third down thanks to moderate pressure and oh no pic.twitter.com/SiIV1NyOcz— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) August 31, 2019
Matchup to Watch: Riley Neal vs. Deuce Wallace. Someone’s gotta quarterback this team to respectability. Nevada threw the ball 51 times in Purdue’s season opener without turning it over. Quarterback Carson Strong threw for 167 yards in the final 12 minutes to cap a two-touchdown comeback. If neither of Vandy’s QBs can do anything against that then the only thing we’re gonna enjoy about this season is all the Tennessee schadenfreude.
Interesting Fact: Amelia Earhart was a visiting professor at Purdue. She decided to fake her own death rather than continue living in Indiana. She currently posts in our comments under the name “parlagi.”
Bonus Fact: Picture any townie bar you’ve ever been to in a state that has neither mountains nor ocean coastline. Congratulations! You’ve effectively been to West Lafayette!
If Purdue wins, we: cancel our Independence Bowl plans. Maybe next year, Shreveport.