You've heard it from The Red Cedar Message Board, fans in Spartan Stadium, and even your girlfriend who barely follows the team.
"Notre Dame/Wisconsin/Michigan/Illinois/Northwestern/Iowa/Minnesota IS THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON!
Well Spartan fans I'm here to clear it all up.....Purdue is the biggest game of the season. Why you ask? Because we are playing a team that in my opinion reminds me of.......well....us.
Heartbreaking 4th quarter loss to ND? Check
Loss to a MAC school? Correct
Close loss to a possible BCS-Bowl headed program? Yep
Lets face it their personnel might be a little different from ours but Purdue is very Michigan State. Both of our defenses decide to give up points in bunches and our WR have a habit of dropping balls. Hell we both share a 24-14 victory over Illinois!
OK that logic might be a little shaky but lets look at couple keys to the game on Saturday:
1. CREATIVITY: Yes Purdue has given up a ton of yards on the ground this year.....and I fully expect us to establish the run early and often. I'm praying Larry Caper has shaken the cobwebs and is fully ready to go. I expect a heavy dose of Caper/Baker with a sprinkling of Ashton Leggett in the 2nd half and goal-line situations. That being said....lets see some CREATIVITY. Keshawn Martin has been coming on like gangbusters lately so can we please find creative ways to GET HIM THE BALL. I'd also like to see our WRs step up big time this week and get timely position grabs from BJ Cunningham and downfield passes to Blair White.
2. Don't get discouraged on D: Lets face it right now....Purdue is going to score some points on us. If we win the toss I don't know who I would rather see take the field first. On one hand you have the potential of the Wisconsin game where the offense came out and ran twice and had one short pass during the shortest opening drive in Spartan history (baseless accusation). Or the Minnesota debacle where they air-raided us to an opening two minute 14 point lead. We've fought back in every game so far this year and it is up to our D to step up and help carry this team.
3. DANTONIO: As pointed out by people all across the internet...please don't get arrogant and put in Keith Nichol. I don't know what you promised him to get him here and play backup to Kirk Cousins but please don't put Keith Nichol in the game unless Kirk Cousins can't walk. Remember the Dantonio we all know and love? The one who called for an onside kick @ ND to get us back in the game....the one who called for a Fake FG against Indiana in 2007. That's the Mark Dantonio I want to see on Saturday. What do we have to lose on Saturday? It is time to pull out all the stops and throw in everything but the kitchen sink....because if Danny Hope proved anything last Saturday sometimes on the road you need to take a gamble to give your team a spark.
Purdue Keys: (what to watch out for)
1. TRICK PLAYS/ONSIDE KICKS/SWINGING GATE ETC: Ok...I don't expect to see a swinging gate on Saturday but I'm not putting anything past Danny Hope at this point. Please be on the lookout for anything....this is Purdue's Senior Day so I expect them to do anything to get the win. Please see the Onside Kick vs. Michigan or the HB pass from the Oregon game or the....
2. WATCH OUT KERRIGAN! If anybody has watched any Purdue football this year (which I assume is pretty much nobody outside of Purdue or Hoosier fans) you will know that Kerrigan is a beast. I'm sure Spartan Fans will remember him from such plays as "sack Forcier on the biggest play of the game" during the 2-point conversion.
3. CAPITALIZE ON TOs: Purdue is going to turn the football over. Joey Elliot has 13 INTs alone this season and has thrown at least 2 picks in 4 games this season. Purdue has also had a FG attempt blocked and various other miscues that have resulted in opponents TDs. We have had our fair share of TOs and I expect Baker to put at least one ball on the ground on Saturday. We win the TO battle we win this game. (I know...duh)
Lets face it...home field advantage this season in the Big 10 has been about as overrated as that stupid indie band Grizzly Bear. That being said....Purdue will be playing at home in a stadium that has been a house of horrors for Michigan State. I hate that damn train and my ears will be bleeding all day Saturday hearing the "BOILER UP TOOT TOOT" cheer all game long.
I like Purdue and its fans...my trip to Ross Ade Stadium in 2001 was a sad one as TJ Duckett was held to just 19 yards on 11 carries. I expect our stable of RBs to fare better but ultimately we will fall short.
Hopefully I'm wrong but I'm going to go with Purdue: 31 MSU: 28