Your Spartans have had an extra week off to heal and prepare for a Purdue team whose injury problems make ours seem piddling by comparison. By my count, at least four different quarterbacks have played substantial time for Purdue this season. Hilariously, QB-turned-WR Justin Siller moved back under center and started the Michigan game for Purdue . . . and was injured on the first play. He won't be back this season. (Hilarious in the black comedy "how does this keep happening" way, not the "HA HA your guy got injured way," of course.) So, keep that in mind while digesting Purdue's stats -- particularly the offensive ones:
|Purdue (nat'l rank)||Michigan State (nat'l rank)|
|Passing offense||136.8 (115)||240.0 (43)|
|Pass efficiency||93.75 (118)||149.74 (23)|
|Rushing offense||168.3 (40)||176.8 (39)|
|Scoring offense||17.4 (113)||31.3 (40)|
|Total offense||305.1 (107)||416.8 (34)|
|Passing defense||215.7 (62)||208.9 (49)|
|Pass efficiency defense||139.53 (93)||115.45 (25)|
|Rushing defense||148.7 (54)||119.0 (18)|
|Scoring defense||27.6 (70)||18.8 (17)|
|Total defense||364.4 (57)||327.9 (28)|
|Turnover margin||-.6 (96)||+.6 (26)|
Yeesh. Purdue ranks in the triple-digits nationally in 4 of the 5 offensive categories we look at. The Boilers didn't score an offensive touchdown last week, and that was against the Michigan defense. Suffice to say, things are not going well in West Lafayette. Adam Rittenberg says that Rob Henry is likely to take most of the snaps for Purdue on Saturday. This season, Henry is completing 50.9% of his passes, has 3 touchdowns to go along with 4 interceptions, and his 96.72 passer rating ranks last among Big Ten primary quarterbacks. And yet, Henry is a far better option than his backup, true freshman Sean Robinson, who is completing only 48.4% of his passes, and has two touchdown passes and six interceptions. I kind of feel bad typing all of this; the injury hits have been absolutely brutal for Purdue this season, and have resulted in a number of really unprepared players having to see substantial game action.
The one area of major concern for MSU is certainly Purdue's proficiency at getting to the quarterback. The Boilers average 3.1 sacks per game, 5th best in the country. They're led by Ryan Kerrigan, who has assumed the Brandon Graham role of "spectacular player on a really bad team." His boxscore against Michigan last week was absolutely ludicrous: 10 tackles, 5 TFLs, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery. Kerrigan had a quiet game against MSU last season (only 2 tackles), but I wouldn't count on a similar performance this year. The guy should be the conference defensive player of the year. But even with Kerrigan and the excellent pass rush he leads, Purdue's pass defense is pretty mediocre, as reflected in the statistics above.
In any event, this is obviously a must-win for MSU to keep its BCS hopes alive; additionally, a victory would give the Spartans their first undefeated home record since 1999. We'll discuss the game in-depth throughout the next few days. But as always, I ask you: 70 hours from kickoff, how are you feeling about this game?
Note: Travis from Hammer and Rails is far more industrious than we are, and has already posted his game preview. Check it out here.