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Get to Know the Opponent: Purdue

The Boilermakers throw the ball a lot and Rondale Moore might be the most explosive player in the Big Ten.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

MSU will look to rebound from their rivalry loss when Purdue rolls into East Lansing this weekend. The Boilers are fresh off an upset win over Ohio State at home last weekend. What looked like a win on the calendar before the season looks much more difficult now. Here’s what you need to know heading into Saturday.

School: Purdue University

Nickname: Boilermakers

Conference: Big Ten (West Division)

Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (2nd season)

Record: 4-3 (3-1 in Big Ten)

Mascot: Purdue Pete

All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 36-26-3 (MSU has won seven in a row)

Jeff Brohm has done a great job in his second season as head coach and has his team playing confident after the win over Ohio State. The Big Ten West is wide open with three teams at 3-1, including Purdue, and Northwestern at 4-1. The Boilers have their sights set higher than just making a bowl this year, and this could be a big game for them in term of whether or not they can contend for the West division.

The Spartans are riding a seven game winning streak against Purdue, the longest by either team in the series history. Mark Dantonio has never lost to the Boilermakers, and will look to keep that streak alive this weekend. This is the first meeting between the two teams since 2015 when MSU, ranked second in the country at the time, squeaked out a 24-21 victory in East Lansing.

Team Stats

Purdue has had a pretty good offense this year. They rank 31st nationally in scoring averaging 35.7 points per game. They have also been racking up the yards, about 514 per game, which is 10th in the country.

Most of this has come through the air. Purdue ranks sixth in the country in passing yards per game, averaging 337.6 yards per contest. They are 19th in yards per attempt at 8.6 and 22nd in passer rating. The Boilers have 16 passing touchdowns against five interceptions.

As you might expect these totals are reached because Purdue throws the ball a lot. They are 14th in the country in attempts per game at a little over 39 passes per game. Despite the high volume of pass attempts, the Boilers are only allowing two sacks per game, which is about middle of the road nationally.

On the ground Purdue is 64th in the country at 176.71 yards per game. However, they are 21st in yards per attempt at 5.29 yards per carry and have scored 14 touchdowns. They just don’t run the ball very often, only about 33.43 times per game, which is 116th in the country.

On defense Purdue is giving up 22.7 points per game, which is 38th nationally, one spot behind MSU. This is a pretty impressive feat considering they are 103rd in total yards allowed per game giving up over 433 yards on average.

You might assume they have gotten a lot of turnovers but that isn’t really the case. They have forced nine turnovers in seven games, all of them interceptions.

The answer appears to be red zone defense. Purdue is ninth in the country at opponent red zone touchdown percentage at 42.31 percent. They are 14th in opponent red zone scoring overall at 73.07 percent. So they have clamped down pretty well when backed up on defense.

The Boilers can be beaten through the air. They are fourth from the bottom in total pass defense giving up 296.4 yards per game. They are much better in average per attempt, ranking 68th allowing 7.2 yards per pass. Despite the large yardage total, they have only given up nine touchdowns through the air, and picked off their opponents nine times.

The Purdue defense has been better against the run where they rank 42nd allowing 136.71 yards per game. They are slightly worse when it comes to yards per attempt at 53rd overall, allowing an average carry of 3.86 yards. They have also yielded 10 touchdowns on the ground.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Key Players

Senior quarterback David Blough (that name again is David Blough), has been getting it done for the Boilermakers offense. Blough is completing 66.5% of his passes, averaging nine yards per attempt, and has 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He is averaging a little under 300 yards per game passing. He’s not a huge threat to run, but he does have 38 rushes on the season and a couple touchdowns on the ground as well.

The main man on the ground is D.J. Knox. The senior tailback leads the team in attempts, yards, and touchdowns. He is averaging close to 100 yards per game rushing and just about 6.5 yards per carry. He has also hauled in 10 passes for 71 yards out of the backfield.

The Boilermakers biggest playmaker is freshman wideout Rondale Moore. He has been a big play threat all season and the numbers show it. He’s got 57 receptions for 728 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging more than 100 yards per game and 12.77 yards per catch. He’s also got 168 yards rushing on 11 carries, an average of 14.82 yards per attempt. Oh and he’s averaging almost 20 yards per kick return and over seven yards per punt return.

Moore is Purdue’s best player and they do everything they can to make sure he touches the ball as many times as possible throughout the game. All told he is averaging about 13 catches/carries/return attempts each game.

On defense sophomore linebacker Cornel Jones leads the team in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (3.5). He ranks fifth on the team in total tackles.

Junior Markus Bailey leads the team with 58 tackles and is second with six tackles for loss, and tied with Jones for the team lead with 3.5 sacks. He also has an interception that he took back for a touchdown.

Freshman defensive back Kenneth Major has a team leading three interceptions.