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The Only Questions: Q&A with Purdue

Get to know the Boilermakers

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

Time for Spartan Nation to move on from a grueling loss against the Wolverines and turn their attention to the Boilermakers — who just crushed the Buckeyes in a HUGE upset. Purdue couldn’t be flying any higher, which is something Michigan State fans should be worried about because they will be a tough out Saturday afternoon.

Before we get to far I’d like to introduce Travis Miller, the editor-in-chief of Hammer and Rails — where you can read anything your heart desires when it comes to the Boilermakers.

He’s here to tell us all we need to know about Purdue before the Spartans kickoff.

Purdue started slow (losing three straight games) and have now won four in a row —obviously the standout win against Ohio State is big time. Where do you see the Boilermakers going from here?

It kind of feels like the sky is the limit. Ohio State is the highest rated team on our schedule and we walloped them by 4 touchdowns. This team has grown so much since the loss to Eastern Michigan that it is astounding. With a win this weekend we would be 4-1 in the conference, a game from bowl eligibility, and we would have a real shot at winning the Big Ten West. We would also be 3-0 on the road in league play and our only road games left would be against Minnesota and Indiana.

I think to have any legit chance at winning the West we would have to go 4-1 down the stretch with Michigan State being the game that we can most afford to lose. Both Iowa and Wisconsin still need to come to West Lafayette and our defense seems to fare well against one dimensional teams. Win those home games and win at Minnesota and Indiana and we’re likely looking at tiebreakers for a trip to Indy.

Realistically, I am looking at a 3-2 finish, AS long as we beat Minnesota and Indiana that would assure a bowl game. Getting one more would give us a chance at topping last season’s record, which was a tall order after losing to EMU.

The Boilermakers have outscored their opponents 167-68 over their last four contests. How has the defense managed to be so successful in that span?

They have done a good job of being tough in the red zone. We held Ohio State to six points on 5 red zone trips. We’re giving up touchdowns less than half the time an opponent gets inside the 20. The passing game has given up a wealth of yards, but they have gotten stingy inside the 20 with last week being a prime example. It was really the difference in the game.

The run defense has improved greatly as well. Northwestern and Missouri ran all day on us. Nebraska got a lot of yards, but played catch up much of the second half. Illinois just fell apart and had no passing game aside from a single play. We’ve been able to stop the run and hold teams out of the end zone.

Ohio State v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Jeff Brohm has Purdue playing like a Big Ten West contender at the exact right time. What were your predictions for the Boilermakers prior to the season? And where does the fan base stand with this team currently?

I have been all over the place. I really thought 8-9 wins was possible, then we started 0-3. The EMU game felt like a disaster and I questioned if we would win a game after that. Against Missouri there was no defense played on either side, but ever since then things have been clicking. The defense was great against Boston College and David Blough has played the best football of his career.

Then, of course, there was Saturday night. I am not going to lie: It was our biggest home win in decades, probably since the Brees-to-Morales game in 2000. When Rondale Moore scored his second TD to ice the game Ross-Ade collectively lost its shit in a way I have not seen in a very long time. When you have been as bad as we were under Hazell it just feels incredible to do what we did Saturday night. I think we’re walking on air, but we’re also cautious. If we pull off another road win at MSU the West could be ours for the taking as long as we hold serve at home.

Spartan Nation was more than happy to participate in the Cancer Sucks cheer. For those who might not know, tell our readers about Tyler Trent and what he’s going through.

Tyler is an incredible young man. Here is what we wrote on him a month ago. He has been on our radar for over a year and we even jokingly offered him a job when he was working for the Exponent.

What stands out to me is his humility. He doesn’t lament his lot in life. Instead, he has used his platform to raise awareness and serve others. One very small aspect of his story really stuck with me. He had made a comment about how Riley Children’s Hospital here in Indy was using his tumor to research future cures. He mentioned how he was blown away with how the researchers work to use his tumor as a learning case for others. That stood out because he knows his time may be limited, but he was still happy to be a human guinea pig because it might mean someone else may not have to go through what he is going through.

It has been amazing to see his story reach so many. I deeply appreciate you guys bringing the “Cancer Sucks” cheer to Spartan Stadium too. It means a lot.

Michigan State is 7-0 against Purdue since Mark Dantonio became their head coach in 2007. Do you see his streak finally coming to an end? What would the Boilermakers have to do to make this a reality?

It would certainly be nice, as we had some really close calls in there. I remember Danny hope blowing a 4th quarter lead up there during the streak and a couple pick sixes deciding games at Ross-Ade. The way I figure it though, if Hazell could keep it close with some of your best teams, surely Brohm can do better.

I really think this game serves us best if we can get a lead early. I know Lewerke is banged up and your offense has struggled greatly of late. I feel like if we can get out to an early lead it will be tough for you to come back. I am also excited that one of the nation’s best passing games in ours is going against a pass defense rated in the 100s.

David Blough has had a a pretty good season so far this year. He has the ability to tear the Spartan secondary apart if he chooses too (much like Clayton Thorson from Northwestern). Do you see him coming into Spartan Stadium and commanding a successful offense?

He has been great since Elijah Sindelar was hurt in practice before Missouri and he got the job full time. He went out and broke the school record for passing yards in that game and has been playing really well since. He has cut down on his interceptions dramatically and he is spreading the ball around to all fields. He has opened things up with some shots downfield and having Rondale Moore as a “Just how in the hell do you stop that guy?” guy helps a ton.

Honestly, if Blough keeps playing like this we’re going to be a tough out for anyone.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Prediction time: Final score? Who wins? Why?

I think it hinges on just how beat up Michigan State is offensively. I really like what our offense is doing right now and even if you hold us on the ground (and I know you have an excellent run defense) I love what Blough has done through the air. I think Purdue is playing the best football it has played in many year right now and we break the streak 31-20.