Head Coach: Darrell Hazell
2015 Record: 2-10
2015 Bowl: N/A
2016 Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 8 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +600000
Odds to win 2016 Big Ten Championship: +50000
Regular Season over/under: over 4.5 (+130), under 4.5 (-150)
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The Purdue Boilermakers won just two games last season, a Week 2 victory over lowly Indiana State and its lone Big Ten win, a 55-45 victory over Nebraska. Its offense lingered near the bottom of the Big Ten, averaging just 25.1 points and 368.6 yards per game, good for No. 92 and No. 95 in the nation. Improvement on that end of the ball is the focus of the season for Purdue who boasts the second-least-likely odds of securing a Big Ten title at +50000 on oddsmaker 5dimes.
Purdue will return sophomore QB David Blough, and the pass game was a relative strength to the Boilermakers poor season. Purdue averaged 237.3 yards per game passing last season, ranking No. 54 in the nation. Blough started eight games last season and passed for 1,574 yards and 10 TDs as a redshirt freshman taking over for Austin Appleby last season.
At RB the Boilermakers will turn to Markell Jones who rushed for 875 yards and 10 TDs last year as a true freshman. He averaged 72.9 of Purdue’s 131.3 rushing yards per game last season, and junior DJ Knox will be the backup though he is likely to redshirt.
Senior DeAngelo Yancey caught 48 passes for 700 yards and five TDs last season and Cameron Posey will be the No. 2 passing target behind him. The OL has three first-year starters, including RT Matt McCann who beat out returning senior Cameron Cermin in the spring.
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Purdue was a disaster last season defensively, allowing 36.5 points and 458.3 yards per game, ranking No. 111 and No. 110 among FBS schools. It does have three potential All-Big Ten performers this season and eight returning starters, though, so improvement is likely. Jake Replogle had 14 tackles for loss last season and Ja’Whaun Bentley had 49 tackles while limited to just five games.
Senior S Leroy Clark had 88 tackles and two INTs last season and will be a source of strength in the secondary. The CB positions are more problematic and Purdue ranked No. 12 in Big Ten defense while allowing 41 points or more seven times last season.
Anthony Brown and Frankie Williams combined for 100 tackles and seven INTs last season as the cornerbacks, but they are both departed. Junior Da’Wan Hunte won one of the starting CB jobs in the spring. Gelen Robinson, son of Purdue hoops legend Glenn Robinson, will start at one of the ends, and JUCO transfer Austin Larkin will also be there pushing him for his role. Sophomore Tim Cason is also in the mix and will likely start.
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Punter Joe Schopper averaged 40.2 yards on 58 kicks in his freshman season, but Purdue has to replace placekicker Paul Griggs. Incoming freshman JD Dillinger is a recruit with a strong leg who should be up for the gig.
Purdue opens the season Sept. 3 at home against Eastern Kentucky and remains at home in Weeks 2 and 3 when it welcomes the Cincinnati and Nevada. Conference play opens Week 4 at Maryland. Purdue faces Iowa Oct. 15, but it avoids big crossover games this season.
Hazell is most certainly on the hot seat, but Purdue likely cannot get him off of it. Even with a new OC and DC, Purdue lacks depth at several key positions and the secondary is going to have problems all season. The Boilermakers are likely looking at a last place finish in the Big Ten West.
Prediction: 3 wins
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