WEST LAFAYETTE—This might be the place, but if you're a Boilermaker fan, its certainly not the time.
No. 7 Ohio State's timing couldn't be any worse for Purdue, following five straight losses that have each featured a new and less than exciting ending. From turnovers to missed conversions from a knack for playing bad in the second quarter, its been a first half of a season to forget.
1. Big Time Boilers?-Here is a reason for Boliers to have some hope as they get ready to host the Big Ten's best team on Saturday (Iowa fans, don't worry, you're team is close behind). The Boliers' most impressive games so far have been against the two toughest opponents on their schedule: No. 13 Oregon and No. 25 Notre Dame. The Boilers were two inches of Kyle Adams' foot from taking the Ducks into overtime, and the Boilers had the lead agains the Irish till Jimmy Clausen led them on a late touchdown drive. Purdue's duds have been against Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota-all pretty average teams, so maybe the Boliers will have something for the Bucks.
2. Crack the Buckeye Code-If Purdue is to find away to pull one of the biggest upsets in the country this season, they'll have to find someway to crack the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes rank seventh in the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of 12 points a game while pitching two shutouts. Their run defense is their showcase stat, as the rank 12th the nation allowing just 89 yards per game, with a more pedestrian pass defense that ranks 30th. The key to success might come from Navy, who scored a season-high 27 on the Buckeyes. The came the closests to having a balanced attack (186 through the air, 156 on the ground), so perhaps a mix of Ralph Bolden and Joey Elliott might be the best place to start.
3. Does Hope Exist?-No, the coach is there and he is trying, and in fact in many comments to the press has sounded upbeat about his team. But following five straight losses a relatively young Boliermaker team could be in danger of an implosion or a simple loss of desire. Danny Hope has shown this season-at the very least-that his passion and intensity are key components to his coaching makeup. Translating that to his players, no matter what the score this week, will be key in trying to salvage what is left of this season.