Winning three games of the first six games did not seem a possibility when Purdue football started their season. Now, Purdue is sitting at 3-3 with several winnable games left. Something not many fans believed would happen in Coach Jeff Brohm’s first season with the team. He turned a team who had not won more than three games in a season, the past three years, into a legitimate threat in the Big Ten Conference.
Purdue’s hardest games are behind them. They have already played three top 25 teams in the first six games, including top ten Michigan and Wisconsin in the past three games. No team left on their schedule is currently ranked in the top 25, and only one has a record over .500. Purdue has an easier second half then their first. But that does not mean a guaranteed road to a bowl game. They must take care of business and stay motivated week in and week out.
To get bowl eligible, Purdue will likely need to finish in the top three in the Big Ten West and have six to seven wins on the season. Their reaming schedule is favorable to accomplish both of those feats. Of their six remaining games, four come against fellow Big Ten West opponents. Wisconsin will likely win the West, but Purdue has a legitimate shot at being one of those following directly behind them.
Purdue starts that road with their game this week against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights average a total of 315 yards of total offense and only 24 points per game. Since joining the Big Ten conference in 2014, Rutgers only has five total conference wins and two in the past three seasons. Purdue seems like the obvious favorite, but they still have issues with the quarterback position to address.
Purdue is still without a guaranteed starting quarterback. Sophomore Elijah Sindelar started and played every series except for one, when David Blough came in, last week against Wisconsin. Purdue did not have a touchdown in the game, and Sindelar threw a late-game interception in the red zone to seal the win for the Badgers. The time for a two-quarterback system is in the past and purdue needs a sole leader on and off the field to succeed. Whether that is Blough or Sindelar is still yet to be determined.
The defense, on the other hand, must be commended for their performance against a tough Wisconsin offense. Wisconsin had the ball for two-thirds of the entire game and had a total of 494 yards of total offense. Almost 300 of that offense came on the ground with running back Jonathan Taylor having 219 yards of that by himself. Yet, the Purdue defense forced three turnovers and only allowed 17 total points. The defense had their biggest challenge of the season, and they gave the offense a chance. Purdue having a defense they can rely on is a huge key to them having success for the rest of the season.
Purdue is the favorite against Rutgers and is expected to win. A road win in the Big Ten is always big (no pun intended). But Purdue has a long road ahead of them to become bowl eligible. Their most difficult games come on the road against Northwestern and Iowa in November. But what that means, is Purdue has their more winnable games at home. The opportunity to play in the postseason is there. Now it is up to Purdue to seize that opportunity and take that next step in their rapid rebuilding process.