Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHuddle)
Purdue's 2015 campaign has largely been a train wreck, forgive my pun, and Indiana needs to make sure that doesn't change when the two teams face-off on Saturday in West Lafayette. The Hoosiers are the clear favorite heading into this annual rivalry game for the coveted Old Oaken Bucket. But beyond continuing their winning streak over the Boilers, the Hoosiers eyes are on a bigger prize, gaining bowl eligibility for the first time since I was a freshman at IU, or 2007.
Saying this is the most important game of Kevin Wilson's tenure at Indiana, is well, accurate. This team has been involved in a ton of exciting match-ups this season, but this one, this is for all the marbles. This team has proven it's capable of sticking with anyone they lineup across from, and on Saturday, it's up to the Hoosiers to not to play down to their competition. The Terrapins made things interesting for more than a half last week, but in rivalry games, you need to step on your opponents throat early when you get the chance.
So, what numbers matter going into this match-up of the instate rivals?
40 - Football weather is here, it looks to be a chilly afternoon in Ross Ade. How do the 40 degree temperatures impact the Hoosiers passing offense?
0-2 - Purdue's Darrell Hazzell has yet to defeat the Hoosiers in two attempts. A win over the Cream and Crimson could be great way to end the season on a high note and get some momentum heading into the final months of recruiting for the 2016 class.
3 - Victories over FBS opponents by Purdue since Hazell took over in 2013.
.500 - Kevin Wilson's winning percentage against Purdue. Not a lot of Indiana coaches can boast about an above .500 record against the Black and Gold.
2-17 - The Hoosiers Big Ten road record since Wilson took over. The team earned a conference road victory last weekend against the Maryland Terrapins, which was their first since the 2012 season.
22 - The Boilers have a hard time of taking care of the pigskin, turning it over 22 times on the season. Can the Hoosiers get back to their early season ways of forcing opponents into turnovers?
20 - While the Boilers have turned the ball over plenty of times, they have also forced plenty of turnovers this season as well and will need to get a couple of Saturday to give themselves a chance at winning.
10 - However, the Indiana offense has only turned the ball over 10 times all season, so it will be interesting to see who wins this battle.
273 - The Hoosiers offense has gained 273 first downs this season. The Hoosiers defense has given up 273 first downs this season.
206.4 - Purdue's rush defense is abysmal, no. 108 in the nation. Regardless of who is lining up in the backfield for Indiana, they should have no problem moving the ball on the ground.
34.9 - The Boilers give up a lot of points, so the Hoosiers should have no problem getting to the endzone and putting some kicks through the uprights on Saturday.
24.1 - Their offense isn't particularly threatening either, as their 24.1 points per game is no. 99 in the country.
.348 - Like Maryland last week, Purdue has trouble converting on third down.
.371 - The Hoosiers defense must get the Boilers offense off the field when they get the chance, but as we've seen all season, this has come with quite a bit of difficulty.
There are plenty of other numbers that could come into play, but at the end of the day the only number that matters is one. The Hoosiers need one more win to gain bowl eligibility and they have just one game remaining to earn it. Keep Sudfeld clean, open up holes for the running backs, and force the Purdue offense into some turnovers are just a couple keys to the game. While this is a rivalry game, the Hoosiers are the easy favorites, which doesn't happen very often. Can Wilson and co. keep the momentum going and get win number six on Saturday?