Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The 2015 edition of the Bucket Game will make its way back to West Lafayette for the first time since 2012. The Hoosiers have won back-to-back Buckets for the first time in 20 years and look to win a third straight for the first time since the mid-40’s. Add in the fact that both teams may have something bigger on the line and this game could bring some life into Ross-Ade Stadium.
Week 13: Purdue Boilermakers
Time & Date: TBD, Saturday, Nov. 28
Venue: Ross-Ade Stadium (57,236), West Lafayette, Ind.
Boilermakers at a Glance
Head Coach: Darrell Hazell
Last Season: 3-9 (1-8)
Boilermaker Returning Leaders
Passing: Austin Appleby (52.9% 1,449 Yds, 10 TD 11 INT)
Rushing: Keyonte Green (199 Yds, 7.4 Avg, 0 TD)
Receiving: Danny Anthrop (616 Yds, 16.2 Avg, 4 TD)
Tackles: Ja’Whaun Bentley (76 Tkl, 3.5 TFL, 1 INT)
Preseason Magazine Predictions
Lindy’s: 7rd in the Big Ten West
Sporting News: 7th in the Big Ten West
Athlon Sports: 7th in the Big Ten West
Phil Steele: 7th in the Big Ten West
Why the Boilermakers could win
The Boilermakers have only lost this matchup at home once since 1996, a 34-31 OT loss in 2010, so they have history on their side. Purdue will also field their most experienced team under Hazell in 2015 as they return 15 starters from a year ago.
Purdue announced in late August that Austin Appleby would be the starting quarterback to open the season after the transfer of Danny Etling. Appleby beat out reshirt freshman David Blough for the honors. Appleby had a rollercoaster season in 2014 that saw the offense put up 35.6 points per game in his first three starts, but just 15 points per contest in the next three.
Appleby should get some help if wide receiver Danny Anthrop can return from a knee injury that knocked him out of the final four games of 2014. Anthrop, a 6-foot senior, had 616 yards and four touchdowns in just eight starts. A healthy Anthrop will be joined by DeAngelo Yancey, who had a very disappointing 2014 with just 147 yards after an impressive freshman season, and Anthony Mahoungou, a JUCO transfer. The weakness of the Hoosier defense at this moment is in the secondary and if they don’t figure it out by the final game of the season, it could be a long day in West Lafayette.
The Purdue running game does lose Akeem Hunt and Rashard Mostert, but they bring in highly touted freshman Markell Jones and return D.J. Knox and Keyonte Green. So they should be fine.
Purdue’s defense should also be much better than the last two seasons as they return four of their top five tacklers from 2014. The only loss, and it is a big loss, is safety Landon Feichter. Stud linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is only a sophomore and the defensive line should be improved. Add in the return of Frankie Williams at corner and this defense has a chance to be solid.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off
If Purdue couldn’t knock off an IU team starting a true freshman third stringer, when will they beat IU under Hazell. It may shock some Hoosier fans but quarterback Nate Sudfeld has thrown exactly one pass against Purdue in his career in the Bucket Game. So you know the senior will be chomping at the bit to put his stamp on this rivalry.
Now, it is difficult to project who will be starting on the final week of the regular season, but the Hoosiers should have the clear edge at the quarterback position. Appleby was awful in last year’s match-up and the only other experienced quarterback took his talents to Baton Rouge.
This may be the most talented Indiana defense in years, and the young secondary should have their sea legs by game 12, so the Hoosiers should have the advantage on both sides of the ball. Purdue did throw three interceptions in the 2014 Bucket Game.
The Hoosiers may also be playing for something bigger. There is a real possibility that IU comes into Ross-Ade needing a victory to become bowl eligible, while Purdue could be puttering to another lack luster year. The added incentive could put the Hoosiers over the top for the third time in a row.
Hoosier Win Percentage
Going up to Lafayette needing a victory for a bowl game will be an extremely tall task for the Hoosiers. If Purdue is eliminated from bowl contention there will be nothing sweeter than reclaiming the Old Oaken Bucket and keeping their arch rivals from reaching the Promised Land. Purdue will be better in 2015 than they were in 2014, so don’t just pencil this in as a ‘W’ Hoosier fans. This is a classic 50/50 game. The way a rivalry should be.