Both teams are looking for their first Big 10 conference win as the Purdue Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1) welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-1, 0-1) to Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana Saturday afternoon at 2:30 central time on ESPN 2. Both teams are led by first year coaches with the program. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm came from Western Kentucky last year while Gophers coach P.J. Fleck came from Western Michigan.
Purdue is coming off of a bye week. The last time they took the field it was against No.8 Michigan where they were defeated at home 28-10. Minnesota lost its Big Ten opener to Maryland 31-24. The Gophers are on a four-game winning streak against the Boilermakers. However, Purdue has won 11 of the last 18 in the series. The all-time series is in favor of Minnesota 37-32-3.
The Boilermakers have been using a two-quarterback approach all year long. David Blough and Elijah Sindelar will both see playing time in this one and as usual whoever has the hot hand will get the majority of the snaps in the second half. Both QB’s have had their ups and downs on the season. Sindelar has had a lot of passes dropped which factors into his 48.4 completion percentage. Sindlear is 31/64 for 366 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Blough is 56/80 for 629 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
One thing the Gophers will have to contend with is the fact that Purdue is 15 of 15 in the red zone this year. Eight of Purdue’s red zone touchdowns have come through the air. Jackson Anthrop has a big hand in that stat. He has 18 receptions for 157 yards and four touchdowns.
After not being able to run the ball against Michigan, the Boilermakers will want to get back on track in this one. They were also without their leading rusher, Tario Fuller. Fuller has 43 carries for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
Purdue’s defense might be the biggest surprise this year. Last year they ranked 117th in scoring defense allowing 38.3 points per game. So far, this year they’re allowing 21.8 which ranks 46th. Last year they gave up 238.4 rushing a game vs 132.0 this year. They’ve forced five fumbles already in the season. Last year they forced one.
That Purdue defense will be tested by Minnesota’s running game. Rodney Smith leads the way with 87 carries for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Shannon Brooks has five touchdowns on the ground with 199 yards on 47 carries. The Gophers have 11 touchdowns on the ground on 187 carries for 723 yards.
For Minnesota, quarterback Conor Rhoda will have to make plays if Purdue decides to stack the box. Rhonda has completed almost 60% of his passes this year. He’s thrown for 685 yards with three touchdowns but also has three interceptions.