Both teams come off disappointing losses last week as Purdue fell to Maryland 50-7 and Illinois came up short against Nebraska 31-16. Although the Boilermakers went into last week’s game as second in the nation in third-down conversions with 59%, they were only able to amass slightly more than a third of that going at 6 for 20 versus undefeated Maryland.
However, Purdue sophomore QB David Blough still managed 138 passing yards and a touchdown early in the fourth to prevent the shootout; which added to his impressive resume totaling him with 1,078 yards through the air this season. Through four games, Blough is on track to contend or possibly beat former Purdue QB Drew Brees’ astonishing 1998, sophomore season of 3,983 yards.
Despite having no clear answer for the Terrapins offense last week, the Boilermaker defense, behind DTs senior Jake Replogle and sophomore Eddy Wilson, look to increase pressure inside as the two combine for five sacks on the year. Furthermore, the Purdue defense has to make more of a statement in this upcoming game to combat giving up an average of 31.5 points a game.
Purdue’s defense may not be able to contend with the speed and talent of Illinois’ running backs Kendrick Foster and Reggie Corbin. Foster is coming into his own as a junior amassing 221 yards this season compared to 299 from his sophomore year. Moreover, Reggie Corbin electrified the running lanes for 143 yards as a freshman while receiving for 36 in his first game last week against Nebraska.
The Fighting Illini also have the ability to slow Purdue’s offense with senior DE Dawuane Smoot. The pre-season All-American has 12 tackles, 2.0 TFLs, two hurries, one forced fumble and one safety already this season to add to his 15 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2015.
Saturday’s 3:30 contest on BTN is a must win for both teams. Even with Lovie Smith’s outstanding coaching and many talented players, Illinois has lost their last three games with their only win this season coming in their season opener against Murray State. On the other hand, Purdue comes in with an even record of 2-2 this season desperately needing a win after being dragged by Maryland. However, the Boilermakers have won eight of the last 11 meetings in the battle for the Cannon Trophy since 1943, with Purdue leading the series 33-29-2.