For less than one dollar per ticket on some online ticket vendors, you can head to West Lafayette, Indiana this weekend to see two teams fight to stay out of the Big Ten cellar. The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Purdue Boilermakers bring a combined 0-12 Big Ten record this year into what could be a good day for Illini fans.
The Illini, riding a 20 game Big Ten losing streak, are favored to finally snap the demoralizing winless streak when they play Purdue on Senior Day in West Lafayette. Head Coach Tim Beckman is hopeful that his squad can do what they need to do to get the monkey off their backs and get back to winning games in Big Ten play.
Purdue features a young team all around, as they employ 52 freshmen, both true freshman and redshirt freshmen. The youth will bode well for their future, as two of their top three tackles leaders are expected to return for next season.
Purdue has nine takeaways this season, all interceptions, and have not recovered a fumble all year long. Ryan Isaac, Austin Logan, Landon Feicher, and Andy James Garcia all have one pick this year, while Frankie Williams has two and Ricardo Allen has three.
Speaking of Ricardo Allen, the senior cornerback is on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, an award given to the nation’s best all around athlete.
The takeaway numbers are important for the Boilermakers this season, as they are 0-8 when their opponent creates more takeaways then they do. Purdue, with such a young team, needs to create turnovers to give themselves an advantage in play.
The numbers for the Purdue defense heavily favor the Illinois Fighting Illini, as they have given up 38 points per game this year. Add to that the 230 rushing yards per game and 214 passing yards per game and things seem to look up for Nathan Scheelhaase and company.
Purdue has a meager twelve sacks on the season, and have been giving up just a hair over six yards per play. Purdue has a defense that is growing and will be tough in the next year or so, but for Illini fans it is exactly what the fan base and players need.
Being a fan and watching a team lose 20 straight Big Ten games is tough, no doubt. However, nothing compares to the feeling that the players must have, and how demoralizing it is for them to have that kind of a streak. The losing is tough for fans, sure, but it is the players who are the ones hurting with this streak. That feeling should subside, though, as this game sets up nicely to be a game the Illini can win.
PREDICTION: Illinois comes out swinging, and the young Purdue defense is overmatched from the onset of the first whistle. Nathan Scheelhaase will continue his extremely underrated play under center, throwing for five touchdowns and 350 yards, as the Illini roll through Purdue and start a new streak, winning this game by an impressive score of 49-14.