Week 5 – Illinois at Purdue
We don’t have to wait too long for this heated-up rivalry to take place. Illinois heads down to West Lafayette to take on Purdue on Saturday, September 30 at either 2:30/3:00 p.m. CT or 6:30 p.m. CT.
Purdue barely nipped Illinois in 2022, but this is a different Boilermakers bunch in 2023. With so much changing with the Purdue program, you really have to throw the prior year’s stats out the window.
The Boilermakers’ offense lost its starting quarterback, but they are replacing him with a superstar transfer in Hudson Card. This was a great get for Purdue. They also return the top two running backs from 2022, but I don’t think this is going to be a running team.
I would say the thing that hurts Purdue the most is the fact Charlie Jones and Payne Durham both departed, and they were the No. 1 wide receiver and tight end last season. Card lost two huge weapons with those guys in the NFL now.
Ryan Walters is going to have his hands full on the defensive side of the ball as well. Purdue lose two out of the top four players in tackles, sacks, and interceptions from the 2022 squad. This isn’t going to be a plug-and-play situation. Purdue is going to have to rebuild the defense. But Walters is a great coach, and I think he can do the job well.
- Prediction – Illinois beats Purdue, 27-13
Both Illinois and Purdue had some big losses from last season, but I think the Boilermakers are in a bigger transition phase right now. It is going to take Walters a year or two to get that team back into a bowl game.
I think Purdue offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is going to want to throw the ball a lot, but I am not sure the Boilermakers have the weapons or the quarterback experience just yet. Purdue will be a better team in the second half of the 2023 campaign, and thankfully, Illinois gets them in the first half.
Look for Illinois to expose a wounded Purdue defense both on the ground and through the air. I think we will be able to force a few big turnovers that turn the game as well.