The Indiana-Purdue rivalry is always a big game in the state of Indiana, but this season’s game means even more as the two teams will battle to finish .500 and be bowl eligible when they play Saturday afternoon. Both teams come into the contest 5-6, with the Boilermakers having won two of three and the Hoosiers are on a two-game winning streak, including a 41-0 rout of Rutgers last weekend.
Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow is finishing off his career on a high note, throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games. Lagow has two of the top targets in the Big Ten to throw to in wide receivers Simmie Cobbs Jr. (65 catches, 736 yards, seven TDs) and Luke Timian (62, 520, two), who rank second and third in the conference in receptions. The Hoosiers will be tested by the Purdue defense, which ranks 18th in the country in scoring, allowing 18.9 points a contest. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar leads the Boilermakers’ attack, passing for 1,544 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN2. LINE: Purdue -2.5
ABOUT INDIANA (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten): The Hoosiers’ drive for bowl eligiblity is being led by the team’s defensive line, which is playing as well as any unit on the team over the past few weeks. Indiana ranks eighth in the country with 35 sacks, which already surpasses the team’s total from all of last season, led by defensive end Robert McCray III’s 6.0 and linebacker Tegray Scales’ 5.0. The Hoosiers are also 15th in the country in tackles for loss, and another dominant performance against Purdue could get the veteran defensive front one more game together this season.
ABOUT PURDUE (5-6, 3-5): First-year coach Jeff Brohm is known for his offensive acumen, but this season, the Boilermakers are defined by their defense, which has held 10 straight opponents to 28 points or fewer. Purdue has allowed an average of 74 rushing yards over the last four games, and was boosted by the return of linebacker T.J. McCollum from an ankle injury. McCollum has 14 tackles and two sacks over the last two contests and will be a big key if the Boilermakers are going to advance to a bowl game.
1. Indiana’s 41-point victory over Rutgers is its largest margin of victory over a conference opponent since a 42-point win over Northwestern in October 1990.
2. Purdue WR Anthony Mahoungou had a career day in the win over Iowa last week, tying his career best with seven catches and setting new personal standards with 135 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Purdue leads the all-time series 72-41-6 but Indiana has won the last four meetings for the first time since 1944-47.
PREDICTION: Purdue 28, Indiana 24