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Odds and Schedule
It's been obvious to Purdue how much bowl games tend to mean these days, not a whole lot. Even after two straight bowl appearances, the Boilermakers went another direction and hired Darrell Hazell as the new head coach out of Kent State. Purdue finished the season with three straight wins which squeaked them into a bowl game, but none of those wins were against anyone respectable. With Hazell at the helm and a new QB to boot, Purdue will lean heavily on their rushing attack.
Robert Henry is slated to be the starting quarterback, but he hasn't started a game since 2010. On his coattails are a couple freshmen in Austin Appleby and Danny Etling. It wouldn't be surprising if Henry started the year, but eventually gave way to one of the younger guys. With only five starters returning from last year's offense, the wide receiver corps took the biggest hit with the top two targets gone. Because of that and because of Hazell's power-rushing mindset, the Boilermakers will look to Akeem Hunt to take the step to top running back.
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The defense has fewer question marks than the offense as nine starters will be returning including the beasts up front of Ryan Russell and Bruce Gaston. Plus, their entire linebacking core is back along with studs in the secondary like Ricardo Allen who is an All-Big Ten performer. This is a team that struggled against anyone with a viable offense and allowed over 31 points per game last year. They have the pieces, but there's definitely room for improvement which will be needed with their schedule.
2013 Purdue Football Schedule
Aug. 31 at Cincinnati
Sept. 7 vs. Indiana State
Sept. 14 vs. Notre Dame
Sept. 21 at Wisconsin
Sept. 28 vs. Northern Illinois
Oct. 12 vs. Nebraska
Oct. 19 at Michigan State
Nov. 2 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 9 vs. Iowa
Nov. 16 at Penn State
Nov. 23 vs. Illinois
Nov. 29 at Indiana
The Boilermakers started 3-1 last year with their only loss coming at Notre Dame. It's going to take a lot more if they want to match that number as this year's non-conference schedule is a bit tougher. Opening at Cincinnati could see them start with a loss and then a home game with Notre Dame two weeks later could be another.
They'll start conference play at Wisconsin and it doesn't get easier from there. A game with Northern Illinois is thrown in, which will test Purdue's defense as much as any Big Ten opponent as they are still led by Jordan Lynch. Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State follow those games.
Once again, Purdue will have to finish the season on a high note because that's where the weaker opponents come in. Home games against Iowa and Illinois need to be wins for them, while road games at Penn State and Indiana will be tough, yet winnable.
Because of a harder non-conference schedule, Purdue will need to improve on last year's performances, otherwise they won't even make it to a bowl game. Five or six wins is a likely output for this squad.
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