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Game #7 Preview: Purdue at Rutgers

How To Watch, Advanced Stats & Keys To Victory

Ohio State v Rutgers Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Purdue (3-3; 1-2) At Rutgers (2-4; 1-2)

Where: High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey

Kick-off: Saturday, October 21st at noon ET (Homecoming Game)

TV: Big Ten Network - Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, and Lisa Byington

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas, Eric LeGrand and Anthony Fucilli - WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, Sirius 113, XM 196

Current Spread: Purdue -9.5

Series History: This is the first meeting between the two schools

Common Opponents: None

SB Nation Ohio State site: Hammer And Rails

Purdue Statistical Leaders

Passing: Elijah Sindelar - 63 of 119 pass attempts, 52.9%, 769 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT; David Blough - 62 of 90 pass attempts, 68.9%, 688 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT

Rushing: Tario Fuller - 43 carries for 261 yards for 6.1 yards per rush, 2 TD’s ; D.J. Knox - 28 carries for 152 yards for 5.4 yards per rush

Receiving: Anthony Mahoungou- 16 receptions for 253 yards, 1 TD; Cole Herdman - 11 receptions for 250 yards, 2 TD; Jackson Anthrop - 23 receptions for 228 yards, 4 TD; Brycen Hopkins - 15 receptions for 224 yards, 3 TD

Defense: Ja’Whaun Bentley - 46 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles, 3 pass deflections, 1 INT; Markus Bailey - 41 tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT; Danny Ezechukwu - 22 tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 INT

Kicking: Spencer Evans - 4 of 6 on FG attempts, Long of 49 yards, 9 of 10 on XP attempts; J.D. Dellinger - 4 of 7 on FG attempts, Long of 40 yards, 8 of 8 on XP attempts

Purdue Statistical Comparison Versus Rutgers

S&P+ Advanced Stats Profiles: Purdue I Rutgers

Rutgers Advanced Stats Win Probability - 40% (per Football Study Hall)

S&P+ Offensive Ranks: Purdue 70th; Rutgers 120th

S&P+ Defensive Ranks: Purdue 43rd; Rutgers 36th

(conference ranks noted below)

Scoring Offense: Purdue 26.2 ppg (10th); Rutgers 24.0 ppg (12th)

Scoring Defense: Purdue 20.2 ppg (8th); Rutgers 25.5 ppg (9th)

Matchup Mismatches: Purdue Passing Offense 246.8 yards per game (6th) v. Rutgers Passing Defense 229.8 yards per game (11th); Rutgers Rushing Offense 174.0 yards per game (6th) v. Purdue Rushing Defense 175.0 yards per game (13th)

Average Time Of Possession: Purdue 28:46 (11th); Rutgers 31:43 (5th)

Keys To The Game

Minimize Mistakes

Rutgers was fortunate they played Illinois last week in the sense that they lost three fumbles and committed eight penalties. That would have resulted in a loss against most, if not all other Big Ten opponents. They cannot afford sloppy play in this game and they need to come out sharp and focused from the opening kickoff. For this team to show real progress this season, they need to cut down on such costly mistakes and stop giving their opponents an advantage. While it’s not realistic to expect zero miscues, Rutgers needs to make sure they minimize the damage when they do happen.

Run It Down Their Throats

The Rutgers ground game came through against Illinois and it needs to be fully charged against Purdue for any hope of beginning a much desired winning streak in conference play. The offensive line did a great job of opening up holes for the backs to run through last week and need to do the same in this game. The front seven of Purdue could be a bit beat up from facing Wisconsin last week, who grounded out over 300 yards rushing against them. Rutgers needs to bring a certain physicality and mentality to the Purdue game in order to have a chance. That's a step this offense needs to take to have success the rest of the way against Big Ten competition. Rutgers needs to win the time of possession battle and control the game, keeping the Purdue offense off the field. They aren't the most talented, but if they can outwork and physically assert themselves running the ball, Rutgers will win more conference games this season. Saturday's game is certainly an opportunity to do so.

A Few Big Plays

As important as the run game is in establishing control of the game, Rutgers needs a few big plays as well to win.. The reality is that while Wisconsin ran for over 300 yards against Purdue, they only scored 17 points and produced just a field goal after the first quarter. Rutgers needs a big play or two from all three units in this game. Can Jerry Kill find a way to get Janarion Grant the ball in open space? Will Rutgers complete a pass downfield longer than 15 yards? Can one of the backs, perhaps Raheem Blackshear, run for a big gain? Aside from those possibilities, the defense needs to force turnovers and shorten the field for the offense. It would be great timing for Rutgers to produce a big play or two in the return game as well. We know Rutgers will try and control time of possession by running the ball, but they need big plays to lead to points to actually win this game.

Ground The Air Attack

The Purdue passing attack is what scares me most about this game. As good as Jawuan Harris and K.J. Gray were last week, they are inexperienced enough to be exploited by the Purdue offense. Their entire turnaround has been sparked by the improved offense under head coach Jeff Brohm. Expect him to attack Rutgers early and often through the air, something Illinois did not do. The best way to counter this is for the Rutgers front seven to generate a disruptive pass rush on a consistent basis in this game. Purdue has allowed 20 sacks through six games, the most in the conference. The more the Rutgers defensive line is present in the Purdue backfield, the better. I really hope DC Jay Niemann strays from the normal and calls for more blitzes in this game. Can someone make sure Kemoko Turay doesn't forget to put his cape on before the game? He is needed more than ever in this contest. Another area that Rutgers needs to show improvement with is the linebackers in pass coverage. Purdue loves utilizing their tight ends, Cole Herdman and Brycen Hopkins, in the passing game. Trevor Morris and Ross Douglas need to play well in defending them on pass plays. Regardless, if the secondary doesn’t play well, I’m worried this could get ugly.

Toughness & Heart

For me, these factors will have a huge impact on the outcome of this game. Rutgers simply needs to play with an edge against Purdue and take the game to them. It’s possible Purdue is due a stinker. This is their second straight road game, a rare trip to the east coast, are a week removed playing the best and most physical team in the Big Ten West in Wisconsin, and they haven’t played a bad game all season. However, Rutgers needs to force the action by coming out aggressively and playing physical football. Establishing the run game will help, but the defense needs to play hungry too and manhandle the Purdue offensive line. Chris Ash and the staff need to have this team ready to play because this game is winnable, but if they come out flat and don’t set the tone early on, the outcome will be predictable and disappointing. The talent disparity shouldn't be that significant. I want to see Rutgers truly want this game more than Purdue and will themselves to victory. It’s homecoming against an opponent that’s beatable, making this no better of a time for this team to leave their heart and guts out on the field Saturday. If they do, they can win and prove real progress is happening at Rutgers this season.