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2020 opponent preview: Week 6 Purdue

Find our more about the second Big Ten West foe that Rutgers football will face this season.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Penn State John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2020 season kicking off in just a few weeks, we are previewing each opponent for Rutgers this fall. SB Nation sites for every Big Ten school have provided a detailed overview of what to expect from their respective team heading into this season. We continue our opponent preview series with week 6 foe Purdue.

The only time these two programs have played each other on the grid iron was in 2017 when the Scarlet Knights defeated the Boilermakers 14-12. Despite Purdue having a lot more success since that game, this road contest is certainly one that Rutgers could be competitive in. We’ll find out on November 28 when Rutgers visits West Lafayette for the first time ever.

Travis Miller is the founder and site editor of Hammer and Rails. Here is his in-depth look at the current state of Purdue football entering the 2020 season.

List your team’s key departures:

Brycen Hopkins - TE drafted by the Rams, Markus Bailey - LB, Drafted by the Bengals

List your team’s key returnees:

Rondale Moore - Receiver/returner/All-American badass. Lorenzo Neal - DT, missed all of last season due to torn ACL. David Bell - WR, Freshman All-American, Grant Hermanns - LT, 5th year senior and four year starter.

List a few true freshmen or transfers that will make an instant impact:

Tyler Coyle (UConn transfer safety), Greg Long (OL transfer from UTEP), Gus HArtwig, 4 star offensive lineman from Zionsville, IN, DaMarcus Mitchell (LB) and Geovante Howard (CB), JuCo transfers

Brief overview of 2020 team:

Purdue was an extremely young team last year and had to play a lot of freshmen because of injuries. I believe at one point freshmen scored something like 17 straight touchdowns. We were also starting freshmen at QB, RB, WR, S, CB, and more. I feel this is a year of maturation. Our 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes were the best they have been in years and they will form a base for what I think is a real breakthrough in 2021.

What’s your team’s biggest strength?

Wide receiver. We have an embarrassment of riches there. Rondale Moore and David Bell are just the beginning. Purdue can legitimately go 7-8 deep in terms of either experience (fifth year seniors Jared Sparks and Jackson Anthrop) or highly rated talent (freshmen Maliq Carr and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen).

What’s your team’s biggest weakness?

Offensive line has been an issue the entire Brohm era. They need to be shored up and protect whoever wins the QB derby. Also, doe someone separate themselves from Jack Plummer, Aidan O’Connell, and Austin Burton at QB? If one of those guys does and the line holds up, Purdue can fling the ball all over the field. At that point Rondale would just make the offense absolutely lethal.

How does your fanbase feel about your coach and his staff?

Pretty good so far. Brohm has been up and down. He has some great highs like beating the brakes off of Ohio State. He also has had some really curious losses to Rutgers, Eastern Michigan, and Nevada. Five times in the last two years Purdue has lost on the very last snap of the game. That’s a lot of narrow losses where it has just missed an even better record.

Who is your team’s MVP this season and why?

David Bell. He is a stud and if Rondale does come back that dup will absolutely torment Big Ten secondaries.

Predict your team’s record, its best win, and a potential surprise loss:

I am think 5-3 with a season opening upset of Iowa. Brohm has done very well against the Hawkeyes and Ferentz’s conservative nature does not do well against him. As for curious loss, I will pick Illinois. We played an awful game against them last year and I feel like we should beat them, but are they really getting better under Lovie?

What else should we know about your team this year?

I forgot to mention George Karlaftis, another freshman All-American and general terror at defensive end. If anything, I think he will be better in year two as the game slows down for him.

Thanks to Travis for taking the time to give such great insight on Purdue football ahead of the 2020 season. You can follow him on Twitter here and make sure to visit Hammer and Rails for complete coverage of Purdue athletics.

2020 Opponent Season Preview Series

Week 1 vs. Michigan State

Week 2 vs. Indiana

Week 3 vs. Ohio State

Week 4 vs. Illinois

Week 5 vs. Michigan