Purdue Betting Odds Preview
The Boilermakers are coming off basically the worst season in program history. In its first year under new head coach Darrell Hazell Purdue won one game, none against FBS competition. The Boilers were outscored by three touchdowns per game, got shut out twice, were held to 10 points or less three other times, averaged just 67 yards per game on the ground and just generally stunk.
The only silver linings to be sifted from last year's performance are that it was the first season under a new regime, and it's over. Purdue now goes forward with the tempered goal of topping last year's win total, because it's still too early to talk of bowl eligibility.
Purdue knew it would go through a learning curve last year, but things went even rougher than expected. The Boilers opened with a bad loss to Cincinnati and a win over FCS Indiana State, then lost their last 10 games. They played Notre Dame tough, but lost by 31 points to both Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Purdue then made a change at quarterback, going with true freshman Danny Etling, and to little surprise struggled mightily the rest of the way. The Boilers kept it close against eventual Big Ten champion Michigan State and only lost to Illinois by four, but the rest of it was a mess.
In the end Purdue had gone 1-11 SU, 4-8 ATS, 0-8 SU and 3-5 ATS in Big Ten play.
This year the Boilers return 15 starters, three more than last season. Eight starters return on offense, including QB Etling (56 percent completions, 10/7 TD/INT ratio last year) and the entire skills set. But they'll have to replace three starters along the offensive line. And seven starters are back on defense, including six of the back seven. But that means there are three holes to fill along the front four.
Purdue averaged just 15 points per game last year, while giving up 38 per game. Purdue stands a decent chance of improving upon both those numbers this season, but by how much? And how many wins will that create?
The Boilermakers open this season with two games against middle-tier MAC teams, then take on Notre Dame in Indianapolis. Purdue later hosts Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Northwestern, and visits Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana. The Boilers could start 3-1, but after that they might be dogged in every game.
Hazell guided a Kent State team that had gone 5-7 three straight seasons to 11 wins in 2012. But while Purdue should be improved this season, three or four victories is probably the ceiling.
Big Ten Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Ohio State 10/11
Michigan State 15/4
The Purdue Boilermakers have done little more than tread water over recent seasons, going 22-28 since head coach Joe Tiller left town, splitting two minor bowl games. Purdue is also just 13-19 in Big Ten play over that span, and that wasn't good enough to keep head coach Danny Hope on the job. So the Boilers now go forward with another new coach, Darrell Hazell, plucked from the MAC. Can he revitalize this once-proud program?
Purdue had 14 starters back last year from a team that went 7-6 in 2011, so a return to a bowl seemed like a good bet. And while those expectations were met, it didn't come easy. The Boilers started 3-1, the only loss coming by a field goal to Notre Dame. But they then began their Big Ten slate with five straight losses.
Purdue got blown out by Michigan (by 31 points), Wisconsin (by 24), and Penn State (by 25), and lost to lowly Minnesota. But it played Ohio State surprisingly tough, giving up a late score and two-point conversion that forced overtime, before eventually falling 29-22. PU then won its last three games over three of the weaker sisters of the Big Ten, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, to get to 6-6. And these days that's enough to go to a bowl game.
The Boilers then got bounced by Oklahoma State 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl to finish 6-7 both SU and ATS. This year Hazell, who almost took Kent State to a BCS bowl last year, takes over a team that returns 13 starters. Just five starters are back on offense, as the Boilers lose two quarterbacks and last year's leading rusher and receiver, but eight starters are back on defense, including six of last season's top seven tacklers. But that defense got gouged for 416 YPG last year, so improvement is needed on that side of the ball. While Purdue has some talent, its schedule might keep it from getting back to a bowl this year.
The Boilers open at Cincinnati, and later host Notre Dame and Northern Illinois (which just beat Hazell's Golden Flashes in the MAC championship game last November to earn a berth in the Orange Bowl). Purdue then begins Big Ten play at Wisconsin, later visits Michigan State, Penn State, and what might be a decent Indiana squad, and hosts Nebraska, Ohio State, Iowa, and Illinois. Conceivably, the Boilers might be favored in as few as four games this season.
Big Ten Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 5
Ohio State -115
Michigan State +800