Although the Purdue Boilermakers won six regular season games to qualify for a bowl in 2012, they won just three Big Ten Conference games. Their season ended by being blown out 58-14 by Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. 2013 brings a new coach in Darrell Hazell and some turnover at key positions. The Boilermakers are bound to have some ups and downs this season.
With a difficult schedule facing them, it will be tough to make much improvement over last year.
Last season, Purdue won three of its first four games before going on a five-game-losing streak once conference play began. The Boilermakers struggled, especially on defense. They finished the season ranked 11th in the conference in total defense. There were some bright spots however, including a 56-35 domination of rival Indiana in the regular season finale.
Purdue was effective on offense last year, especially in the air, averaging nearly 240 yards a game. Quarterbacks Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush combined for 2,884 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Unfortunately, both Marve and TerBush are gone, leaving senior Rob Henry as the most experienced player under center. Henry missed all of 2011 with an injury and only saw limited action last season. In 2010, he threw for 996 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. The offense also has to replace leading rusher Akeem Shavers and top receiver Antavian Edison.
On defense, things were not good last year. Purdue struggled to stop opposing offenses on both the ground and through the air and gave up over 31 points a game. Although the defense wasn’t very good, there are eight starters that will return for 2013. That experience could help improve the unit a bit.
Aside from some new starters on offense and a defense that has struggled in the past, Purdue also has a very difficult schedule. The Boilermakers must make trips to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. The schedule also includes home games against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State.
When taking into account the projected starters and looking at the schedule, it’s realistic to think that the Boilermakers will win six games at best. However, five seems more likely, meaning that Purdue will regress a bit in 2013 and continue to struggle.