As we sit just two weeks from the opening of the college football season, everyone is making their predictions on both a conference and a national level. Looking at the Big Ten in 2015, there are several teams who have the potential to make a splash on the national platform and several others who may show great improvement by returning to the postseason.
The conference seems to be growing stronger every year, but there are always teams who stick out as a potential bottom-dweller. The Purdue Boilermakers are one of those teams who won’t be making much noise in 2015.
Purdue will be returning 16 starters (eight on offense and eight on defense), though they’ll be coming back to a team that finished 3-9 last season. Their defensive MVP, safety Landon Feichter, is now at camp with the Cleveland Browns. Feichter recorded five interceptions last season and also led the team with 105 tackles. Those are both great individual accomplishments, though your safety shouldn’t be leading your team in tackling. The Boilermakers’ defense surrendered over 31 points per game last season.
Offensively, it’s much of the same. The team’s leading rusher and receiver, Akeem Hunt, is now a current member of the New York Giants. Hunt rushed for 949 yards and six touchdowns, while also catching 48 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Austin Appleby will be returning for his junior season and will need to improve immensely. Appleby threw 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2014.
The Boilermakers have a stretch of games to end the season that are very winnable. If their top playmakers were returning and they had a more productive quarterback, I could see the team fighting for bowl eligibility. Unfortunately, Feichter and Hunt have moved on, which makes it’s unlikely that head coach Darrell Hazell will see much improvement out of his team. I think that five wins will be their ceiling, though three or four wins seems more likely.
Jason Shawley is a Featured Writer for RantSports.com covering Big Ten Football. Follow him on Twitter @jshawls.