Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Home Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium
Head Coach: Gerad Parker (interim; 0-1)
Conference: Big Ten (West Division)
First Game: November 3, 1951 (Purdue won 28-0)
Last Game: November 16, 2013 (Penn State won 45-21)
Overall: Penn State leads 13-1-3
Current Win Streak: 7, Penn State
Last Season (2-10 overall, 1-7 conference)
In 2015, Purdue had a dismal 2–10 record (1–7 in conference play), winning only their games against Nebraska and Indiana State, and failing to qualify for a bowl game for the third straight season.
The offseason didn’t get much better for Purdue. Three coaches were fired in November and three coaches quit in the winter. Tight ends coach Terry Malone was promoted to offensive coordinator / tight end coach, former Syracuse offensive coordinator Tim Lester joined as quarterback coach, Miami Hurricanes’ defensive line coach Randy Melvin joined Purdue’s staff in the same role, and Ross Els joined as defensive coordinator.
Syracuse running backs coach DeAndre Smith and Akron offensive line coach Darrell Funk joined later that year in the same roles at Purdue.
In player changes last year, the Boilermaker’s starting quarterback Austin Appleby left for the University of Florida. Several players were plagued with injuries, including sophomore running back Markell Jones, with a shoulder injury, and left tackle Martesse Patterson, who suffered a knee injury in the fall. Sophomore defensive tackle Will Colmery battled a brain tumor in the offseason and is still out for the year, but is recovering.
Purdue’s 2016 class is ranked as the nation’s 80th recruiting class (14th in the Big Ten) as compared to PSU’s 2016 class ranked at 20th in the nation, 4th in the Big10.
The Boilermakers are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference for 2016. On October 16, head coach Darrell Hazell was fired from Purdue after his fourth season and a 3-3 start this season. Wide receivers coach Gerad Parker will serve as interim head coach moving forward.
Last week Purdue fell to undefeated no. 8 Nebraska 27-14. Purdue’s wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey snagged two touchdowns for the Boilermakers, with 100 total rushing yards, and the Boilermakers led by 4 at halftime, but it wasn’t enough. Purdue couldn’t shut down Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong Jr. who accounted for 303 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, and Nebraska came back after the half for the win.
Purdue returns 68% of their offense (compared to Penn State, who returns 53%). They’re 53rd in total offense, and have battled injury and other issues on their offensive line.
Key positions to watch are the quarterback, running backs and receivers.
Sophomore quarterback David Blough returns, and is currently leading the Big 10 in passing yards and total yards. So far in 2016, Blough has completed 56.3% of his passes for 2,065 yards, and 14 passing touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Oh, and he can be a little bit mobile, too, with 41 carries, 40 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.
Last year running back Markell Jones racked up 875 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 34 receptions for 239 yards and a score. Purdue’s offensive line problems and a nagging shoulder injury have hindered his run game a little this year, but more than halfway through in 2016, Jones has run for 408 yards for 2 touchdowns, and added 18 receptions for 104 yards. Keep an eye on Brian Lankford-Johnson, who has 31 carries for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The team returns 7 of their 8 top receivers with two leaders emerging: Yancey, with 28 receptions and 491 yards for 5 touchdowns, and Domonique Young, with 29 receptions and 338 yards for 1 touchdown.
The Boilermakers are returning 65% of their defense this year (and Penn State returns 63%). The Boilermakers finished 110th in total defense last season, and are 99th in CFB and last in the Big Ten this year, but have hope with quite a few veteran defensive players.
Defensive end Evan Panfil is 4th in Big 10 for tackles for loss with 9.5 TFL so far in 2016; next to him is defensive tackle Jake Replogle, who led the Boilermakers in 2015 with 60 tackles and 12 for a loss. This year he’s racked up 28 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1.5 sacks.
Two of Purdue’s best linebackers are Ja’Whaun Bentley and Danny Ezechukwu, Jr. Bentley boasts 20 tackles and 2 TFL, and Ezechukwu has 19 tackles and 1 TFL. But keep an eye on freshman linebacker Markus Bailey, who boasts 27 tackles and 1 interception for 2016.
Freshman kicker J.D. Dellinger is 4 for 7 attempts with a 37 yard long and 35 points. Punter Joe Schopper is one of the better punters in the conference. In 2015, he had 58 punts, 2,332 yards with a 40.2 average. So far in 2016, Schopper is on track to do well again with 30 punts, 1,213 yards and a 40.4 average.
Wide receiver Malik Kimbrough leads the team in punt returns with 9 returns for 64 yards.
Read more about the Purdue Boilermakers at Hammer and Rails, the SB Nation blog for Purdue.