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Minnesota Football: Know Thy Enemy - Purdue Boilermakers

Get to know Purdue a little bit before the Gophers head to West Lafayette

NCAA Football: Purdue at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Who are we talking about?

The Gophers are heading to West Lafayette to play Purdue in a game that is really critical to both team’s seasons. Back in August I inquired with Travis from Hammer and Rails to get a little perspective about the 2021 version of the Boilermakers. Travis is one of my favorite Big Ten SBN bloggers and great to collaborate with. He was kind enough to give us some insight into the Boilermakers this year.

Purdue comes into this game with a 3-1 record. Last week they pulled out a win over Illinois is what was really an ugly game. Prior to that they were beat by Notre Dame by 14.

Key departures

  • Rondale Moore - Drafted by Arizona Cardinals
  • Derrick Barnes - Drafted by Detroit Lions
  • Lorenzo Neal - NFL undrafted free agent.

Key returnees

  • David Bell - He’s an all-Big Ten caliber receiver and maybe an All-American. He has torn things up the last two seasons and is probably off to the NFL after this year.
  • George Karlaftis - Another all-Big Ten caliber player at defensive end. He was limited last season with an ankle injury in game 2 and Purdue’s season really went south afterwards. Definitely Purdue’s best defender.
  • DeMarcus Mitchell - A very pleasant surprise for Purdue at linebacker last season.
  • Jack Plummer - Does he seize the QB position? He has the experience and if the line holds up, he can do well.

Newcomers who may have an impact?

Oh goodness, too many to count. Purdue is completely overhauling the defense with a new coordinator and a wealth of D-I transfers. Tyler Witt is also a significant addition to the offensive line from Western Kentucky.

What’s your team’s biggest strength?

The offense is hopefully fun again. We need to get back to swashbuckling Brohm and with Bell on the outside Purdue has one of the best receivers in the country. If it finds a running game (wildly inconsistent a year ago) we’re going to score points.

What’s your team’s biggest weakness?

Will the defensive questions be answered. Purdue was awful at getting off the field on third downs last year and that is why it lost games to Rutgers and Nebraska it should not have lost. There needs to be a pass rush aside from “Let Karlaftis do everything”.

Brief overview of 2021 expectations:

Get back to a bowl. It is a critical season for Jeff Brohm. His first two showed a lot of promise, but year 3 was derailed by a rash of injuries (really? Y’all took down Elijah Sindelar and Rondale Moore on the same play?” and last year wasn’t consistent for anyone in the country. It felt like six glorified scrimmages. Purdue has an easy-ish start with Oregon State, UConn, and Illinois sandwiched around a game at Notre Dame and I think we need to be 3-1 headed into the Minnesota game with that.

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

Bell or Karlaftis. Bell can be a 100-1,000-10 receiver and Karlaftis has the potential to be our best defensive end in years.

Predict your team’s record and what happens in the Minnesota game.

I am gonna go with 7-5, with the potential for more if we can pull off the Minnesota game. I hope this team plays very angry against Minnesota after the shenanigans that happened at the end of last year’s game.

Fun Fact about this year’s team?

We get to play Notre Dame for the first time since 2014 after playing them every year between 1946-2014. We also have two non-conference road games since we’re also going to UConn.