Hoosiers hungry for rematch with Purdue

Now that Purdue week is upon them, Indiana’s players and coaches can admit it.

Thoughts of the Boilermakers have remained with them.

Peyton Ramsey thinks about the signs posted all through the halls of Memorial Stadium, “What have you done today to beat Purdue?” Offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who came over from Fresno State in January, remembers seeing Purdue-related signs when he first arrived, figuring it was just left-overs from the last game of the season.

“Well, they are still up,” DeBoer said. “It didn’t take long to understand how important this game is.”

This week is critical for several reasons. It’s the next game after Michigan, a disappointing defeat the Hoosiers are trying to quickly forget. It’s also the next game versus a hated rival — a foe that’s erased IU’s bowl hopes two years in a row via season-ending defeats.

“It was a very, very difficult offseason to have to sit there and kind of have that over your head, in your heart,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “But that’s just being real. That’s the truth. It’s been something that we obviously have been setting aside, when the time is right. Now is the time.

“Our entire focus is on the Purdue Boilermakers.”

Monday’s press conference did involve some digesting of a 39-14 defeat to the Wolverines. Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack acknowledged that IU didn’t win enough one-on-one matchups, whether it was covering Michigan’s athletic receivers, or pass-rushing quarterback Shea Patterson.

Offensively, a 14-point output was the Hoosiers’ lowest since a 51-10 loss to Ohio State in Week 3. But with six straight games of 30-plus points strung together after OSU and before Penn State, DeBoer and his unit have enough confidence to quickly dispense of last weekend’s disappointment.

Michigan is rolling right now. IU just needs to stay on track.

“We have to give credit where credit is due, look ourselves in the mirror, figure out where we can get better, and understand we are still the same offense,” DeBoer said. “Let’s not dig too deep into this. Let’s regroup.”

Purdue gives the Hoosiers a readymade point of focus.

Hunter Littlejohn, the senior center, remembers what it was like to watch his teammates claim the Old Oaken Bucket his first two years, filled with pride. He also remembers what it was like for Purdue to take custody the next two years, winning by one-touchdown margins.

“I think you’ve always got Purdue in the back of your mind, especially this year,” Littlejohn said. “We’ve fallen just a little short the last two. It’s definitely a goal of ours. This is a game we want and have to win. But I think it just heightens the intensity of your daily routine. I think it becomes a little more heightened.”

IU will put everything it has into this one. There is still a question, though, of who will be available.

Allen offered one piece of positive news when he said junior receiver Whop Philyor, who missed last weekend’s contest as he recovered from a concussion, should be ready for Saturday’s game at Purdue.

On the other hand, freshman left tackle Matthew Bedford and sophomore running back Stevie Scott aren’t certain. They were both injured on the second-to-last play of the third quarter against Michigan.

“Still unsure of them. We’ll know later in the week,” Allen said. “Lower-leg injuries for both of those guys. Nothing longer-term for them. Seeing if we could get them back. That would be the hope.”

If Bedford is unable to play, that would move redshirt sophomore Caleb Jones from right tackle to left, while senior DaVondre Love inserts on the right side.

There are certainly options at running back, namely sophomore Ronnie Walker and freshman Sampson James. But Scott, who has taken 178 carries this season, has substantially more than James (48) and Walker (17).

James, the four-star recruit from Avon, finished with nine carries for 28 yards last Saturday, including a 12-yard gain on the final drive. The freshman has continued to progress despite limited opportunities this season.

“When he hits the pile, it’s usually moving forward. He’s very heavy in his running style,” DeBoer said. “Have no problems with those guys. Obviously, Stevie, who he is, experience factor and all that, is important. It’s something, if he cannot go, it certainly is a loss.”

There is also some intrigue as far as who the Boilermakers will have available. Sophomore receiver Rondale Moore has missed six consecutive games with a left hamstring injury but hasn’t been ruled out completely for Saturday.

“I guess I’m always assuming that Rondale Moore can play,” Wommack said, a smirk on his face. “He’s a very special player. You never want to have to face somebody like that, but you also don’t want someone to have to go through injuries. That’s why you come to the big ten so you can play the best of the best.

“If he is out there, we look forward to the matchup.”

At quarterback, Purdue is down to a third-stringer, walk-on Aidan O’Connell, who threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns versus Wisconsin last weekend.

“A lot like the (Elijah) Sindelar kid, in my mind, as far as his strength, his arm. He’s very accurate,” Allen said. “Just stands in there and runs the offense. It’s impressive what they’ve been able to do in the midst of that.”

There is certainly respect between Allen and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm. Allen just doesn’t want the Boilermakers to look impressive this coming Saturday.

It will take all of the Hoosiers’ attention to make sure that doesn’t happen — and that the bucket returns to Bloomington.

“Bottom line is that they’re going to play extremely hard, play extremely well, have a good plan,” Allen said. “We’ll have to play our very, very best on the road to get this very important win for our program.”


  1. IU better play physically smart meaning very physically without stupid penalties or IU will get beat…if IU is going to continue this feel good IU season. 8 or 9 wins will be feel good for IU but if IU beats Purdue the bowl game quality of team will go up and IU will have a hard time making that a competitive game unless surprise. Examples are bowl games with Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State plus that’s what happened to Purdue last year in bowl game.

  2. Warning! Purdue, even in losing, lit up the Badgers for 336 yds in the air. That likely equates to about 450 this Saturday.

Comments are closed.