December 03, 2012
The BCS divines have ruled and Oklahoma State has been found wanting. Comparable to the ugly kid whom no one picked for their team during recess, the Cowboys dropped from a possible Cotton Bowl bid — past vanquished conference foes TTU and TCU — to a largely unknown bowl deep in the heart of Texas Dallas. But hey — it's a New Year's bowl, so why cry over spilled milk? When the BCS gives the Cowboys lemons, we make lemonade. Or something. In any case, here's a first look at the next opponent, the Purdue Boilermakers.
Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue finished the season 6-6 with signature wins over Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan (notice a trend?), and Marshall. After taking Notre Dame to the wire in non-conference play, the Boilermakers found themselves in a five game (!!) conference losing streak — snapped by a last second (FG) upset over Iowa. A close, 20-17 win over Illinois was followed by a convincing 56-35 win over rival Indiana to end their regular season. Interestingly, due to a schedule quirk, Purdue played their last game a full two weeks before OSU was rolled by the Tarp in Waco. Since their win over Indiana and following "four lackluster seasons", Coach Danny Hope was summarily fired. As of this writing, the Boilermakers have yet to name a replacement — although it is rumored that Head Coach Mike Gundy remains a leading candidate.
A quick look at the statistics shows a mid-level offensive team who played two quarterbacks extensively. Between Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, Marve appears the more formidable passing threat while neither quarterback appears very mobile. Defensively, Purdue appears to be only slightly ahead of the vaunted Oklahoma State defense in national ranking; somewhere between sieve and swiss cheese. Statistically speaking, no player on either side of the ball stands out. Special teams appears to be a "mixed bag" as the kicking game has struggled at times while the return game has logged a few great moments (most notably against Penn State). Amazingly, Purdue averages fewer punt return yards per attempt than OSU...which probably tells you all you need to know about Purdue special teams.
On paper, at least, Oklahoma State should be favored in this game; although it remains to be seen how the Cowboys will respond in the weeks to come as several external factors appear poised to wreak havoc on team morale and preparedness. Hopefully, the next few weeks will bring clarity to a number of situations — making the handicapping of this game a more straightforward endeavor.