Purdue at Missouri
Time: 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. local time)
TV: SEC Network (Taylor Zarzour, play-by-play; Andre Ware, analyst; Olivia Harlan, sideline)
Radio (Purdue): Sirius 78 / XM 192 / Tunein.com (Tim Newton,play-by-play; Pete Quinn, analyst; Rob Blackman, studio host)
More: Coordinator's Corner: Nick Holt ($) | Bentley making presence known | Mailbag: Defensive line ($) | Big Ten's two stars running backs who have become standouts | Missouri passing game could challenge Purdue | Sparks brothers go head-to-head
Purdue running game vs. Missouri against the run
Was Tario Fuller's 142-yard effort a one-week aberration? Missouri has struggled against the run, ranking 81st nationally, and it seems strange to say this, but the Boilermakers may need to control the clock somewhat due to the predicted heat and the fact the Tigers play fast. Missouri slowed South Carolina, to some extent, in the run game to 4.3 yards an attempt but the Gamecocks held the ball for over 37 minutes. If Purdue runs the ball as it did against Ohio, it has a great chance to win.
Purdue passing game vs. Missouri against the pass
For Purdue to pull the upset, it needs to dominate this category. Missouri is 115th in pass efficiency defense but did limit an opponent to under 200 yards passing for the first time in over a year last week in its 18-point loss to South Carolina. Coach Jeff Brohm seems to have a good thing going with the two-quarterback system, and if the Boilermakers somewhat-unconventional scheme can produce numbers (353 yards) like Missouri State's in Week 1, the Boilermakers will put up points. Yet, the Boilermaker offensive line will be challenged by Missouri's front, but has been up tot the task for the most part so far in 2017.
Missouri running game vs. Purdue against the run
Mizzou has a pretty salty 1-2 punch with Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter, though Crockett is the featured back. Crockett had 202 yards aganst Missouri State in the opener and the duo had 97 and 72 yards respectively in last week's loss to South Carolina though Crockett was nicked up for some of the game. One has to wonder if the Tigers will try to pound the ball a little more on Purdue almost as a show of will, though that is against what Mizzou likes to do, averaging a snap every 17.5 seconds. Still, the first team to negate the other's run game probably wins this one.
Missouri passing game vs. Purdue against the pass
Junior quarterback Drew Lock has a big-league arm and has put up big-league passing yardage numbers. While Lock looks the part, he has a relatively low career completion percentage (53) and has equaled that number to date this season. Another complaint is Lock has put up his biggest numbers against inferior teams (521 vs. Missouri State, 245 against South Carolina). Purdue has to get pressure on Lock and keep its eye on the middle of the field where tight end Jason Reese is starting to be a factor, as evidenced by his long TD reception against the Gamecocks last week.
Kick coverage is still a bit of an issue for both teams, though Purdue improved in Week 2. Missouri gave up a 97-yard kickoff return against South Carolina that changed the entire complexion of the game. The Tigers had a fumbled punt (on a controversial no-call) as well. Purdue's field goal and punt games are trending upward, and that might be a key on Saturday. The teams are nearly even in net punting (Purdue ranked 29th, Missouri 30th) though Mizzou punter Corey Fatoney is averaging 52.5 a kick. But Purdue's Joe Schopper is no slouch, coming in at 49.1.
Missouri's backs are against the wall a bit after losing its SEC opener at home last week to South Carolina, being outscored 31-3 after building a 10-0 lead. It wasn't a surprise that coach Barry Odom fired defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross, but the timing was a bit strange. If the Tigers close ranks and find the intensity sorely lacking in the second half against South Carolina, they should prevail. Still, Brohm has the advantage of opponents underestimating his team, and it seems unlikely Brohm and Co. will be out-schemed. This one is a really hard call.
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