For the first time in nearly 50 years, West Lafayette will play host to the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University. Both teams ride the highs of blowout wins over two very different opponents. Purdue (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) defeated Vanderbilt University 42-24 in its home opener, and TCU (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) ran University of Arkansas Pine Bluff out of Fort Worth 39-7.
This weekend, the two franchises clash under the lights of Ross-Ade. As Purdue’s last game before the Big Ten season opens in force, a win on Saturday would be valuable insulation before a slate of historically tough competition. For TCU, a win would provide new momentum after a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big 12 last season.
Comparing stats from this season are a little awkward, as the Horned Frogs play their second game of the season this weekend, where Purdue plays its third. Anecdotal evidence and last season’s stats are our friends here.
TCU’s defense has been repeatedly touted as strong, and it’s not hard to see why. The Horned Frogs allowed 3.7 rushing yards per attempt and 11.3 passing yards per completion in 2018. This is a stifling defense that would overwhelm a lesser offense.
As displayed in the last two weeks and last season, Purdue is far from a lesser offense. Purdue’s core offensive wideouts, sophomore Rondale Moore, freshman David Bell and redshirt freshman Amad Anderson Jr. can tear up the field, and Purdue has gunslinger quarterbacks to feed them passes.
Under normal circumstances, Purdue could easily hang with TCU and would stand a solid chance of winning, but normal circumstances are anathema to the Big Ten, and the Boilermakers have recently been hit with a string of injuries.
Elijah Sindelar’s concussion, suffered against Vanderbilt, could leave him on the sidelines Saturday, Matt McCann is questionable after an ankle injury last weekend and Markus Bailey is out for the season after suffering a knee injury during Tuesday’s practice. The three fifth-years were cornerstones of the team, and the Boilers will sorely miss them this weekend.
This isn’t to say that Purdue is completely hopeless. The defense needs to hold together long enough to give the Boilermakers some offensive looks. The offensive line is relatively whole, which should give untested redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Plummer time to put together plays.
ESPN’s oddsmakers favor TCU this weekend by a field goal, and it’s not such a long shot after Purdue’s injury woes. It’s a small spread, but Purdue will more than likely cover it. It may seem like heresy to call this, but TCU has the better chance here.
Steven’s Pick: TCU 31- 30 Purdue
Miscellaneous Prediction: Based on a Tennessee lawmaker calling to remove higher education after University of Tennessee’s loss to Brigham Young University, the earth will open up and swallow Knoxville if Tennessee loses to Chattanooga this week.