It’s game day which means it’s finally time to see if the momentum the Purdue Boilermakers gained from their loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will carry over to the game today. Their opponent today are the Southern Illinois Salukis, who are 3-0 and currently ranked No. 13 in the FCS coaches poll.
The Boilermakers sit 1-2 on the season and have lost the last two games by 17-plus points. While the Central Michigan loss was a disappointment, the loss to Notre Dame had a lot more bright points and should give the Boilers enough momentum to start playing the way many thought they would this year.
This game will be sophomore quarterback Danny Etling’s biggest test so far. He helped the team to a victory in their first game, then was yanked in their loss to Central Michigan and played by far one of his best games against the Irish. Anything less than a solid performance and a Boilermaker victory will not bode well for Etling and his hopes of continuing as the starting quarterback.
Getting the running game going early will be Purdue’s key to victory against the Salukis. Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt should see plenty of action to start the game as their speed and elusiveness has been tough for most teams to handle. If the running game is working, then Etling will have an easier time in the pocket, making his work a bit easier.
On defense the Boilermakers will have to deal with a two-headed monster in the backfield of Southern Illinois. Senior Malcolm Agnew is a transfer from Oregon State and he’s rushed for 455 yards and six touchdowns this season. Then there’s junior Mark Iannotti behind center. He’s completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 639 yards and 10 touchdowns – including a school-record six touchdown passes last week.
Purdue’s defense hasn’t been great this season except for their Game 1 performance, but they were able to hold Notre Dame to 30 points last week and kept their offense in the game until Etling’s ill-timed two interceptions in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers rank 79th in run defense (171 yards per game) and 61st in passing defense (224.7 yards per game).
Even though the Salukis are in the FCS, they shouldn’t be taken lightly, but at the same time there is little reason Purdue shouldn’t win this game. Games like these are scheduled to pad your wins column and the Boilermakers have been unable to take advantage of their “cupcake” games the past couple seasons. Coach Darrell Hazell needs to get his team back on track starting today if they expect to compete at all in conference play.
Final Score: Purdue 37 – Southern Illinois 27