Here’s a quick look at Purdue’s 2018 schedule based on easiest to toughest games.
Yes, I realize some fans may hate this list because there are games you may be more excited about, but as I work on plans to cover games this season, this is how I ranked games in terms of priority and fitting games into my travel budget. But, as usual, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
12. Purdue vs. Eastern Michigan on September 8 – Did you know that Eastern Michigan beat the last Big Ten opponent it faced? Calm down, that win was against Rutgers, so it’s not like Purdue should feel threatened. This game is the perfect second-week opponent to secure an easy home win against.
11. Purdue at Illinois on October 13 – Illinois has lost 12 straight Big Ten games and hasn’t had a winning season since firing Ron Zook in 2011. So, it’s safe to say this should be an easy victory for Purdue, even it’s a road game. The third season of Lovie Smith’s tenure at Illinois isn’t enough to scare me. This should be the easiest Big Ten opponent Purdue will face all season.
10. Purdue vs. Boston College on September 22 – Yes, the Eagles have lost their last 11 games against ranked teams, but they also return a lot of key players that finished last season on an impressive 5-2 run. Boston College had impressive road wins against Louisville and Virginia during that stretch and they took care of business against Florida State at home. This could turn out to be a huge trap game if Purdue has an undefeated record when these two teams meet. The scary thing is a loss to Boston College could prevent Purdue from entering the next week against Nebraska nationally ranked.
9. Purdue vs. Iowa on November 3 – The good news is Purdue is coming off a big road win against the Hawkeyes last season. The bad news is Iowa will be looking for some revenge when they travel to West Lafayette. While most fans are going to be excited for this early November game, looking at the schedule, it’s not a game that I’m not currently excited about. Hence, why it’s so low in these rankings.
8. Purdue at Minnesota on November 10 – This is a road game for Purdue that I’m planning on hopping on a plane to cover as long as Purdue is still in the chase to win the West Division. If Wisconsin stumbles the West is wide open, but, even if Wisconsin is rolling, this game between Purdue and Minnesota will determine who Wisconsin’s biggest threat is and if the game in West Lafayette the following week has implications for Purdue winning the West. Yes, I realize Minnesota was outscored 70-0 over their final two games, but head coach P.J. Fleck will use those losses to fuel workouts this summer and he’s got an amazing recruiting class coming in to challenge upperclassman who may have gotten complacent.
7. Purdue vs. Missouri on September 15 – This is a nonconference game against a Power 5 bowl team with a starting quarterback, Drew Lock, who could be a top ten NFL draft pick if he has a strong season. If that doesn’t wet your whistle I don’t know what will. Plus, there’s going to be a lot on the line for Purdue and Drew Lock in this game, so it should be a fun game to watch. Quick stat: Missouri won their final six games last season while averaging 45.5 points a game. Purdue’s defense is in for a big challenge in this game.
6. Purdue at Nebraska on September 29 – I’m intrigued because this is Scott Frost’s first season in his return to Nebraska. It’s also a game that I am putting high on my priority list to travel to cover with media credentials. It’s also a game that loses a lot of its intrigue if Purdue stumbles out of the gate. I flirted with having this game in my top three, but eventually settled for having it here, just outside of my top five games.
5. Purdue at Michigan State on October 27 – Michigan State rebounded last season with a strong 10-3 record and a Bowl win. They return key cogs on offense in quarterback Brian Lewerke and running back L.J. Scott, which has a lot of fans in East Lansing and even some members of the national media thinking that Michigan State has the potential to be a playoff sleeper team. That may be a bit too optimistic, but it will easily be one of the toughest games on Purdue’s schedule.
4. Purdue vs. Ohio State on October 20 – This will be the first game between these schools since 2013. Purdue has a good chance to be undefeated when this game happens. Measuring stick game against the Big Ten’s best. Revenge for the 56-0 beatdown the last time these two teams met. What’s not to like? Oh, and it’s at home so the fans have a chance to watch a special Big Ten game up close and show a National TV audience on Fox Sports how passionate Boilermaker fans are. Yeah, I said it: this game will be on National TV if Purdue is undefeated when this game is played.
3. Indiana vs. Purdue on November 24 – I feel weird putting this game so high. Is it bad that I value defending the Old Oaken Bucket? Yeah, it’s only bragging rights, but it’s bragging rights for the entire state. It’s also a game that Indiana high school recruits will likely be at, so that has value, too. I also feel that if Purdue is sniffing around at the West Division title, this game has massive value for Purdue.
2. Purdue vs. Northwestern on August 30 – Yes, I’m shocked a game against Northwestern in August is this high, too, but I feel this game sets the tone for the entire season. Ross-Ade Stadium is going to amped for a Thursday night season opener on National TV. But, if Purdue loses this game, it puts a huge damper on the season. It also means that any dreams or hopes of being West Division champs is squashed and Purdue is just fighting to play in a bowl game this season. They also won’t be nationally ranked at any point this season. Hyperbole for the first game of the season? Sadly, I don’t think it is.
1. Purdue vs. Wisconsin on November 17 – Yes, I know I’m going to sound like a homer, but right now, I feel this game will dictate who wins the West Division. For a November game with a chance to the Conference Championship at stake, what’s not to love? Shh… let’s not talk about the fact Purdue has lost 12-straight games to Wisconsin…