2017 football schedule analysis: Purdue Boilermakers

2017 football schedule analysis: Purdue Boilermakers

There is only one way to go but up for Purdue, which is coming off the most abysmal four-year run in program history.

Since 2013, the Boilermakers have won nine games. That’s it. Nine. And four of those came vs. FCS foes.

The arrival of Jeff Brohm from Western Kentucky has injected much-needed hope. He has built a nice staff and worked fast and furious to rehab a talent-poor roster. Still, this is gonna take time. And a brutal schedule will do Brohm no favors. Here is a look at Purdue’s 2017 schedule.

2017 schedule
Sept. 2 Louisville (Indianapolis)
Sept. 8 Ohio (Friday)
Sept. 16 at Missouri
Sept. 23 Michigan
Sept. 30 OFF
Oct. 7 Minnesota
Oct. 14 at Wisconsin
Oct. 21 at Rutgers
Oct. 28 Nebraska
Nov. 4 Illinois
Nov. 11 at Northwestern
Nov. 18 at Iowa
Nov. 25 Indiana

Toughest non-conference game: A season-opening game vs. Louisville on Sept. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is a heck of a way for new coach Jeff Brohm to kick off his tenure. The Boilermakers aren’t ready for a program like Louisville, which welcomes back Heisman winner Lamar Jackson from a 9-4 team. The storylines in this game are endless. Brohm is a former Cardinal and Louisville native. And U of L coach Bobby Petrino is a mentor of Brohm’s. These teams met once before, playing to a 22-22 tie in 1987 in game that featured Fred Akers vs. Howard Schnellenberger in Ross-Ade Stadium.

Toughest conference game: The visit from Michigan in the Big Ten opener on Sept. 23 will be a big challenge. But let’s go with the trip to Wisconsin on Oct. 14. The Badgers have beaten the Boilers like a drum for years. The Badgers have won 11 in a row vs. Purdue, which last took down UW in 2003. Since then, Wisconsin has taken games by scores like 62-17, 41-10, 37-0, 34-16 and 38-14. Last season was more of the same, as Wisconsin won, 49-20. Will these beatings ever end?

Who they don’t play: Purdue gets a break by missing Ohio State, Maryland, Penn State and Michigan State.

Easiest game: No game is “easy” for a program that has won nine games in the last four years with just three Big Ten victories—with only one of those coming at home. The visit from Illinois on Nov. 4 in a battle for the Cannon offers some hope for Purdue. Deposed Boilermaker coach Darrell Hazell went 3-24 in the Big Ten from 2013-16—but two of those victories were vs. Illinois, including a 34-31 OT win in Champaign in 2016. But know this: The Fighting Illini have won the last two times they visited Ross-Ade Stadium.

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Toughest stretch: The first three Big Ten games from Sept. 23-Oct. 14 will be difficult. The run begins with a visit from Michigan and is followed by a visit from Minnesota. Then, the Boilermakers go to Wisconsin. The Wolverines and Boilers haven’t met since 2012. Michigan has won the last three in the series, including the last two in West Lafayette. Purdue last toppled the Wolverines in 2009—in Ann Arbor, no less. The Golden Gophers have taken four in a row vs. Purdue, which last beat Minnesota in 2011. New Gopher coach P.J. Fleck lost at Ross-Ade in 2014 as coach of Western Michigan. The last time Purdue beat Wisconsin was in Madison in 2003. UW has won the last five meetings in Camp Randall—and 11 in a row overall vs. the Boilers.

Best chance to be upset: Purdue may not be favored all season, so can it be “upset” this fall? Let’s say the Boilers will be favored in the second game of the season when Ohio visits for a Friday night game on Sept. 8. But the Bobcats are a top MAC program under 72-year-old Frank Solich, who is in his 13th season in Athens owning an 88-67 mark, eight bowls and four division titles. One of those championships came in 2016, when Ohio went 8-6. It would be far from a shock to see the Bobcats leave Ross-Ade Stadium with a victory. The schools last met in 1988, with Purdue prevailing in West Lafayette.

Best chance to pull an upset: Maybe Purdue can find a way to shock Northwestern when it visits Evanston on Nov. 11. NU has won three in a row in the series and has the makings of a good team in 2017. But maybe by this time of the season, Purdue will have found a groove. Maybe. The Boilermakers last beat NU in 2010, taking a 20-17 decision at Ryan Field.

Must win: Goal No. 1 for new Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has to be: stop losing to Indiana. The Hoosiers have taken command of the Old Oaken Bucket series, winning four in a row for the first time since 1944-47. Can Indiana continue its mastery over the Boilermakers in the first clash between Tom Allen and Brohm? Until Purdue gets the upper hand back in this series, making any tangible progress up the standings will be challenging.

Bye week: This comes on Sept. 30, after Purdue has played four games. The timing is good, as the off week falls between visits from Michigan and Minnesota. The break will allow the new staff to reset and adjust as it moves forward. If the Boilers are somehow 2-2 entering the off week, it will be miraculous. No doubt, this staff is going to earn its money this season.

2017 schedule
Sept. 2 Louisville (Indianapolis)
Sept. 8 Ohio (Friday)
Sept. 16 at Missouri
Sept. 23 Michigan
Sept. 30 OFF
Oct. 7 Minnesota
Oct. 14 at Wisconsin
Oct. 21 at Rutgers
Oct. 28 Nebraska
Nov. 4 Illinois
Nov. 11 at Northwestern
Nov. 18 at Iowa
Nov. 25 Indiana

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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