After four consecutive last-place division finishes, Purdue fired coach Darrell Hazell and hired Jeff Brohm from Western Kentucky, and the Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) immediately became competitive. They’ve had a seven-point loss to Louisville, routed Missouri 35-3 in Columbia and led Michigan at halftime before losing.
Player to watch
QB David Blough (above), who shares time with Elijah Sindelar, is the more accurate passer (70 percent to 48.4) and leads an offense that is perfect in 15 red zone trips (11 TDs, four field goals).
Gophers offense vs. Boilermakers defense
Though the Gophers catch a first-half break with two Purdue starters — linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and safety Jacob Thieneman — out because of targeting, the Boilermakers will have seven seniors in starting roles. Advantage: Purdue
Gophers defense vs. Boilermakers offense
With starting safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. (hamstring) and Duke McGhee (suspension) out, the Gophers have matchup problems against Purdue’s diversified offense. Advantage: Purdue
The Gophers’ Emmit Carpenter missed a 42-yard field goal attempt vs. Maryland, and Ryan Santoso put two kickoffs out of bounds. Both should rebound. Purdue has yet to make a field goal of longer than 38 yards. Advantage: Gophers
Blough passed for 391 yards and four TDs vs. the Gophers last year, although in a loss. Purdue will have an advantage in emotion as it honors the winningest coach in Boilermakers history, Joe Tiller, who died last Saturday at 74. Advantage: Purdue
RJ’s prediction: Purdue 27, Gophers 17
Purdue has played a tougher schedule, and the Gophers’ weaknesses showed vs. Maryland.