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Indiana Hoosiers vs. Purdue Boilermakers: Preview, predictions and prognostications

When: Sat. Nov. 28; noon ET
Where: West Lafayette, Ind.; Ross-Ade Stadium (57,236)
TV: BTN
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 72-39-6
Last Meeting: Indiana win, 23-16 (Nov. 2014)
Line: Indiana -5.5

1 Burning Question: Can Indiana Buck History? 

History suggests the Hoosiers hopes and dreams are about to be dashed on Saturday afternoon. IU comes in to this game needed a win to get to bowl eligibility for sure, but history in this series and in its own self suggest this won’t be an easy task.

Indiana hasn’t won three in a row in this series since the 1940’s when it won four in a row (1944-1947). Even with Purdue at rock bottom as a program, this Old Oaken Bucket game is something the Boilermakers desperately want to win.

While the Boilermakers are desperate to beat their rival, Indiana has a seven-year bowl game drought to try to erase. The last time was the 2007 Insight Bowl, where the Hoosiers lost 49-33 to Oklahoma State.

A win on Saturday erases all of negative history, but could it be a bridge too far for the Hoosiers?

2 Key Stats:

— -5: That is the total of the negative yards gained by Purdue running back Markell Jones this season. For an offense that has struggled almost everywhere, Jones’ ability to get positive yards in nearly all of his 152 carries so far this season is pretty insane. It also could come in handy for the Boilermakers chances of pulling off this victory.

— 56: That is Indiana’s highest point total in this matchup, coming in the 2013 season. Let’s just say, Indiana’s offense could be in for a record-setting kind of day given what Purdue put on the field on defense last week and how explosive the Hoosiers offense is. Could that number be in danger in this matchup?

3 Key Players:

Jordan Howard, Indiana RB: The Hoosiers running back has picked up right where Tevin Coleman left off. He leads the Big Ten with 134.8 rushing yards per game and is one of the most explosive running backs in the country. However, he has also been a bit fragile and Indiana’s offense changes a bit when he’s not available. Last week he got only three carries, but he is listed as the starter for this week’s matchup. How long he goes could be a very interesting development in this game.

Frankie Williams, Purdue CB: If Purdue wants to have a chance in this one it needs to find a way to slow down the passing attack of Indiana. Williams is easily the most experienced and best equipped to attempt to try it. He’s second on the team with three interceptions and will have plenty of opportunities to get more on Saturday. Look for his matchup with Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones to be a key to Purdue’s chances of winning.

Austin Appleby, Purdue QB: With David Blough likely out with concussion symptoms suffered last week, Appleby will be called on to lead this team to an improbable victory. He was impressive in relief last week, scoring 13 unanswered points and getting the Boilermakers within striking distance. He also was 23 of 40 for 259 yards and one touchdown. More of that this week and it could be an interesting offseason in West Lafayette.

4 Bold Prognostications:

— Devine Redding leads Indiana in rushing: Jordan Howard is nowhere near 100 percent, and that means there are going to be carries to be had for Devine Redding. He was impressive last weekend against a terrible Maryland defense, Purdue is not exactly a giant step up. Look for Redding to carry the day if Howard is a no-go or gets knocked out again.

— Indiana Gets Historic Win: Winning against your rival is always sweet, but winning on their home turf, extending a historic win streak and becoming bowl eligible all at the same time is pretty sweet. Spoiler alert…I believe that’s exactly what is going to happen.

— Austin Appleby makes Indiana’s defense look amazing: Appleby started the season as the starter for a reason, but he just couldn’t be consistent enough to get the job done. He was his better self last week, but don’t expect that to extend to this weekend. Indiana’s defensive line is explosive enough to make his life difficult and he’ll throw a few balls that shouldn’t be thrown.

— Markell Jones will lead all rushers: As the Boilermakers realize the passing game isn’t working, Jones will get more and more carries. He also will start off with a few big runs and prove why the ground game needs to be how Purdue wins. Look for Jones to rip off enough explosive runs to lead all rushers in this contest. The problem is, all those yards won’t equal touchdowns.

5 Staff Predictions:

Andy: Indiana 48-24 (82-23 overall; 50-54 ATS)
Dave: Indiana 38-35 (86-19 overall; 56-47 ATS)
Greg: Indiana 45-31 (79-26 overall; 61-42 ATS)
Matt: Indiana 45-38 (83-22 overall; 58-45 ATS)
Phil: Indiana 48-30 (38-14 overall; 19-30 ATS) *joined in Week 5

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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