Jeff Brohm is way ahead of schedule with his rebuilding job at Purdue, guiding the Boilermakers to a 2-1 record, including a dominating performance last week on the road at Missouri.
“Very proud of the football team and the staff. It was a big win for us,” said Brohm on Monday.
Beating an SEC team 35-3 on its home field – even a bad SEC team – has to help a new head coach like Brohm instill confidence in his players that what he has them doing will lead to success.
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Purdue’s only loss so far was by a touchdown to a ranked Louisville team led by Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
But now comes another challenge with the start of Big Ten action and the task of having to open up against Michigan.
The good news? The game is at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. The bad news? Some jokester in the Purdue athletic department decided this would be a good game to schedule as homecoming.
“There’s a lot of speed. We’ve got our hands full,” said Brohm of the Wolverines.
Jim Harbaugh’s team has won all three of its games, including a win over another SEC school in Florida (33-17). But the Wolverines have struggled in the red zone and quarterback Wilton Speight has only competed 54 percent of his passes for three touchdowns with two interceptions. He’s averaging only 190.3 yards per game passing.
Michigan also is converting just 34 percent of third-down attempts and has only one TD in 10 trips inside the red zone.
‘”They’re going to try to continue to pound the ball at you, not do things to beat themselves,” said Brohm. “So while they may not be scoring, I don’t know if they’re beating themselves. That’s kind of the key to winning.”
It’s also worked for the Boilermakers so far. While Brohm’s reputation at Western Kentucky was built around having a high-powered offense, he’s adjusted to the talent he has with Purdue and has them embracing a balanced attack that has worked.
“I’d love to be able to come in here and throw it every play. We’re just not ready for that. That’s not our team right now.” Said Brohm. “Right now in order to succeed and win, we’ve got to have balance.
“We have to be able to run the football, play-action, be able to move in the pocket, misdirection, take a few shots here and there, be smart with it, not lose the game for us … Right now we’re going to try to be as smart as we can while we get better in the passing game.”
David Blough has had to share the quarterback duties with Elijah Sindelar, but Bough has established himself as the starter with a 76 percent completion rate with six touchdown passes. Tario Fuller leads Purdue in rushing with 261 yards (6.1 per carry) and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Purdue’s defense has forced eight turnovers, including six fumble recoveries. “Our guys are feeling it right now,” said Brohm. “They’ve worked hard. They put in the time. … I’m proud of the effort and where we’re at. I think they are hungry for more. That’s all you can ask for.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Georgia Southern at Indiana, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, BTN
Rutgers at Nebraska, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, BTN
Michigan at Purdue, Saturday 3 p.m. CT, FOX
Penn State at Iowa, Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ABC
Notre Dame at Michigan State, Saturday 7 p.m. CT, FOX
- Penn State (3-0): Last Week – W, Georgia State, 56-0. The Impact – The Nittany Lions are hoping old-school formula of strong running game and stingy defense will be enough to rule Big Ten.
- Ohio State (2-1, 1-0):Last Week – W. Army, 38-7. The Impact – Some Buckeyes fans are questioning whether J.T. Barrett, a two-time all-conference QB, is good enough to be their starter. Seriously.
- Wisconsin (3-0):Last Week – W, at BYU, 40-6. The Impact – Alex Hornibrook only misfired once, finishing with 256-yards and four TDs against BYU by completing 18 of 19 passes.
- Michigan (3-0):Last Week – W, Air Force, 29-13. The Impact – Wolverines should be wary of having targets on their backs with inspired Boilermakers looking for signature win for Jeff Brohm.
- Maryland (2-0):Last Week – Idle. Impact – The Terps have scored 51 and 63 points in first two games. Can they score 70-plus against UCF, which hasn’t played since Aug. 3? Unlikely.
6. Iowa (3-0): Last Week – W, North Texas, 31-14. The Impact – Hawkeyes are unbeaten, but so are Nittany Lions, who have allowed only two touchdowns through three games.
7. Minnesota (3-0): Last Week – W, Middle Tennessee, 34-3 The Impact – P.J. Fleck’s rowboat Navy will be difficult to steer off course now that they’ve built up a head of stream and have week to coast.
8. Purdue (2-1):Last Week – W, at Missouri, 35-3. The Impact: Boilermakers keep swinging the hammer, but will that be enough to pound the Wolverines into submission?
9. Michigan State (2-0):Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Because they haven’t had a tough game and are coming off a bye week, the Spartans will know more about themselves after hosting the Fighting Irish.
10. Indiana (1-1):Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Will Hoosiers be able to regain momentum from road win at Virginia after being forced to take last Saturday off?
11. Northwestern (2-1): Last Week – W, Bowling Green, 49-7. The Impact – Wildcats will have to wait a week to learn if they are ready for Big Ten competition.
12. Illinois (2-1): Last Week – L, at South Florida, 41-23/ The Impact – Illini defense gets a week off to regroup, then gets to ease into Big Ten action against struggling Nebraska.
13. Nebraska (1-2):Last Week – L, Northern Illinois, 21-14. The Impact – Cornhuskers have lost two in a row, which means the timing couldn’t be better for sputtering Rutgers to visit.
14. Rutgers (1-2):Last Week – W, Morgan State, 65-0. The Impact – Scarlet Knights have to be encouraged after 65-0 romp against a bad FCS school, but they’ve still lost their last 14 conference games.
(All times Central; projected winners in bold caps)
UNLV at OHIO STATE, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, BTN
Central Florida at MARYLAND, Saturday, 2 p.m., FS1
Georgia Southern at INDIANA, Saturday 2:30 p.m., BTN
Rutgers at NEBRASKA, Saturday 2:30 p.m., BTN
MICHIGAN at Purdue, Saturday 3 p.m., FOX
PENN STATE at Iowa, Saturday 6:30 p.m., ABC
NOTRE DAME at Michigan State, Saturday 7 p.m., FOX
Last Week: 9-2
Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten by Wednesday, the SEC by Thursday and ACC by Friday. I covered teams in each of the conferences during my 41 years as a sports journalist and I’m not ready to give it up in retirement.