By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma State faces Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Here’s a quick look at the Boilermakers:
Conference - Big Ten
Record – 6-6 overall, 3-5 in the Big Ten
Best win – 56-35 over Indiana
You may scoff at the opponent, but it’s tough to find a better win among Purdue’s underwhelming list (Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana). There’s not a bowl-eligible team among the six, which speaks loudly toward the general ineptness in the Big Ten this season, eventually won by an 8-5 Wisconsin team. So I’ll go with a nice 21-point season-ending blowout of an in-state rival to backdoor your way into a bowl.
Worst loss – 44-28 at Minnesota
Purdue’s losses are far more impressive than some of its wins. In all truth, a few of them actually legitimize their bowl eligibility, even if they didn’t help the Boilermakers get there. We’ll go with Minnesota as the worst defeat. The Golden Gophers aren’t good. But how about the Ohio State game? Or the Notre Dame game? Purdue put legitimate scares in both of the country’s unbeaten teams, taking the Buckeyes to overtime (one of two teams to do so) and losing to the Fighting Irish on a last-minute field goal.
Not great, not terrible. Just Purdue being Purdue. The Boilermakers won six games and lost six games, equaling their record from a year ago and eclipsing the mark they put up in the previous three. Nationally, they’ve been irrelevant for a while, struggling to stay above warted in the Big Ten and considering any bowl recognition a good one.
Best player – RB Akeem Shavers
No one really jumps off the page at you, with the skill positions lacking standout skill. But this senior running back was productive for Purdue, leading the team with 778 rushing yards and six touchdowns. And Shavers last game was his best, going for 127 rushing yards (a season-high) and 99 receiving yards (a career-high), to go along with three touchdowns.
Akeem Shavers leads Purdue with six rushing touchdowns. Three Oklahoma State players (QB J.W. Walsh and RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith) have more. Randle has 14, while Walsh and Smith both have seven.
Oklahoma State opened as 14.5-point favorites over Purdue. The line has moved up to 18.5. That’s the biggest spread of any of the 35 bowl games.
-Even after finishing the season on a three-game win streak, Purdue fired coach Danny Hope.
-Fascinating read from CBS’ Bruce Feldman on Purdue quarterback Robert Marve. It’s from a month ago, but still interesting, tracing Marve’s career-path from the University of Miami to Purdue.
Because if this doesn’t get you fired up for the Heart of Dallas Bowl (at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day), I don’t know what will!!!