Purdue vs. EKU prediction and game preview for the opening contest of the 2016 season. Find out who’s projected to win the matchup between the Boilermakers and the Colonels.
Purdue vs. EKU Game Preview
When: Saturday, Sept. 3 – Noon ET
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
Matchup to Watch
Darrell Hazell vs. Job Security
Mike Bobinski officially takes over as Purdue’s new athletic director two days before the opener, and the Boilermakers likely will need to show significant improvement this season for Hazell to keep his job. Hazell has won six games – two in Big Ten play – through his first three years in West Lafayette, with half of them coming against FCS opponents. A loss to an FCS foe in Eastern Kentucky with Bobinski officially on watch won’t bode well for Hazell’s chances.
David Blough will be the fourth different quarterback to start an opener during Hazell’s tenure after throwing 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 10 games last season. Terry Malone replaces John Shoop as offensive coordinator for a Purdue team that finished 11th in the Big Ten in total offense last season. Expect Markell Jones, who rushed for team highs of 875 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015, to receive plenty of touches.
The Colonels could counter with former Missouri standout quarterback Maty Mauk, who was dismissed from the Tigers after appearing in five games last season following multiple off-the-field incidents. He’s been impressive during camp with EKU while trying to beat out senior Bennie Coney, who completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,471 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2015.
New defensive coordinator Ross Els takes over a Purdue defense that allowed an average of 458.3 yards of total offense last season to rank 12th in the Big Ten. Tackle Jake Replogle returns to an experienced front line looking to improve after allowing six opponents to rush for at least 200 yards.
Eastern Kentucky finished 14th in the FCS against the run and second in the Ohio Valley Conference in total defense.
Advantage: Eastern Kentucky
Edge On Special Teams
The Boilermakers will be relying on mostly newcomers to make an impact, including true freshman kicker J.D. Dellinger.
Punter Keith Wrzuszczak has the potential to be an FCS All-American after breaking the EKU record with an average of 43.7 yards per punt last year.
Advantage: Eastern Kentucky
EKU has visions of jumping to the FBS, and it didn’t feel Dean Hood proved in his eight seasons that he was the man to lead them there. In steps Mark Elder, who gets his first collegiate head coaching job after spending the last three seasons as Tennessee’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Purdue has different men leading the offense and defense, meaning both squads have relatively new coaching staffs.
Purdue vs. EKU Prediction
EKU gives Purdue a major scare, but the Boilermakers eek out win.
Final Score: Purdue 17, EKU 14