Both teams are shorthanded at quarterback in this Big Ten cross-division matchup
A crucial Big Ten matchup will help kick off this weekend's schedule when the Purdue Boilermakers host the Maryland Terrapins. This is an important game for both teams, as Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) looks to start a new winning streak, while Purdue (1-4, 0-2) looks to break a three-game losing streak. The Terps rebounded from back-to-back losses last week by becoming the latest team to drop 40-plus points on Rutgers. And after getting trounced by Penn State 35-7 a week ago, the Boilermakers have now lost three straight by a combined score of 107-51. It also marked the fourth time that an opponent has scored 30 or more points against them.
The goal for head coach Mike Locksley is to get the Terrapins back to a bowl game, which hasn't happened since 2016. A win would put Maryland two wins away from bowl eligibility. Jeff Brohm, on the other hand, is trending downwards. After an 0-3 start last year, Brohm guided Purdue to a 6-3 finish, which led to a spot in the Music City Bowl. And after five games in 2017, Brohm had the Boilermakers at 3-2, and they went on to post a 7-6 campaign which was capped with a win over UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Before this current skid, the Boilermakers started out 1-1 and outscored their first two opponents (Nevada and Vanderbilt) 73-58. A fourth straight loss will further jeopardize Purdue's postseason chances. Both teams come into this game with issues at quarterback, and both defenses will be tested.
Maryland at Purdue
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Maryland -3.5
When Maryland Has the Ball
Junior quarterback Josh Jackson will not suit up against Purdue this week. He was taken out of last week's win over Rutgers due to a sprained ankle. Before the injury, Jackson had completed 51 percent of his passes for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns; he was averaging seven yards per attempt; and he had a passer rating of 128.7. Senior Tyrrell Pigrome took over for Jackson and will get the start this week after seeing limited reps earlier this season. Pigrome has completed 17-of-27 passes for 171 yards and has a touchdown pass (with 57 rushing yards and another score for good measure) to his credit.
Pigrome won't have to do it all on his own as he has a strong stable of running backs behind him in sophomore Anthony McFarland Jr. (62 carries, 336 yards, 7 TDs), and juniors Javon Leake (29, 262, 4, 9.0 ypc), and Tayon Fleet-Davis (40, 190, 1). The Terps offensive line has given up 11 sacks this season, and Purdue's defense (which gives up an average of 33 points per game) will look to exploit that weakness. The Boilermakers have posted 12 sacks already this year.
When Purdue Has the Ball
Jeff Brohm's team is also relying on its backup signal-caller to guide the offense. Redshirt senior Elijah Sindelar injured his collarbone at Minnesota two weeks ago (after dealing with knee issues in previous seasons) and is expected to miss a total of six to eight weeks. His season is in jeopardy, so it's a good thing that he was given an extra year of eligibility heading into this season. Sindelar posted 1,007 total yards and was responsible for 10 touchdowns before the injury.
Freshman Jack Plummer has held his own in Sindelar's absence. He's completing half of his throws (50.5 percent) for 545 yards and four touchdowns, with a passer rating of 103.1. He's benefited from a strong crop of pass catchers who have given defenses fits all season. Wide receivers Rondale Moore (13.3 yards per catch), David Bell (17.6), Amad Anderson Jr. (13.3), Jackson Anthrop (9.1), and tight end Brycen Hopkins (14.6) have collectively caught 93 passes for 1,258 yards and nine scores. But Maryland's pass defense will test this Boilermaker team as the Terps have registered 16 sacks, 15 pass deflections, and five interceptions in 2019.
The Terps are a better defensive team and have proven that they can keep the offense at full throttle without Jackson. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, have lost six of their last 10 home games and have gone 5-6 in their last 11 Big Ten matchups. Maryland leaves West Lafayette with the win, but Purdue will make the Terps sweat a little bit.
Prediction: Maryland 35, Purdue 32
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.