Tigers look to avenge last year's 35-3 loss against now-struggling Purdue
The Missouri-Purdue series was renewed last season for the first time since 1980 (a 28-25 Purdue win in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis). The Boilermakers came out on top last year as well — dominating the Tigers in Columbia 35-3 — to extend its winning streak in the series to four games and keep Missouri winless in the matchup since 1953.
Things look a bit different this season. Missouri did not let up in Week 2 against Wyoming after a season-opening 37-point win over FCS opponent UT Martin. Drew Lock threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys and ran for 51 more on five carries. Damarea Crockett chipped in with 73 yards on 19 carries, with Tyler Badie and Larry Rountree combining for another 80 yards. Emanuel Hall had a monster day, catching nearly one-third (10) of Lock’s 33 completions for 171 yards and a touchdown. Saturday was Hall’s second straight game going for exactly 171 yards, torching the Skyhawks and then the Cowboys to start off 2018.
Purdue hasn’t had the kind of start to the season that many in West Lafayette had envisioned. A four-point Week 1 home loss to Northwestern was disappointing, but following that with a one-point loss — also at home — to Eastern Michigan was a shocker. After Purdue kicker Spencer Evans missed a PAT in the second quarter, the Eagles hung with the Boilermakers, and with EMU trailing 19-17 down the stretch, kicker Chad Ryland nailed a 24-yard field goal as time expired to pull off the stunning 20-19 win.
Missouri at Purdue
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Missouri -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Purdue's struggling defense vs. Missouri's high-octane offense
Through only two weeks, Purdue has allowed over 408 yards per game to Northwestern and Eastern Michigan, worst in the Big 10 and in the bottom 40 teams nationally. Missouri presents one of the toughest tests Purdue will face all year, as the Tigers have amassed 1,159 total yards in two games. If the Boilermakers can’t fix their struggles and keep Missouri from moving the ball at will, this one could get ugly quickly.
2. Third time the (third) charm for Hall?
It sounds unthinkable for Emanuel Hall to go for 171 yards (or more) again, but he did so in Week 1 on just four catches, and he did it again last week on 10 receptions. That stretch has Hall atop the SEC and ranked second in the FBS in receiving yards per game. If Lock has anywhere near the success this week that he enjoyed the first two weeks, look for his top target to have another huge game.
3. Which O-line steps up?
One of the largely unnoticed aspects of Missouri’s offensive success through two games is its play in the trenches. The Tigers are one of 12 FBS teams yet to allow a sack in 2018, while Purdue has allowed three in two games. Purdue QBs Elijah Sindelar and David Blough combined to go 14-for-24 for just 135 yards and a touchdown last week, so Purdue will need to give their signal-callers enough time to push the ball and keep pace with Missouri.
Missouri enters West Lafayette with the upper hand in momentum for a rematch 364 days after that 35-3 loss in Columbia a season ago. The Tigers and Boilermakers are headed in opposite directions to begin the 2018 campaign, with Purdue a surprising 0-2 after two weeks. Missouri’s offense is just too potent right now, and Purdue does not look like it can get enough pressure to slow down the Tigers at all.
Prediction: Missouri 45, Purdue 21
— Written by Juan Jose Rodriguez, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Rodriguez was an intern for Athlon during summer 2017 and works for a variety of media outlets on campus, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @JuanJoseRG02.