Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush (19) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: October 16, 2012 6:11AM
urdue has had a couple of slip-ups against Mid-American Conference opponents in recent seasons.
The Boilermakers lost to Northern Illinois in 2009, and to Toledo in 2010. They’ve also beaten Toledo in 2009, Ball State in 2010, and Western Michigan in last season’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Purdue (1-1) shouldn’t have an overly difficult time putting MAC member Eastern Michigan (0-2) in that latter category. Coming off a narrow loss at Notre Dame, the Boilermakers are focused on the Eagles, before their bye week.
“We’re still salty from Saturday, so we’re trying to carry it over to this Saturday, and prove a point that we’re going to play like this throughout the year, and positive things should come from it,” defensive tackle and East Chicago Central graduate Kawann Short said. “We’re not taking anybody for granted. These guys are pretty good.”
Eastern Michigan averaged 218.3 yards rushing last season, good enough for 14th in the country, and returned nine starters on offense, including dual-threat quarterback (mostly running) Alex Gillett and three linemen. But the Eagles have averaged 141.5 in their two losses, 37-26 at Ball State (allowing 596 yards) and 31-14 to FCS Illinois State (rushing for 103 yards against coach Brock Spack, the former Purdue linebacker and defensive coordinator).
“They’re a tough football team,” said Boilermakers coach Danny Hope, also comparing Eastern Michigan to Rice, which beat Purdue last season.
“Their offense can certainly present some problems for you with the experience that they have coming back and guys understanding the scheme. We’ll have to be very sure of our assignments from a defensive standpoint, and I think we’ll match up very well against them, but we’re going to have to play well because they do some things that they’re good at.”
In the teams’ only previous meeting, Purdue downed Eastern Michigan 49-3 in 1991 at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“We need to play well this Saturday,” Hope said. “We need to add to what we’ve done so far, add to the momentum behind our football team. We need to correct the little things that we’re not doing to a degree of excellence right now, and take a step as a football team, and play our best game this Saturday.
“It’s pretty obvious that if we can play a little bit better, we’re going to be tough to beat, regardless of who we play, regardless of where it’s at, regardless of whether or not we get good calls or not, tough calls or not. We came away from the (Notre Dame) game obviously disappointed that we didn’t win, but very encouraged about our potential as a football team. This outfit, they really want to win. They’re self motivated. There’s not any selfishness on our football team. They all pull the rope in the same direction.”
That apparently includes the quarterback position, where Caleb TerBush figures to get most of the snaps, with Rob Henry also playing, after Robert Marve’s latest ACL injury.
“We just have to come out fast. … We have to come out from the get-go, and play fast and strong,” TerBush said.
Key player: Kevin Pamphile. Purdue’s offensive line needs to elevate its level of play, and Pamphile was expected to see time at both left tackle and left guard.
Purdue will win if: The Boilermakers just play a fundamentally sound game, and don’t commit an inordinate number of turnovers.
Eastern Michigan will win if: The Eagles control the tempo with their running game, a challenge against Purdue’s increasingly staunch defensive line.
Prediction: Purdue 38, Eastern Michigan 10
— Staff writer Michael Osipoff