Purdue will be feeling the heat in Houston
September 10, 2011 12:08AM
Updated: November 9, 2011 2:57PM
Purdue played its home opener against Middle Tennessee State on a steamy day, which could help to prepare for what lies ahead.
When the Boilermakers play their first road game of the season at Rice on Saturday afternoon, they should be facing similar weather conditions.
The high temperature in Houston was expected to reach into the mid-90s, with a heat index in excess of 100 degrees — and the on-field temperature probably even considerably higher.
“We’ll have to play very well to be successful at Rice,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “There’s a heat factor in some ways. I was really glad that it was as hot as it was this past Saturday. I think it was great training and great conditioning for our game this weekend in Houston.
“So I thought the heat was a benefit for us Saturday. Obviously, going on the road is a big step for our football team. We have to play well on the road throughout the course of the season to have a great season — might as well get started with that now.”
The Boilermakers (1-0) went 1-4 on the road last season. They have lost their lost three nonconference road games — twice to Notre Dame sandwiched around Oregon — since winning at Toledo to open the 2007 season.
Rice (0-1) started this season, the 100th in program history, with a 34-9 loss at Texas. The Owls trailed just 13-9 with less than six minutes left in the third quarter, before the Longhorns scored the game’s final 21 points.
Rice returned 19 starters from last season’s 4-8 team, including nine on offense. Taylor McHargue returns after also starting at quarterback as a redshirt freshman last season, with injuries limiting him to five games. Running back Sam McGuffie, who transferred from Michigan after his freshman season, led the Owls in rushing and receiving last season; he played two snaps at Texas because of a leg injury, but was expected to return fully against Purdue.
The Boilermakers are 2-1 all-time against the Owls, though the teams last played in 1998, Purdue’s 21-19 victory at Ross-Ade Stadium. Rice is 5-15 all-time against the Big Ten, having lost six straight games since a 40-34 victory at Northwestern in 1997.
“I think we will have an opportunity to win this football game,” Rice coach David Bailiff said. “We’re a mature football team, we’re a talented football team. We have to put it all together. You look at Purdue’s roster, there are a lot of juniors and seniors on that football team also. ... We are going to have to give it our absolute best.”
Key player: Caleb TerBush. Not to go to the well again, promise to go in a different direction next week. But we’ll see if the quarterback can build on last week’s fourth quarter in which Purdue scored 17 points on its three possessions, including that decisive touchdown.
Purdue will win if: The Boilermakers play disciplined defense to contain Rice’s run-first spread offense that contains option and Wildcat components; and reduce their penalties, particularly of the pre-snap variety on offense that plagued them last week.
Rice will win if: The Owls get their offense on track after they — albeit against Texas — gained 224 yards and saw the end of a 76-game streak of scoring at least one touchdown that dated to 2002; and get the better of play at the line of scrimmage with a sound, physical defense that Danny Hope compared to Iowa‚s.
Prediction: Purdue 24, Rice 23
— Compiled by staff writer Michael Osipoff