WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With its losing skid at five and any hope for a bowl game eliminated, Purdue is seeking motivation with No. 6 Wisconsin coming to visit Saturday and then a season-ending Nov. 26 date at rival Indiana.
Interim head coach Gerad Parker has seen his team (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten) play well during the first half against Nebraska, Penn State, Minnesota and Northwestern, only to be outscored 114-17 the rest of the way against those teams.
With lots of uncertainty about the program’s future, primarily who will be coaching Purdue in 2017, it would be easy for some players and coaches to go through the motions these final two weeks.
Parker believes there’s plenty of reason to be motivated, starting with the Badgers (8-2, 5-2).
"This week is fully and completely about our seniors," Parker said Tuesday. "The staff has continued to work our tails off. The players have as well, and this week is about our seniors playing their last game in Ross-Ade Stadium. It’s a chance for those seniors to play an unbelievable football team in Wisconsin. Those guys want to go out the right way."
Purdue has won only one Big Ten home game — Nebraska in 2015 — during the seniors’ careers and is 3-28 overall in conference play since 2013.
"It’s been hard," Parker said, "Sadly, the reason we are in this position is because of our past. Everything is contagious. Winning is contagious and losing is contagious. I’ve wanted to approach this week by week."
Senior wide receiver Bilal Marshall said the opportunity to stun a top 10 team in his final home game would wipe away some of the frustrations of a four-year career in which Purdue has gone 9-37.
"We have to stick together and not be selfish," Marshall said. "For us seniors, it’s our last two weeks, and our last week in Ross-Ade against a big opponent and obviously, we haven’t seen the Old Oaken Bucket in forever. For our younger guys, we want to finish strong because no one knows what’s going to happen after these last two weeks."
Sophomore quarterback David Blough leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game at 292.1, but he has been intercepted 16 times, one of the reasons the Boilermakers are tied for 126th among the 128 FBS programs in turnover margin at minus-16. Blough’s three interceptions against Northwestern this past Saturday set up 17 Wildcats points in their 45-17 victory.
"We have been in position to succeed and have been coached well, but we haven’t executed, especially on my behalf," Blough said.
NOTES: Purdue ranks last in Big Ten scoring defense (38.4), last in total defense (466.9 yards), 13th in rushing defense (248.8 yards) and 11th in pass defense (218.1 yards) … Parker indicated Tuesday that DT Lorenzo Neal, OT Mike Mendez and RB Richie Worship likely will miss the Wisconsin game because of injuries … Purdue has not beaten Wisconsin in Ross-Ade Stadium since 1997 … Purdue has not won a game in November since beating Indiana in 2012.