Purdue needs 1 win for bowl eligibility

BY foxsports • November 18, 2011

Albert Evans didn't get caught up in the excitement of Purdue's upset win over Ohio State.

Though the victory put the Boilermakers on the verge of bowl eligibility, the senior safety bluntly told the team it hasn't accomplished anything.

That's exactly what Purdue coach Danny Hope wanted to hear from the team's leaders.

''I appreciate Albert addressing it like that,'' Hope said. ''That's one thing I like about Albert, he's always direct, very brutally honest, doesn't sugarcoat anything. I think he hit the nail right on the head.''

A win at home against Iowa on Saturday or at Indiana next week would make Purdue bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, when Joe Tiller was still the coach and most of the seniors were still in high school. While Hope is proud of what the Boilermakers have done to get into this position, including upset wins over Illinois and Ohio State, both he and Evans realize there is work to be done.

''As soon as you relax a little bit, take something for granted, that's when you jeopardize losing it,'' Hope said.

Hope is confident that he Boilermakers (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) will be ready for the Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3).

''We're going to try to keep the Senior Day in perspective until after we play the game and win,'' he said. ''Senior Day isn't all that special of a day unless you win the ballgame. We will honor our seniors, send them out right. The only way to send them out right is with a win.''

A key reason for Hope's confidence is Purdue's 5-1 home record. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has noticed.

''I know we're playing a good team in their place where they've played well,'' he said. ''We've got our hands full. We'll see what we've got.''

Purdue has remained competitive, in part, because Hope has successfully juggled a two-quarterback system.

Robert Marve stepped in for starting quarterback Caleb TerBush and scored the winning touchdown in Purdue's 26-23 overtime win over Ohio State last Saturday. Hope says he's sticking with TerBush as the starter.

''Caleb is number one,'' Hope said. ''Obviously, Robert played very well. He'll be ready to compete in practice and in the game on Saturday. We'll play them both. Either one of those guys we believe we can win with. I don't see any reason to change things.''

That's fine with Marve, who is just glad to be playing after missing most of last season with a torn ACL.

''Whatever it takes to win,'' he said. ''I'm a big fan of TerBush too, and me and him are very close. It may be surprising because of the situation how close we are.''

TerBush is a game manager with improving improvisational skills. Marve is more of a risk-taker, a mobile playmaker with a stronger arm.

In overtime against Ohio State, Marve looked like the player Purdue fans pinned high hopes on when he transferred from the University of Miami.

''I felt like the old me again,'' Marve said. ''It was nice to find my rhythm.''

Ferentz is concerned about both quarterbacks.

''The big thing is that they both do well,'' he said. ''Marve came in last week, led them to victory, and the other quarterback has really been playing well.''

Iowa already is bowl eligible, but the Hawkeyes are coming off a 37-21 home loss to Michigan State. Iowa has an 0-3 road record, including a loss to struggling Minnesota. Ferentz isn't thrilled about the way his team has competed away from home this season.

''We've had three road trips, I believe, and we been outplayed all three times, pure and simple,'' he said. ''So it's a challenge for us to ramp up our level of performance.''

Receiver Marvin McNutt has caught 65 passes for 1,089 yards and 10 scores. He is statistically one of the top receivers in Iowa history. Last week, he became Iowa's career and single-season leader in yards receiving.

''He has it all,'' Hope said. ''He has really good size, really good speed. We think he's one of the best receivers we have faced all season long. He makes great catches, sure-handed. Makes people miss in space. He can be a physical runner with the ball if he needs to. I think he has it all, a total package as a receiver.''

Quarterback James Vandenberg has passed for 2,351 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.

Running back Marcus Coker has 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Coker will match up with a Purdue run defense that is gaining confidence. The Boilermakers held Ohio State to 166 yards rushing on 48 carries last week. Hope believes his defensive tackles, Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston, are the best pair at that position in the Big Ten. Short had three sacks against Ohio State and Gaston blocked an extra point in the final minute against the Buckeyes that forced overtime.

While it appears that Purdue might have an advantage with its strong home record and Iowa's road woes, Hope believes the Hawkeyes are dangerous. And Iowa's three road losses are by a combined 14 points, including one in overtime.

''We're going to have to execute and minimize our errors,'' Hope said. ''If you look at every phase of their game, they do not make many mistakes. Very, very sound football team. Very well-coached.''


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap

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