In the second of two clashes between the Big 12 and Big Ten this weekend, the Purdue Boilermakers will play host to the TCU Horned Frogs. Game time is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, September 14 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. Fans can watch the game on the Big Ten Network.
Oddsmakers are envisioning a close game, as TCU is favored by a single point on the road. The over/under for the contest is set at 52.5 points. Click here to see all of this week’s college football odds.
This will only be TCU’s second game of the season and their first against an FBS opponent. The Horned Frogs easily beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff two weeks ago before getting last week off. As a result, we don’t know much about TCU heading into their showdown with Purdue.
Of course, the program has been remarkably consistent under Gary Patterson. In 18 seasons as head coach, Patterson has only failed to guide the Horned Frogs to a bowl game twice. To be fair, last year’s 7-6 season was a little bit of a disappointment after TCU played in the Big 12 Championship Game the previous year. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Horned Frogs bounce back in 2019.
Speaking of bouncing back, that’s exactly what Purdue did last week. The Boilermakers lost their season opener against Nevada, conjuring up memories of last year when Jeff Brohm’s team started out 0-3. Fortunately for the Boilermakers, they responded with a 42-24 win over SEC foe Vanderbilt to notch their first win of the season.
However, that win came at a cost. Despite throwing for over 500 yards and five touchdowns against Vanderbilt, quarterback Elijah Sindelar suffered what is being called a “slight concussion.” He’s currently in concussion protocol, putting his status up in the air. If he’s not able to play, redshirt freshman Jack Plummer will start for the Boilermakers.
This game is defined by questions at the quarterback positions. Purdue’s starting quarterback may not play while TCU looks poised to continue the two-quarterback system they used in their season opener. As mentioned, I don’t know much about TCU based off one game against an FCS team. But based on recent history, the Horned Frogs should have a good defense, and I’m not sure I can say the same about Purdue. In a virtual toss-up, that’s enough for me to side with TCU.
To be fair, the Horned Frogs lost over half their defensive starters and a lot of productivity from last season. But Patterson has always put together strong defensive teams and recruited well on that side of the ball. Even if the Horned Frogs are a little young on defense, they should have plenty of talent on that side of the ball.
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers have struggled to run the ball early in the season. They are averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground through two games. While Nevada and Vanderbilt are good opponents, the Boilermakers should have been able to do more damage on the ground in those games. The other side of the coin is that the combination of Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore has more than made up for Purdue’s struggles on the ground. Moore is simply electric and a handful for any opposing defense.
But if the TCU defense is anywhere near as good as they were a year ago, it’ll take more than Sindelar and Moore to score points against the Horned Frogs. There’s also the matter of the five turnovers Purdue had in the opener against Nevada. They cleaned up those mistakes last week against Vandy. However, I’m not convinced they won’t resurface against a strong TCU defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Purdue defense hasn’t exactly stood out through two games. Again, Nevada and Vanderbilt are decent opponents, and the Boilermakers haven’t been terrible on that side of the ball. But they still haven’t inspired a lot of confidence, especially when it comes to defending the pass.
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers will have to prepare to face two different TCU quarterbacks. Kansas State grad transfer Alex Delton isn’t a strong passer, but he’s a good runner who also brings experience to the table. He’s a nice complement for freshman Max Duggan, who has top-notch arm talent. If the two were one player, the Horned Frogs would have something special. However, they’ll gladly settle for being able to mix and match during the game, especially with a nice group of skill players led by wide receiver Jalen Reagor, who had over 1,000 yards receiving last season.
Ultimately, the uncertainty involving Sindelar is just one of the concerns I have about Purdue in this game. The Boilermakers haven’t run the ball effectively and can be vulnerable defensively. That’s not enough to convince me that they’ll beat a TCU team that should be solid on defense and has two viable quarterbacks. Unless Sindelar and Moore can dominate on their own, I think the Horned Frogs will win this game by a comfortable margin.