Both teams are still searching for their first win of the season as the Purdue Boilermakers host the Vanderbilt Commodores this weekend. Kickoff is set for noon EST on Saturday, September 7 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. Fans can catch all of the action on the Big Ten Network.
Oddsmakers view Purdue as 7.5-point favorites at home with an over/under of 55.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of game previews and betting odds for this week’s college football games.
The Boilermakers undoubtedly had one of the most frustrating losses of any team in the country last weekend. Purdue owned a 24-7 halftime lead over Nevada and looked likely to cruise to a road win. However, they were outscored 27-7 in the second half and lost on a 56-yard field goal as time expired less than a minute after giving up the game-tying touchdown. Despite out-gaining Nevada by over 100 yards, the Boilermakers couldn’t overcome five turnovers.
With four games left against ranked teams, Purdue could be facing a must-win situation this week against Vanderbilt. Obviously, the Boilermakers have proven under Jeff Brohm that they can beat quality opponents. Last year’s win over Ohio State is proof of that. Purdue also overcame a 0-3 start last year and still made a bowl game. But the Boilermakers don’t want to repeat that scenario, which won’t be easy with Vanderbilt this week and TCU on the schedule next week.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s loss the first week of the season was a little more expected. The Commodores fell 30-6 at home against no. 3 Georgia. To their credit, the Commodores nearly beat the 23-point spread and didn’t exactly get humiliated against the SEC East favorites the way some people envisioned.
Of course, Derek Mason and Vandy know that a difficult schedule lies ahead of them. If the Commodores want to reach a bowl game for the second straight year, this is the kind of game they need to win. It’s not exactly a must-win for Vanderbilt. But it would give their bowl hopes a huge early-season lift if they can get a road win against a Big Ten opponent.
Vanderbilt and Purdue meeting on the football field has been a long time coming. The two schools have met only twice before, back in 1941 and 1942. For what it’s worth, the Commodores won both of those games by a combined score of 29-0. Needless to say, the Boilermakers will be looking to get their first points and then some against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
It’s a little tough to trust Purdue after they gave away last week’s game. Last year’s 0-3 start doesn’t help either. But I do think they’re the better team in this game. As long as the Boilermakers can avoid the turnovers that plagued them last week, I think they’ll handle Vanderbilt. Admittedly, I have some apprehension with this pick, but I’ll trust Brohm to get things cleaned up and put Purdue in a position to win and cover.
If you take away the turnovers, the Purdue offense looked impressive last week. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar can definitely sling it, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, even if the Purdue rushing attack was a little sluggish. Equally important for the Boilermakers is the impact that Rondale Moore made, catching 11 passes for 124 yards. He’s the real deal and a player Vandy will struggle to contain.
In fairness, it’s tough to judge Vanderbilt based on their performance against Georgia. They were always going to be overmatched by the Bulldogs. They were bullied at the line of scrimmage, so much so that Georgia didn’t need to throw the ball much. Ultimately, the questions about the Vanderbilt defense heading into the season remain unanswered. But as long as Purdue avoids turnovers, I think the Sindelar-Moore tandem will help the Boilermakers put some points on the board.
On the other side of the ball, I think the Purdue defense will be fine if the offense doesn’t put them in bad spots. The Boilermakers did have some problems defending the pass, but they held up well against the run. They should have enough talent to keep pace with Vanderbilt.
Admittedly, the Commodores have some intriguing skill players who didn’t get a chance to shine against Georgia. But I’m still not sold on their quarterback play with Riley Neal. The Ball State transfer only had 85 yards passing in the season opener. Obviously, things will only get easier after facing Georgia. But Neal will still have a learning curve when it comes to facing power-5 teams. There’s no guarantee he’ll fare much better against Purdue or be able to keep pace if the score gets into the 30s or 40s.
Ultimately, this game will come down to turnovers. Even with five turnovers last week, the Boilermakers looked like the better team against Nevada and was a long field goal away from at least forcing overtime. I think Purdue will clean that up this week, allowing them to comfortably cover the 7.5-point spread against Vanderbilt.