It’s football season again and with FCS football starting tomorrow, I felt it was time to do the week 1 preview.
On Saturday, Eastern Kentucky will face B1G opponent Purdue.
Eastern Kentucky will begin their road to Frisco, Texas in West Lafayette, Indiana at Purdue University.
Earlier this week I had the honor to interview and answer questions with Travis Miller, football writer for Hammer and Rails. Hammer and Rails is a SB Nation blog for Purdue Sports. Here are the questions I asked him, and of course his answers.
C.S.B.=Colonels Sports Blog
C.S.B. 1.) “What are the expectations like at Purdue this year?”
Travis. “I am trying to temper them a bit, but this is Danny Hope’s best team in terms of talent and experience. It appears we finally have some depth at key positions, so if there is not success the questions will begin flying around Hope. Most people are picking a 7-8 win season, but some decisions (like the playing of multiple quarterbacks) feel like they could be a big hindrance to what we want to accomplish.
Of course, given that OhioState and PennState are ineligible for the Big Ten title game there is a definite hope we can finish the season in Indianapolis.”
C.S.B. 2.) “Any nerves at all about playing a good FCS team in week one?”
Travis. “A little. I am of the opinion that no Big Ten team ever has a valid excuse for losing to an FCS team. The differences in depth, talent, facilities, etc are so dramatic that it just shouldn’t happen. Realistically though, it happens all the time. Minnesota has been a victim so many times that they shouldn’t even play the FCS anymore, and it is not like Purdue is light years better than them. The AppyState over Michigan is the all-time overlooking of an opponent.
That said, I think most Purdue fans have several good reasons to think this game should be a victory, and a loss would be pretty stunning. “
C.S.B. 3.) “What are Purdue feelings of Danny Hope? Is he what everyone expected? Better? Worst?”
Travis. “I would say they are tepid at best. We really liked him at first when he took a team with not a lot of talent to 5-7 with several extremely close losses, mostly because of our own mistakes. His second season had so many injuries to key players it wasn’t funny. One of the things that bothers people is that his teams don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. Combine that with one head-scratching loss in each of his three seasons (Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Rice) tests people’s patience.
He does own OhioState as long as we play in West Lafayette though.”
C.S.B. 4.) “How big of a crowd is expected?”
Travis. “Not a big one. I am expecting about 35,000 out of a 62,500 seat stadium because attendance is way down. That is another thing that is at Hope’s feet. With the general population there is not a buzz about the team and seats aren’t selling. We haven’t resorted to Indiana levels to sell tickets, but it is troubling that much of the stadium is empty on game day.”
C.S.B. 5.) “If upset in week one, how will that affect the season? If at all?”
Travis. “Dramatically. Coaches just do not survive in the Big Ten by losing to FCS schools. You might be able to do it in year one and get away with it, but in year four?”
C.S.B. 6.) “Big Ten has had bad luck recently with FCS teams, Michigan and Minnesota losing, Indiana almost lost to us. So how does that affect the Big 10 and this game?”
Travis. “A lot of big Ten teams have had close calls, but Purdue is not one of them. Our closest was beating Western Illinois 31-21 in 2010 when we finished 4-8 and they made the playoffs. Even then, the game was never really in doubt. A late touchdown made the score closer, while the loss of Keith Smith to a severe knee injury in that game was a bigger blow. We generally handle our business against FCS teams (59-0 over SEMO last year, 42-10 over Northern Colorado in 2008, 52-6 over Eastern Illinois in 2007, 60-35 over IndianaState in 2006). That tells me struggles would be a bad sign.”
C.S.B. 7.) “Your outcome prediction is?”
Travis. “I think it is a semi close game early with Purdue pulling away in the third quarter. I expect about a 14-21 point win.”
Thank you Travis Miller for your time it was great to do this.
It’s not often I predict that EKU will beat a FBS team, Indiana and Western Kentucky, are the only times I have. I also am not saying EKU will win Saturday, but we do have a chance against a middle of the road B1G team. We have come close a couple of times, and I feel we should of those games, against Indiana and Kansas State.
I certainly feel if Eastern comes out focused and hungry for an upset, a team and place like Purdue could be the right place to do it.
In all reality, I do not expect a win, but do hope for one.
Speaking of hope, who remembers when Purdue head coach, Danny Hope coached at Eastern Kentucky? I do. Good luck Danny Hope.