Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Purdue's Bowl Opponent

Which team from the ACC would Purdue prefer to meet in the Champs Sports Bowl? The four likely candidates for an invite are Wake Forest, Boston College, Maryland, and Virginia Tech. Here is how each team including Purdue is ranked by

#18 Boston College Eagles
#19 Virginia Tech Hokies
#20 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#26 Maryland Terrapins
#36 Purdue Boilermakers

From these rankings it would appear that Purdue will be an underdog no matter the opponent. My early assessment would be that Wake Forest and Maryland are the most favorable match ups. Let's take a look at each team one by one.

The Eagles are a solid 9-2 so far this season after demolishing Maryland last weekend 38-16. The Eagles are probably the most balanced of the 4 ACC teams with Matt Ryan throwing the ball and Whitworth and Callender running the ball. The Eagles have had some impressive wins this year in defeating Clemson, Virginia Tech, & Maryland. If it weren't for laying an egg versus a horrible North Carolina State team, the Eagles would be positioning themselves for a higher bowl. Boston College is solid on both sides of the ball, but are somewhat schizophrenic losing to North Carolina State one week and beating Clemson the next. Boston College would be a tough match up for Purdue, but one that is definitely winnable. Eagles by 3.

The Hokies were left for dead after getting waxed 22-3 by Boston College earlier this season. Since then they have come on strong and are currently on a 5 game win streak. They have beaten Clemson, Miami, and Wake Forest during that streak. The Hokies are led by their star tailback Brandon Ore, who would be a handful for the Boilermaker defense and has already ran for more than 1,000 yards this season. The Hokies passing game is rather anemic this season with Sean Glennon completing less than 55% of his passes. The Hokie D is well-known for their "lunch-pail" approach to the game and has played well this season, most notably shutting down Clemson's CJ Spiller and James Davis in a Thursday night prime time beat down of the Tigers. If the Boilers and Hokies met in Orlando, it would play out very similarly to Purdue's loss to Penn State earlier this season. Virginia Tech is very similar to the Nittany Lions and would present the same challenges that Purdue faced at Ross-Ade earlier this season. Hokies by 17.

Jim Grobe has done an amazing job with the Deacons this season. Taking a perennial doormat to the doorstep of the ACC Championship is nothing short of amazing. What makes it even more amazing is the fact that they lost their starting QB and RB at the beginning of the season. The way the Demon Deacons demolished the Seminoles at Doak-Campbell Stadium 30-0 was a huge statement. The difficulty of Wake's schedule has been rather light, but still managed big wins at Florida State and against Boston College. Wake Forest has gotten to 9-2 this season without doing anything spectacular on offense and without any bondafide superstars. Despite their impressive record, Wake Forest presents the most favorable match up for Purdue and would have a hard time slowing down the Boilermaker offense. Purdue beat a ranked Wake Forest team in 2003 and would do the same in the Champs Sports Bowl. Boilers win by 14.

The Terps are back in the postseason after consecutive 5-6 seasons. It wasn't long ago that Maryland put together three straight 10 win seasons, and they hope to reach that plateau again this season. Maryland is led by their senior Quarterback Sam Hollenbach who has had a solid senior season under the tutelage of head coach Ralph Friedgen. Darrius Heyward-Bey is their impact player on offense, but hasn't crossed the 600 yard mark in receiving yards. Maryland is very similar to Wake Forest in that they have put together a lot of wins this season without doing anything spectacular. Maryland isn't particularly stout on D giving up almost 400 yards a game and should have trouble stopping Curtis Painter & Co. This is another favorable match up for Purdue and one that could go either way. Boilers win by 10.