SU is back in the Dome for the better part of an entire month and the stand begins tomorrow with Purdue. The Boilermakers represent the Big Ten West and are an extremely intriguing team. Yeah, Syracuse took down Louisville which was very impressive and has launched the Orange on the trajectory to a potential 5-0, maybe 6-0 start to the season. However, this contest against last year’s Music City Bowl Champs will provide a serious litmus test for us to see just how good this team is on a national scale.
Syracuse has struggled historically against the Big Ten. However, history is just history at this point and should be absorbed with a grain of salt. This SU team looks like it has the makings to be Dino Babers’ best yet and is well equipped to take down and maybe even embarrass a team that some people think could compete for the B10 Title.
What are the three things the ‘Cuse needs to do to win this game over Purdue?
Lock Down Charlie Jones
The Iowa transfer is off to a blazing start this season. The former walk-on is leading the big ten in receptions, reception yards, and receiving touchdowns through two games. With that said, Jones is quite literally Purdue’s entire offense. The Boilermakers can’t run the football against an opponent with any brass in the trenches. Aidan O’Connell is a fabulous gunslinger but he has the mobility of a refrigerator.
Additionally, the Boilermakers will be without their lead running back in King Doerue for this game. Even with the Texas native, Purdue hasn’t really ever had much success with the ground game because its offense is predicated on the pass. Jones is far and away Purdue’s leader and he gets most of the targets. If Duce Chestnut and/or Garrett Williams can blanket him then Syracuse can wipe out the Boilermakers offense and roll.
Make Plays 1 on 1
This Purdue secondary is experienced and can make some plays. The Boilermakers are just one of two defenses nationally that stake claim to two different pick six’s. With that said, there are plays to be made against this secondary. Penn State won the season opener in West Lafayette through its aerial attack and big plays. The Nittany Lions didn’t do anything pretty but they won one-on-one against Purdue’s corners and made things happen in open space.
Syracuse’s deep passing game needs to show up again. We saw the potential of it against UCONN, Garrett Shrader was throwing bullseyes all over the field. If guys like Courtney Jackson, DeVaughn Cooper, and Damien Alford can take the top off of this Purdue defense SU will not only score points in bunches but open up its run game.
Put Purdue Behind Schedule
Purdue ranks 9th in the Big Ten converting on 45% of its third downs which is solid. However, that number is heavily inflated by the 56-0 drubbing of Indiana State last week. The Boilermakers really struggled to move the sticks against Penn State. The reason why? Well it goes back to the run game, it doesn’t exist for Jeff Brohm and Company.
In that close lose to PSU, Purdue had two different opportunities to ice the game and snag a huge season opening win. Instead, the Boilermakers passed the ball on 12/13 possible plays and got behind the chains and couldn’t garner a first down to close out the game. With the pass heavy offense, Syracuse will have chances to get Purdue in 3rd and medium, 3rd and long situations. When that time comes, the Orange need to get the Boilermakers off the field.