Following Syracuse’s obliteration of UConn, the Orange could be 3-0 for the first time since 2018 this weekend. But, the competition gets much tougher this weekend. SU will welcome Purdue to the JMA Dome, marking the first meeting between the two schools since 2004. 18 years ago, the Boilermakers gave Syracuse fans a game they’d like to forget, steamrolling their way to a 51-0 victory.
Purdue made national headway last season by coming up big in big games. The Boilermakers won a pair of games against top-three opponents last year. Unfortunately for Purdue fans, their team had a tendency to flop in games they should’ve won. A pair of home losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin knocked the Boilermakers out of contention to win the Big Ten. Still, Purdue ended up winning its Bowl Game to finish 2021 at 9-4. This year, a loss at home to Penn State and a demolition of FCS Indiana State have the Boilermakers at 1-1 entering Saturday’s game.
HEAD COACH JEFF BROHM
The Louisville native’s journey is a fascinating one. Brohm has played minor league baseball, saw seven years in the NFL as a quarterback, then floated around as a college football assistant coach before taking the reigns at Western Kentucky in 2014. Under Brohm, the Hilltoppers won a pair of Conference USA titles in three seasons. After that, Brohm was hired by Purdue in 2017. The results since then have been mixed. Over the course of four full seasons, a COVID-shortened 2020, and the start of this year, the Boilermakers are 29-30 under Brohm. But they have made three bowl games, winning two.
QB AIDAN O’CONNELL
You want to know how experienced O’Connell is? He’s married. It’s not very often that you find that in college football. Does the fact that O’Connell turned 24 less than two weeks ago surprise you less? That’s how experienced the Illinois native is. Last year’s Big Ten second-team QB, O’Connell is in his sixth year with the program, and he has made his way from the bottom to the top. O’Connell walked on in 2017, won the starting job prior to 2020, and with the exception of an injury halfway through Purdue’s shortened 2020 season, O’Connell hasn’t missed a beat. He’s got nearly 600 passing yards and 5 touchdowns in two starts so far this year.
WR CHARLIE JONES
O’Connell has to thank Jones quite a bit for his success so far. After previously spending time at both Buffalo and Iowa, the Illinois native has not missed a beat since joining the Boilermakers. What has he done? Only put up nearly 300 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in just two games. That’s nearly half of O’Connell’s production. Syracuse’s top-tier defensive backs will be put to the test this weekend facing a high-caliber receiver like Jones.
DT PRINCE JAMES BOYD JR.
First of all, that is a fantastic name. We could go on and on about how cool it is, but Boyd has emerged as one of Purdue’s most lethal defensive weapons in the early going this year. An Independence Community College transfer, the New Haven, CT native has seven total tackles in the team’s first two games, including a pair of tackles for loss. Matthew Bergeron won the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week award after his performance against UConn, but he and the rest of the O-line will have some work to do preparing for Boyd.
S CAM ALLEN
Allen has done a little bit of everything for Purdue’s defense in its first two games. The Virginia native has half a tackle-for-loss, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and a pick-six. Mr. Do-It-All in a nutshell. Syracuse fans have been spoiled with how good the Orange look in the passing game so far. But with Allen set to roam the secondary this weekend, things are going to get much tougher.
What a challenge Dino Babers and company have ahead of them. They’re off to a good start. But given the gauntlet of a schedule later this season, this game could have a monumental impact on whether or not this team goes bowling.