It's time for the first potluck of the year! A time when all true and wannabe Midwesterners get together to eat and talk about football. C.E. Bell (fka chadnudj) used to write all of these things, but he doesn't have the time to do it for every team anymore. I just want to mention that he has set the standard for food themes and interesting questions at a pretty high level. Please read on knowing that it is really hard to come up with good questions to ask about Purdue at this point, and my food knowledge leaves something to be desired.
As the roster of OTE writers keeps growing, the potluck has become longer and longer to the point where it is too long to read. So we are going to split the potluck into two posts to make it more manageable.
As I mentioned earlier, I am not that great at food selections, so I'm going to go with the path of least resistance here: Hungarian food that I have pictures of on my computer. Why Hungarian food? Because that's the type of food that I have the most pictures of on my computer.
The Potato Tower
Image credit: SBNation user Hired Goons
The Potato Tower is built one layer at a time. The Purdue rebuilding project enters its second year. Last season was atrocious. A bad defense. An offense that was worse than that. A 1-11 record two years after it was predicted by a certain Spartan lacrosse bro. What should the expectations be for this season? Slight improvement? Major improvement? More of the same?
I would say something like "it can't get any worse" but then I remember it's Purdue we're talking about. Hey, remember when Danny Etling was supposed to save the day? Then remember when he got sacked 31 times and threw 7 INTs compared to 10 TDs? THE CHAMP IS HERE. But no, really, Purdue returns nearly their entire offense so they HAVE to get better. They also play a couple of terrible non-conference teams in Western Michigan and SIU (is CMU any good?) so I'm thinking they'll double their win total from last season (they'll win two games).
I wouldn't expect a great improvement, and having watched my own team rebuild (again) from 1-11, let's just say I have a little experience in the matter. I would say you guys are probably in better shape after going 1-11 than we were, but playing a very tough conference schedule in the West. I could see anywhere from 2-10 to about 5-7 being within the realm of possibility, probably closer to 3-9 depending on how the non-con sets up for you.
Slight improvement would be a reasonable expectation since Purdue went with so many young guys last year, but it might not show much in the record. The non-con should be a 3-1 mark, and you guys usually give Notre Dame a fight, so maybe you even pull that one off, too. Still, looking at the conference schedule, it's tough to give the Boilers much of a chance against anyone but Illinois and Indiana. This team's problem has always been matching up physically when the chips are down. Until it finds a group of B1G-caliber linebackers (it's been over a decade since you had even one), Purdue will continue to get steamrolled by the Wisconsins and Nebraskas of the conference.
It's hard to imagine significant improvement. While Purdue has some intriguing skill position players, its offensive line is another story. If you're looking for signs of improvement, I think you have to look beyond wins and losses. Do the Boilermakers look better and will they be competitive in more games this season? That, more than record, will serve as a gauge of where Hazell and the Boliermakers are.
I tend to swing on the optimistic side of things, but I think that Purdue fans can hope for a bowl bid this season, provided that they win three or four of their first four games. Remember, this is a team that has given Notre Dame serious trouble in two of the teams' past three meetings. The Boilers might not steal one there, but a 3-1 start is still very possible with Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Southern Illinois on the slate. If Purdue can get to 3-1 (no guarantee for sure), I can see it being frisky enough to win the three Big Ten games necessary to secure a postseason berth. At home versus Iowa and away versus Illinois aren't impossible mountains to climb. They are the first two games on Purdue's conference schedule, and they could serve as good confidence builders.
3 wins would be a nice place to put expectations. Sadly, the Boilers have a relatively tough B1G schedule, full of top 40 teams. Even the Illinois bunny is away.
I think the expectation should at least to get a FBS win. Look, last year was atrocious, but another year in the system and some talent coming into form - specifically in the form of Etling - means the Boilers really need to be better. As I look at the schedule, Purdue opens the season against two teams in the Bottom 15 of last year, a FCS opponent, and Notre Dame. They should win at least two of those, and who knows, maybe snag a win in conference. That would be slightly better, right?
I think the expectation is that Purdue should at least beat the three directional schools in the non-conference slate. You can do that, right? Looking at your 2014 schedule, combined with my non-knowledge of Purdue outside of what you gave yesterday, I would guess you could maybe snag two conference wins if the cards fall the right way. I think if Purdue does that and is at least competitive in their losses with the young team it seems you have, that would be improvement.
I think expectations should be to win 2-3 non-conference games (I think Purdue can reasonably beat ROW ROW ROW and CMU, along with the Salukis) and to win a B1G game. That's about all I've got. Obviously you want to see the offense progress and look halfway competent, but I don't even want to go out on that limb.
Purdue will improve this year. The younger players of 2013 become the veteran players of 2014 and experience like that can be a good indicator of future progress. We all see that this non-con schedule is much more manageable than last year, so a 3-1 record doesn't seem hopeless. But what can Purdue really do once they get into the B1G match-ups? I'm seeing one or maybe two wins in the months of October and November. Color me surprised if Purdue makes it to a bowl game.
I'm going to say 3-9. A loss to a directional Michigan and a B1G win against either Illinois or Indiana. This is actually pretty optimistic for me. I wouldn't be shocked if the team is just barely better than last season.
Hungarian Hot Pocket with Kolbasz
Image credit: SBNation user Hired Goons
Hot Pockets are a food that people turn to when they're just too depressed to spend any time cooking or eating. I eat them a lot. Speaking of depression, the 2013 Purdue football season. I can't remember a worse season for a team that I root for. This might bring back some painful memories, but what was the worst season that you have ever suffered through as a sports fan?
As far as Iowa goes I think it has to be 2007. The off the field troubles, the horrible play of Jake Christensen and the team simply being bad was difficult to cope with. It was the final year I was able to be a fan of the team as a student so I lived, breathed and died for the Hawkeyes. So basically: I died a whole lot that year. Watching us lose by a bunch of field goals to ISU, getting thumped by Indiana (SHADA NO), losing to Anthony fucking Morelli and ending it all with a gutless loss to Western Michigan was unbearable. I mean...it was soooooooo bad.
As far as my professional sports pick, I'm a Cubs fan so choose any year.
Ah, geez. Do I only have to pick one? Perhaps I should just list some (because there are a lot). IU football (most years). The Chicago Cubs (ditto, but 2003 especially). The two years the Colts were really bad before getting excellent quarterbacks. The 2004-05 Pacers that got decimated by the Malice in the Palace (among others). 2008-09 through 2010-11 Indiana Hoosiers basketball. I'm gonna stop here for my own sanity.
Well, as far as CFB goes, my freshman year, 2006, was not glorious, being the tail end of the Johnelle era. Losing to Illinois and Indiana in the same year with Drew Stanton on your roster is tough, but JLS pulled it off. And...that ND game. That game was so bad, no one even wanted to drink after it.
Overall, though, the Detroit Tigers teams of the early 00s were pretty horrendous. I went to 8 games in 2003, when they came within one loss of the Mets' all-time losing record, and the Tigers lost all 8 of them. Of course, those 8 tickets probably cost less than one would now, but those were dark days and I'm glad they're over. You might wonder about the Lions, but I haven't really cared about them since Barry Sanders retired when I was 10 years old, so they can't hurt me anymore.
Worst season? Perhaps you recall Rich Rod's first season in Ann Arbor? Or the Brian Ellerbe and Tommy Amaker eras in basketball? Take your pick. Expanding that a bit to painful moments, I was in attendance for two national championship losses - one by a landslide (Duke) and one by a possession (UNC). Last season's title game loss to Louisville still stings. I was also on hand for four Rose Bowl losses (against only two victories). Stepping away from college sports, the Tigers losing to an 85-win Twins team in the '87 ALCS was tough, as was losing to a 83-win Cardinal team in the 2006 series. But I was working in San Francisco during the Tigers' no-show loss to the Giants in the in the 2012 World Series, so that was especially tough. Making it even tougher was having a jubilant Sergio Romo greet me every morning when I got to the office for the next few weeks (there was a theater-screen-sized photo in the lobby of Romo celebrating after recording the final out). Good times.
Take your pick: Penn State's miserable 2004 season when it almost lost to Indiana (somehow worse than last year when that loss to IU actually happened), or the 2011 when the team got crushed by Houston on New Year's Day in the wake of the Sandusky Scandal (but that team somehow beat Ohio State, so...). There's also every PSU basketball season to consider. Or if other sports count, every Mets season since 2006.
2009 Michigan was the worst season ever. 5-7 and 1-7 in conference maybe doesn’t sound…that bad, but it was. Each B1G was a new "YAY ITS MICHIGAN FOOTBALL ok we’re losing OH IT’S A COMEBACK ok we lost" rollercoaster of terribleness. The defense, was terrible. The OSU game, where Tressel played ultimate-Tresselball to conserve a victory because he knew Michigan couldn’t score, was utter blah. The potential of this young team was high, but it’s hard to accept it’s just a terrible squad when you see those colors come onto the field.
Hi, my name is Jesse Collins and I root for the Cubs. [Hi Jesse] Let's just say there are plenty of seasons where I've just hoped they don't lose 100 games. As for other ones I've dealt with, I'm also a Buffalo Bills fan... and a New Orleans Pelicans (formerly Charlotte Hornets and followed them) fan... and an Everton fan... and...
As to CFB, the worst was 2007 Nebraska under Billy C. We had a decent enough offense and we did win 5 games, so it could've been worse obviously, but that was the year Kansas dropped 76 on us. It was not so fun.
I'm a Redskins fan, do the last 23 years as a whole count? If we are looking for one season and CFB, most likely the first season under Edsall was the worst for me. It felt like a quarter of the team transferred out and the recruiting class wasn't that great on paper. There was not a lot of optimism to be had that season.
I was going to say "The Timberwolves," but then I realized that I, like most other T-Pups fans, just say "Fuck it" around mid-season and go back to caring for the same amount of time next year. So I'll say last year for Northwestern. So much promise, so much opportunity, then an implosion unlike any I've ever known.
The previous year of Illini sports were looking superbly bad at one point. The football team was the football team -- a 4-12 season with one B1G win (PURDUE). Then the basketball team went on a 8-game conference losing streak. And to cap it all off, the Midwest had gone Defcon: Freeze Everything. We partially climbed out of it at the end of basketball season, but it has left a scar in my memory.
2013 Purdue football without a doubt.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of the Potluck and be sure to give us your answers in the comments.
MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview
TUESDAY | Smartest Guys in the Room
WEDNESDAY | Purdue Potluck Part 1
THURSDAY | Purdue Potluck Part 2
FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close