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The Bucket Game Preview: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Purdue Boilermakers

One game, to define/salvage/destroy a season

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Who, Where, When: For the 118th time, Indiana takes on in-state rival Purdue. For the 91st time, the Old Oaken Bucket is at stake. Kickoff at Ross-Ade Stadium is set for noon on the Big Ten Network. Cory Provus and Glen Mason have the call, with J Leman on the sideline. Indiana has been victorious in the last two meetings between the teams, and looks to make it three IU victories in a row for just the 6th time in the history of the rivalry, the last being a 4 game stretch between 1944 and 1947, Indiana's longest stretch of wins in the Bucket game. Purdue leads all-time 72-39-6, and is 58-29-3 with the Old Oaken Bucket on the line.

Numbers of Note: 330, the passing yards Nate Sudfeld needs to become Indiana's career passing leader. If Nate throws for at least that many yards, he would also: move into 3rd in career total offense (currently 92 yards behind Ben Chappell), become the leader in 300 yard passing games by a Hoosier (currently tied with Chappell at 9 games), become the leader in 200 yard passing games by a Hoosier (currently tied with Chappell at 18 games), move into a tie for 2nd in 250 yard passing games with Steve Bradley at 12, and move up in at least three single season categories as well. 2.5, the number of sacks Nick Mangieri needs to move into a tie for 10th in career sacks in Indiana history. 263, the rushing yardage Jordan Howard needs to post the 5th best season total in Indiana history. 21-38-5, Indiana's record in West Lafayette against the Boilers.

Purdue Notes, courtesy of OTE's babaoreally: Just like last season, Purdue comes into the Bucket game with just one conference win. Just like last season, this season has been very disappointing. Aside from the weird win over Nebraska, the Boilers have generally either lost in a respectable fashion (Northwestern, Michigan State), or have been blown out (Minnesota, Illinois). Purdue has the injured QB this year; Austin Appleby will get to start again after David Blough was concussed in last week's game. The Purdue defense has had a couple of good games; they will have to play well for the Boilers to have any sort of a chance. IU's defense might be bad enough for the Boilermaker offense to get something going, but I doubt it. If I were a degenerate gambler, my money would be on IU.

Notable Purdue Alumni and Fun Facts: Can be found in last year's preview.

Prediction: There's really no good way to predict rivalry games. Indiana has a lot more at stake than Purdue does, up to and including a trophy, a three game win streak over their biggest rival, a guarantee of a bowl game, potentially Kevin Wilson's job, and three road wins in a season for the first time since 1994. So, you know, no pressure at all. This IU team has proven itself capable of putting points on the board, but unfortunately has also proven itself capable of giving up a ton of points as well. What does all of this mean? Honestly, I have no idea. If everyone's healthy and stays healthy, Indiana could blow Purdue out. If the Hoosiers have to start digging into the 2nd and 3rd stringers, Purdue might blow Indiana out. If the weather proves to be significantly worse than the expected 40 degrees and 50% chance of rain currently forecast for Saturday, it could be a 6-3 rock fight that sets football back 100 years. Best case scenario for Indiana is that we get a repeat of two years ago, when Indiana won 56-36. Worst case scenario, we get a repeat of 2008 (a 62-10 Purdue win) or 2012 (a 56-35 Purdue win). I'll hope for a middle ground scenario, something like Indiana 42, Purdue 31.

Next Time: Either an Indiana bowl preview, or whoever we open 2016 against. I'd much prefer the former.