Holy cow sports fans, it’s finally here. It’s the last game of this god forsaken Indiana football season. For some, it’s sweet relief from watching this awful team take the field. For others, it’s a chance to dive into basketball season. For the majority of the fanbase though, it’s Bucket Week! The Indiana Hoosiers vs the Purdue Boilermakers!
You know what that means?
Well it means that I’ve enlisted the help of BoilerUp89 to help with this preview because writing one more of these for a 0 win B1G team might kill me. We’re going to give you a little Bucket History, answer a few burning questions, pick a few things to watch for on Saturday, and then tell you to get lost. Sound fun? No? Well nobody asked you. BU89, say hi to the people.
BoilerUp89: You know I’m an engineer right? I don’t really do well around people.
Buff: I’ll talk to the customer so you don’t have to then. Anyways, onto some history!
History of the Old Oaken Bucket
Buff: First, here’s a bit of history on the actual Oaken Bucket itself. In 1925, the Indiana and Purdue alumni chapters in Chicago held a joint meeting. In that meeting, they wanted to create some sort of joint enterprise between the two schools. After some deliberation, the group concluded that the most obvious and typical Hoosier (Indiana resident not school) trophy one could possess would be an oaken bucket.
After settling upon the trophy type, the duo of Fritz Ernst and Whiley Huddle set out on a quest to find an old oaken bucket they could take from someone’s well. They traveled down to southern Indiana between Kent and Hanover and met with a family who had a bucket to spare. There’s some claim that the bucket was from the Civil War but I don’t buy that.
Anywho, it was decreed that whomever wins the game will have their school’s letter added to the bucket via a chain to hold the letter and a bronze block “I” for Indiana and “P” for Purdue. The inaugural game was played in 1925 and resulted in a 0-0 tie. That’s why the first link on the Old Oaken Bucket is an “I-P” link.
There’s something to do with a poem on the Wiki page, but to be honest it made no sense to me.
Honestly, I do love this trophy. No, it’s not some large axe, but it’s also not something you spit in or a dumb trophy about lands and grants. It’s original, simple, and completely an Indiana (as a state) thing to do. Any thoughts BU?
BU89: Honestly, the trophy is a work of art. From concept to execution it’s flawless. It represents the state well and the adding of a link each year ensures that it pays tribute to each game without cluttering up the trophy by painting scores on it like all the other lesser trophies do. Plus it’s always fun to watch the players of the winning team search for the longest stretch of P or I links in a row so they can show it to the cameras.
On to the game history of these two schools.
- Purdue leads the overall series and the Bucket series which started in 1925. The bucket series is 60-32-3
- The Indiana – Purdue rivalry is the only B1G rivalry that is protected in the East-West alignment
- Indiana has won 6 of the last 10 bucket games
Some Fun Questions
Now let’s do a little Q&A shall we?
1) So, how’s your season going? What’s been the biggest surprise to you?
Buff: Well it’s not gone very well. Very not good indeed. I’m not sure if I should be upset with how awful the results have been or impressed that the program successfully sold itself as a competent team in the preseason. Probably the latter if I’m being honest.
The biggest surprise to me has been how just historically awful the offense has been. Spare me the bad line talk too. A lot of schools have bad lines. They still manage to score touchdowns here and there.
Let’s look at the position groups too. Tightends have been the best group on the team and the leading receivers too so that’s not a problem. It’s really the only offensive bright spots. QB play was bad across the board. Bad decisions, bad throws, just baaaaaad. Every WR who wasn’t DJ Matthews was terrible. Cam Buckley, awful. Miles Marshall, nonexistent. Ty Fryfogyle, complete fraud and is by far the worst WR1 in FBS. The RB room disintegrated before we got out of the non-conference as Sampson James left for Purdue and Baldwin fumbled his way into the transfer portal. Carr was good when there was room but the OL was so bad there was hardly any room. Then there’s the lack of any creativity on offense from the first snap of the season. Nick Sheridan had better have his resume ready because he’s about to be ejected into space.
So to answer the question, it’s gone bad and the offense has been surprisingly historically bad.
BU89: It’s been very, very well. Losses to two teams I’ve never seen Purdue beat in football, a Jeff Brohm loss in the rain special, and the loss to the Death Star are nothing to be ashamed of. I was thinking this was a 5-7 team that could get to 6 wins with some breaks. They’ve far outperformed my expectations.
As for the biggest surprise, it’s got to be the defensive turnaround job accomplished by the three defensive co-coordinators. Lambert, Hagen, and English have done a great job actually teaching defensive technique to their players rather than just sending them out on the field and crossing their fingers. Outside of the Ohio State game (which is kind of understandable), Purdue’s defense has allowed only one non-OSU team to reach 30 points all season (and the Badgers only got to 30). The defense has given the offense a chance in 10 games so far. Last year, the defense was getting steamrolled by Rutgers.
The offensive line has also somehow developed into a passable unit late in the season. Which is shocking to me considering the extreme youth on the Purdue O-line as the result of medical retirements this offseason. Purdue is going to lose a couple of really special talents (Bell and Karlaftis) to the NFL this offseason. And while they don’t have guys to just step in and replace them, the fact that Brohm put together a winning season without a fully functioning offensive line for most of the year is nothing short of miraculous and a great sign for the future.
Former walk-on QB Aidan O’Connell has taken his play to another level in the past month or so and in a better world where Ohio State does exist would be primed to take home some all-B1G honors.
2) Roundball: How’s roundball shaping up to look this season? Any early season surprises?
Buff: The schedule is kind of piss poor, but it’s shaping up to be pretty okay. I think...dare I say it...maybe even top 5 in the conference? In all honesty, last season’s team had terrible guard play and that really did doom them to mediocrity. With XJ, Stewart, Bates, and Lander at the guard spots, it really changes some of the trajectory of the team. You can’t win without good guard, and Rob ain’t a good guard. The others all have potential or experience that really looks good so far. We’ll see what it looks like on the road with Syracuse in a week or so though. The big surprise has been how good Lander has looked so far. Yeah, bad competition, but this was someone who hardly played the first three games, and now he’s played 17 and 24 minutes the last two. That’s a good track to be on.
BU89: I love college basketball every year regardless of whether Purdue is good or not. And as any self-respecting Indiana and Purdue fan reading this already know, Purdue is looking very, very good this season. For over a decade now, I’ve confidently stated that the 2010 team at Purdue was the best team Painter has had. 5 games into this season, it does not look like I’m going to be able to say that anymore.
The 1-2 punch of Edey and Williams at center is something no other team has. Jaden Ivey can attack an opposing defense at any time and is maturing into a guy who makes great decisions. Surrounding these three with sharp shooters in Stefanovic, Thompson, and Newman makes for a great offense and Painter runs pretty offensive sets.
Defensively, there is some work to be done but I’m seeing small signs of progress. It would be nice to see them more consistently but it’s early in the season and I can’t be too greedy.
3) What’s your favorite Bucket game you’ve seen or been to?
Buff: 2007. Austin Starr kicks the field goal to get Indiana 7 wins on the season after Hoeppner died. Best I’ve watched. I’ve never been to a good bucket game either, so there’s that.
BU89: My favorite Bucket game was the one that introduced freshman me to the series in 2008. Purdue won 62-10. Unfortunately it also gave me way too high expectations for the Bucket game moving forward and now losses to Indiana are things I subconsciously view as shameful.
The best Bucket game I’ve been to was 2017 though. I’m still not sure how Purdue won that game as Simmie Cobbs and Taysir Mack seemed to be making catches all game.
4) Say something nice about each other’s schools and programs.
Buff: Purdue engineering is nice. David Bell is a monster amongst boys and should be treated as such. Like, I seriously think he’s one of the best in football and if he isn’t an All-American I’d be livid if I were you. Also, I actually like Matt Painter and think he’s a good coach who has caught a couple of shitty, shitty breaks.
BU89: I don’t actually hate Indiana. I grew up in Ohio and my hatred is reserved for actual evil entities, not schools that have different academic priorities but still try to do things the right way. Indiana University does a lot of things the right way. I know most Indiana fans aren’t happy that their program self reported Kelvin Sampson’s misdoings. But I think it shows a huge amount of integrity by the Indiana administration. As did Fred Glass’s immediate firing of former coach Kevin Wilson the minute he learned that Wilson was mistreating players (the evil entity hired him up right away despite this because sports success is all that matters to them). The willingness to play by the rules (even if the rules are dumb) is something most other B1G schools won’t do and something that I highly admire in a world where so many people and organizations cut corners.
Although Indiana’s majors aren’t my cup of tea - they do a really solid job with the schools they have. I love that the state of Indiana has two top tier universities and hate that my home state of Ohio has just one despite having 1.7 times the population of Indiana. On the field, Tom Allen seems like a good dude and it was fun to watch Penix break long losing streaks to Penn State and Michigan last season. I don’t know Mike Woodson enough yet to comment on him intelligently, but he seems like a good dude.
What to Watch For
Buff: I’m going to give my typical 3 things and then let BU give a few things he’s watching for.
1) Does this game actually matter to the Indiana players?
No. It does not. I’d be shocked if it matters to the coaches too. There’s not been any motivation in weeks, so I completely expect this team to get rolled early and have that be that. It’s something to watch for. It will tell us a ton about Allen too.
2) How quickly is Nick Sheridan axed after this game?
If he makes the trip back with the team, I’ll be kind of surprised. If he survives until Tuesday, I’ll be wildly pissed and surprised, and if he makes it through early signing, I’ll begin the charge of requesting a change of head coach too. Allen says there’s difficult conversations to be had. I know nobody likes to fire anyone, especially before the holidays. That said, Sheridan is good at leveraging his coaching tree and will land on his feet sooner rather than later so fucking eject him as soon as possible.
3) Will any of Penix, Mullen, or Tuttle play in this game?
This would be the place I think Penix might show up to play. Not in the sense that he’ll tear it up, but that he might trot out there. I think his football career is over. It was probably over last fall after the Maryland game. Tuttle probably won’t play but it’ll be interesting if they play musical QBs again with anyone who is healthy. I wouldn’t expect Mullen to play because he’s got to protect his draft stock and let’s be honest, this team sucks.
BU, your turn! What’s some things you’re looking for this weekend?
1) Will Purdue come out firing and extinguish Hoosier hope early?
This being a rivalry game, if Purdue lets Indiana hang around into the second half things could get dicey. If Purdue establishes a two touchdown lead the Hoosiers might just roll over and let Boilermaker fans start celebrating their first 8 win season in forever.
2) Will Purdue bother to run the ball this week?
Due to their O-line issues, Purdue has the worst rushing attack in the conference this season. Will they be able to run against Indiana’s defense? Will Jeff Brohm care to try and establish a running game this late in the season?
3) Will any of the true freshman burn their redshirts in this game + the bowl?
Purdue has 7 freshman that have played in either 3 or 4 games so far this season - players are allowed to play in 4 games and still redshirt. Of these 7: 1 has already redshirted, 2 have transferred out midseason, and another is a long snapper not on scholarship. That leaves Deion Burks (WR - 3 games played), Yanni Karlaftis (LB - 3 games played) and Prince Boyd Jr. (DT - 4 games played). Karlaftis and Burks were the stars of the recruiting class so maintaining their redshirt this late in the season would be nice.
Good luck to the Hoosiers in this one (but not too much luck) and in the basketball season to come.
It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn
It’s been a long year. It’s been a long, terrible year that was actually completely unexpected. It’s finally over. No more of this trash until next fall. In a year so full of crap, maybe, just maybe Indiana can scrape together something competent and put it on the field. Win one for the gipper. Win or lose, it’s been a pleasure providing you with pooping material each Friday afternoon. Have a wonderful end of the year and I’ll see you in the basketball articles!
Special thanks to BU89 for getting my motivation going this week and helping out on this article!
Gametime: 11/27 – 3:30 PM EST – FS1