Kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. MST. Let’s get to know the Boilermakers before then.
A look at Purdue
2017 record – 6-6 (4-5)
Key games – Week one loss versus Louisville (35-28), week three win at Missouri (35-3), week seven loss at Wisconsin (17-9), week eight loss at Rutgers (14-12), week 12 win at Iowa (24-15), week 13 win versus Indiana (31-24)
Key offensive players – Elijah Sindelar (QB), Markell Jones (RB), D.J. Knox (RB), Anthony Mahoungou (WR)
Key defensive players – Gelen Robinson (DT), Lorenzo Neal (DT), Danny Ezechukwu (DE/LB), Ja’Whaun Bentley (LB), Jacob Thieneman (Safety)
Purdue is led by first-year head coach Jeff Brohm. Brohm spent the last three seasons with Western Kentucky where he compiled a 30-10 overall record. Purdue finished with just an 8-28 mark during that stretch. He is responsible for taking Purdue to their first bowl game since 2012.
They started the season with junior quarterback David Blough at the helm. However, sophomore Elijah Sindelar saw action throughout the first nine games and was ultimately named the starter after Blough suffered a dislocated ankle which ended his season.
Sindelar, a pocket passer, completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 1,703 yards, 14 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
Purdue has a well-balanced offense as they are passing approximately 53 percent of the time. There’s not one receiver with gaudy stats. In fact, they have seven players who have tallied more than 200 yards receiving on the season.
Anthony Mahoungou is probably the standout from the group as he leads the team in yards (570) and touchdowns (6) and is second on the team in receptions (34).
Their running backs are a similar story in that there’s a steady distribution of touches among multiple players. There are four players who have more than 40 rushing attempts and have tallied more than 200 yards.
Markell Jones leads the team with 92 carries and 480 yards. D.J. Knox is another back who will see action at the position and currently leads the team in all purpose yards with 850. He is second on the team with 79 carries and 460 rushing yards but has also accounted for 288 returning yards and 102 receiving yards.
Knox suffered a thumb injury that occurred in Purdue’s final regular season game against Indiana. He was forced to leave the game early but is expected to be ready for the bowl game.
This is a team that is producing modestly from an offensive standpoint. They finished sixth and ninth (of 14) in their conference passing and rushing offenses, respectively. The greatest strength of Purdue lies on the defensive side of the ball, specifically within their front seven.
Ja’Whaun Bentley is the heart of the defense and was named an All-American by Pro Football Focus. The senior battled injuries the last two seasons but was healthier this year, appearing in 11 games.
Bentley is one of five seniors in Purdue’s front seven. Other notable names are Danny Ezechukwu and Gelen Robinson who have played in all 12 games. They combine for 61 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and nine sacks.
The Boilermakers rank 47 and 18 (of 129) in total defense and scoring defense, respectively. They have only allowed more than 30 points once this season and that happened all the way back in week one against a Lamar Jackson-led offense.
This may bode well for the Wildcats’ offense as they have a quarterback in Khalil Tate that possesses a similar skill set as Jackson. Tate is expected to play despite sustaining an injury to his non-throwing shoulder which forced him to miss the second half of the ASU game.