Purdue quarterback David Blough seems like the kind of person Missouri fans should root for — aside from Sept. 16 around 3 p.m. when the Tigers host the Boilermakers in the season’s third game at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
Blough led the Big Ten in pass attempts (517), completions (295) and yards per game (279.3) last season.
He finished second in touchdowns passes (25) and third in passing yards (3,352).
Unfortunately for Blough — who could be in for a bigger statistical spike with pass-crazed former Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm now in charge of Purdue football — he also led the nation with 21 interceptions last season.
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That was four more than Indiana’s Richard Lagnow and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who each threw 17 picks in 2016.
Still, Blough’s moxie makes him easy enough to like. He scored an invitation to the Manning Passing Academy by penning a handwritten letter to Archie Manning.
The Boilermakers’ success this season hinges greatly on Blough’s performance.
It will be up to Drew Lock and the Tigers to outperform Blough and company in a game that sets up as an early-season shootout between perhaps two of the nation’s most-prolific offenses.
The game is Mizzou’s first meeting against a Big Ten team since the 2014 Citrus Bowl, a 33-17 victory against Minnesota.
The Tigers also split a series with Indiana during the 2013 and 2014 seasons and own a six-game winning streak against Illinois since 2002.
MU’s only other meetings against Big Ten teams since 2001, excluding games with former Big 12 rival Nebraska before conference realignment, came in bowl games — a 30-23 win against Northwestern in the 2008 Alamo Bowl and a 27-24 loss against Iowa in the 2010 Insight Bowl.
Here’s a rundown of the 2017 Purdue team, the third installment in The Star’s examination of Mizzou’s upcoming schedule:
WEEK THREE — PURDUE
Date/location: Sept. 16 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia
Kickoff time (TV): 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
2016 season: 3-9 (1-8 Big Ten West)
Head coach: Jeff Brohm, first season at Purdue and fourth overall (30-10)
All-time series: Purdue leads 5-1
Last meeting: Purdue won 28-25 in the 1980 Liberty Bowl (Dec. 27, 1980, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis)
Five questions with Purdue beat writer Mark Carmin of The Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier:
1. What kind of reception has Jeff Brohm received in West Lafayette, Ind., and on the recruiting trail?
Brohm seems to fit what Purdue football should be about. He’s a former quarterback overseeing a program that prides itself on being the Cradle of Quarterbacks. His offense is different and could present Big Ten teams some problems but the roster remains short on talent. He’s assembled an experienced staff, which should help the program start the climb out of the basement. Recruiting has gone well, in terms of numbers. Brohm has 21 commitments since June 5 with more of an emphasis in the state and within three to four hours from campus.
2. Does Brohm have enough weapons to implement an effective version of his high-flying offense?
We don’t know yet. Purdue has three receivers in camp who weren’t here in the spring. Notre Dame graduate transfer Corey Holmes and junior college transfers Terry Wright and Isaac Zico are expected to play immediately. They’re an upgrade over spring practice. There are plenty of bodies at running back to pick from as Purdue could go four or five deep. The Boilermakers have two solid tight ends who will be a factor. Of course, quarterback David Blough has to run the offense. He needs to clean up his turnovers from last year.
3. As much as the Boilermakers’ offense needed improvement, the defense was the worst in the Big Ten last season. What’s the plan to improve on that side of the ball?
More aggressive and attacking approach. That will lead to giving up big plays, but at least the defense won’t be sitting back and waiting to allow yardage and touchdowns. The linebackers are the strength going into the season and the group needs to play like they have experience.
4. The new roster features a lot of junior college players and graduate-student transfers, so who will be a few of Purdue’s potential breakout stars?
Mentioned Holmes, Wright and Zico. Purdue also added graduate transfers on the offensive line, Shane Evans (Northern Illinois) and David Steinmetz (Rhode Island). Wake Forest graduate transfer John Okonye gives the secondary a veteran nickel/corner. Western Kentucky graduate transfer T.J. McCollum joins an experienced group at linebacker. Defensive lineman Ray Ellis, a junior college transfer, could be in the mix.
5. Two-part question: What’s your over/under for the Purdue/Mizzou game? May I just go ahead and take the over?
I’ll say 65 1/2 and yes.