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Purdue players react to last-place ranking in media poll

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CHICAGO -- Purdue cornerback Frankie Williams threw up his hands and shrugged. Yes, he had heard about the preseason media poll that ranked the Boilermakers last -- and, no, he wasn’t happy about it.

“I mean, that’s fine. I think it’s awesome. I’m happy for the person who said that,” a visibly frustrated Williams said. “Hopefully, that luck or whatever they’ve got going with that is good for them. I don’t worry about it; we don’t care about it. I don’t really have much to say about it.

“They’ll continue to do that; we’ll continue what we have to do. We’ll win and they’ll jump on the bandwagon late, and that’ll be that.”

In Cleveland.com’s recent media poll, which included 40 voters, the Boilermakers finished dead last in the projected standings with a point total of 59. No other team finished with fewer than 75 points. (Illinois had 77 and Indiana had 76.5.)

In just 30 minutes, Williams had been told those numbers and asked about that topic so often, he had lost count how many times he answered it. “I don’t know. It’s kind of frustrating though,” he said. “I really don’t like thinking about it. It makes me real mad.”

It became a routine question because Purdue routinely has been the Big Ten’s doormat. The Boilermakers are 1-15 in the conference the last two seasons; they last had a winning year in 2011; they last had a winning conference record in 2006 and haven’t had double-digit wins since 1979.

So, sure, the question that irked Williams was about the poll. But it could have just as easily been: No one thinks you’re going to be good -- and you haven’t been -- so why will this year be any different?

“Anytime you have the season we’ve had, you just have to expect that,” wideout Danny Anthrop said. “It’d be kind of tough to see where else they’d put us because we haven’t shown what we’re capable of. And you just have to not worry about that and keep working toward what we want to do.”

Of course, these Boilermakers believe they’re capable of more. And maybe they are. Purdue beat Illinois, 38-27, last season and, in three of their conference losses, they were within a score heading into the fourth quarter. They trailed by a touchdown against Iowa, led Minnesota by two points and tied Indiana -- but lost all three games.

“Some newspaper telling us we’re last doesn’t affect anybody,” center Robert Kugler said. “I don’t read that stuff, personally. It’s just not something I really care about because the people that predict those things aren’t training with us. They go off our record last year, which is understandable. That’s what we put on the field. But we definitely left a lot out there that we know we can put on the field last year.”

This is a team that could have been .500 last season so, Kugler said, he sees potential. Especially considering Purdue could be an improved team with a sleeper group of linebackers, healthy receivers and, just maybe, a quarterback who remains the starter throughout the season.

For now, though, Williams might have said it best when asked why 2015 will be different.

“We’ll show you better than we can tell you,” he said.