Most important game: Purdue

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
10:15
AM ET
Our series looking at the most important game for each Big Ten team this season is beginning to wind down. As a reminder, these are games that will have the biggest impact on the league race or hold special meaning for one of the teams involved.

If you've missed the previous capsules, check 'em out here.

Let's look at the Purdue Boilermakers, who return 18 starters and appear to be a popular sleeper pick in the Big Ten entering the season.

Most important game: Oct. 13 vs. Wisconsin

Why it's important: We'll know very early during the Big Ten schedule whether Purdue will make noise in the Leaders division or be scrambling for a bowl spot. The Boilers open with a cross-division home showdown against Michigan before hosting defending Big Ten champ Wisconsin on homecoming. The Wisconsin game gets the nod because it takes place within the division and precedes a Purdue trip to Ohio State, which will be looking to avenge last year's overtime loss in West Lafayette. Purdue could have a tough time winning in Columbus, and it must avoid a 0-2 start in division play to make any type of push for Indy. Wisconsin has annihilated Purdue in Madison as of late, but the Badgers aren't nearly as dominant away from home, as we saw last season. Purdue will need a big performance from defensive tackle Kawann Short and must keep pace with Wisconsin on the ground. But if the Boilers are as good as fourth-year coach Danny Hope thinks they'll be, they should have an opportunity for an upset against the Badgers. A win could springboard Purdue, which has a very manageable closing stretch after the trip to Ohio State.

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