- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Purdue's quarterback situation might frustrate and confuse its fans at times, but the Boilers are pretty good elsewhere.
In fact, they might be the best team in the Leaders Division.
Purdue rode its run game and its defense to a 54-16 win against Eastern Michigan, improving to 2-1 before a bye week. The Boilers forced three turnovers and didn't allow an offensive touchdown, until the fourth quarter following up their effort at Notre Dame with another stout defensive performance.
Facing an Eastern Michigan team that entered the game ranked 118th nationally in rush defense, Purdue took full advantage with its group of ball carriers and racked up 384 rush yards in the victory. Starting running back Akeem Shavers set the tone with a 40-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Brandon Cottom later broke free for an 87-yard scoring dash. The Boilers finished with 184 rush yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries in the first half (9.7 ypc), surging to a 33-9 lead. Although Akeem Hunt's 51-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter was technically a reception, he did almost all of the work with his legs. Hunt (5 touches, 156 yards, 2 TDs) had a huge day, showing why he's such a big-play threat for Purdue.
Starting quarterback Caleb TerBush recovered from a shaky start that included a pick-six to complete 16-of-25 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior Antavian Edison. With Robert Marve (knee) sidelined at least for a while, the Boilers will lean on TerBush, who has to limit his turnovers when Big Ten play kicks off.
The run game did what it was supposed to against a bad defense, but Purdue's most encouraging element was the play of its own D. The line is one of the Big Ten's best, and several playmakers stepped up in the secondary, including Frankie Williams and Josh Johnson, who both had interceptions.
Purdue wraps up non-league play Sept. 29 against Marshall before beginning a season-defining stretch -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State -- to open Big Ten play. This much is known: the Boilers are serious contenders in a very winnable Leaders Division.
Purdue's quarterback situation might frustrate and confuse its fans at times, but the Boilers are pretty good elsewhere.In fact, they might be the best team in the Leaders Division.