My look back at the best case-worst case series continues with ... Purdue.
In case you missed it: Purdue's best case-worst case.
Best-case synopsis: The Boilermakers receive good production from both their veterans and their newcomers and surprise opponents with greater team speed. ... Purdue surges to a 5-1 start behind sophomore running back Ralph Bolden and a stout defensive line. ... The Boilers upset Notre Dame and run over Wisconsin to finish 8-4. ... They advance to the Valero Alamo Bowl and beat Kansas. ... Defensive tackle Mike Neal earns first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Worst-case synopsis: Purdue can't find an offensive rhythm or stop the run, as the program gets mired in transition. ... The Boilers fall to Toledo in the opener and stumble out of the gate. ... First-year starting quarterback Joey Elliott can't prevent interceptions. ... The defense never contains the run and allows too many big plays, especially to Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. ... Purdue goes winless in Big Ten play for the first time since 1993.
You can't handle the truth: (quotes from the original post) "The team is faster and more athletic on both sides of the ball, as Ralph Bolden sparks the rushing attack in an easy win against Toledo." ... "Purdue then heads to Eugene and paces Oregon before losing." ... "[Purdue] crushes Indiana for the second straight year." ... "Purdue loses a close one to Michigan State." ... "[The Boilers] miss the postseason for the second straight year."
Lies, lies, lies: "Purdue improves to 5-1 with wins against Northwestern and Minnesota before losing a defensive struggle against Ohio State." ... "The Boilers fall the next week against Illinois but bounce back in Madison as Bolden and Jaycen Taylor combine for 250 rush yards against a questionable Wisconsin front seven." ... "Oregon remembers last year's near upset in West Lafayette and thrashes Purdue 42-7." ... "Terrelle Pryor then runs wild as Ohio State hands Purdue its fourth straight loss." ... "Indiana avenges last year's blowout with a 35-point victory at Memorial Stadium that secures bowl eligibility for Bill Lynch's crew." ... "The Boilers go winless in the Big Ten for the first time since 1993."
Reality check: Purdue entered the season as the Big Ten's mystery team, and not surprisingly, the Boilers followed an unpredictable path this fall. They started 1-5, as a wave of turnovers eclipsed any progress being made on both sides of the ball. No one predicted a win against Ohio State, but Purdue snapped its long losing streak against ranked teams by stunning the Buckeyes. Elliott exceeded most expectations in his only year as the starting quarterback, and both Bolden and wideout Keith Smith emerged as stars. The defense had its ups and downs, but Ryan Kerrigan turned in a great season at end. Purdue ultimately made too many mistakes to reach a bowl, but it went 4-4 in Big Ten play and notched some nice wins along the way.