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2022 football season preview: Purdue Boilermakers

They could be good, they could be bad: a Purdue story.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl - Purdue v Tennessee Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It is time for the 2022 Wisconsin Badgers football season preview extravaganza to begin! Over the next (almost) two months we will be preparing you for the upcoming football season. We’ve got previews of every team on Wisconsin’s schedule, we’ve got positional breakdowns of each group at UW, we’ll have predictions for the full conference, rankings of the top units in the Big Ten as well as a couple of larger features that we think are interesting.

Next up we take a look at the Purdue Boilermakers!

Team: Purdue Boilermakers
Head coach: Jeff Brohm, sixth season, 28-29
2021 record: 9-4, 6-3 Big Ten Conference
Game info: Saturday, October 22nd, 2:30 CT, Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.

Top returning players

  • Senior, QB Aidan O’Connell, 3,172 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
  • Senior, TE Payne Durham, 45 receptions, 467 yards, six touchdowns
  • Senior, S Jalen Graham, 64 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions
Indiana v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Top newcomers

  • WR Tyrone Tracy, transfer from Iowa, 66 career receptions at Iowa, used as a hybrid WR/RB, Tracy should fit nicely in the speedster role that Jeff Brohm loves to implement
  • QB Brady Allen, 4-star prospect from Indiana, highest rated recruit in 2022 class
  • DL Nic Caraway, 4-star prospect from Bryan, Texas, second ranked player in 2022 class

Top newcomers from Wisconsin!

  • None. Stay the hell outta here Jeff Brohm!

2021 season review

To start the season Purdue went 2-1 in the non-conference knocking off Oregon State and rolling UConn. They then traveled to Notre Dame and played a tightly fought contest till the end but fell 27-13. In that contest, the defense showed some potential, but the offense slowed, a trend that would continue the following two weeks. In their next contest, the Boilermakers won an ugly 13-9 game over Illinois, and the following week fell to Minnesota 20-13.

Syndication: HawkCentral
The Boilermakers celebrating in an empty Kinnick after upsetting the Hawkeyes.
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

With a gauntlet still ahead of them in Big Ten play it felt like Purdue was at a make-or-break point of the season as Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State all remained on the schedule. The following week Purdue traveled to Iowa City to take on the then No. 2 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. The Boilermakers renamed them the Fraudeyes as they dominated Iowa 24-7 on their home turf.

The week after it felt like Purdue brought a ton of momentum to their contest with Wisconsin in hopes of ending the Badgers 14-game win streak over the Boilermakers. Sadly for them, it was false hope, as the Badgers took it to Purdue 30-13 on the back of Braelon Allen who ran for 140 yards on just 12 carries.

Purdue then knocked off Nebraska before taking on ninth ranked Michigan State at home. Once again, Purdue rose to the challenge and defeated a top-ten team, 40-29. The magic didn’t continue the following week though as Purdue fell to Ohio State.

To end the year Purdue defeated Big Ten basement dwellers Northwestern and Indiana to finish the regular season 8-4. They then headed to Nashville for the Music City Bowl where they played the wildest game of the bowl season, defeating Tennessee 48-45.

2022 season preview

Last season Purdue went into the year feeling a lot like, well, Purdue. Could be good, could be bad, probably 7-5 and in a bowl game. However, despite modest expectations, it seemed like Jeff Brohm and company found something to build on in his fifth season as the Boilermakers won nine games, the most since 2003, including some huge upsets along the way.

This year, the feelings are somewhat similar. Offensively, Purdue had some highs but also had some slow points throughout the season. Despite some struggles, Purdue finished the season as a top-50 offense and will look to get back to that point again this season.

Aidan O’Connell is back at quarterback for a third season, which should give Purdue a nice piece to start with. Around him, there are question marks as star wideout David Bell is off to the NFL after racking up 1,286 yards a season ago. O’Connell will have to find a new top target, which could be tight end Payne Durham or Iowa transfer Tyrone Tracey. Finding a connection like Bell will be crucial as it’s clear they are going to throw early and often.

Indiana v Purdue Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Last year, one big change for Purdue were the efforts defensively. The Boilermakers were a top-50 defense a season ago and had multiple games won on the backs of their defense. This year a lot of pieces are back from that unit, nine starters in total, but some big ones also departed. Defensive end George Karlaftis departed after leading the team in sacks and racking up 11.5 tackles for loss. Additionally, Purdue loses leading tackler Jaylan Alexander who accumulated 114 tackles last season.

Overall, it feels like Purdue is at a good spot to start the season, but they certainly have positions to fill. Much like the rest of the Big Ten West, they could finish first or last in the division.

The schedule is a bit easier this year with Indiana State, Syracuse, and Florida Atlantic in the non-conference. For crossover games, the Boilermakers draw Penn State at home to start the season, Maryland on the road, and Indiana at home to finish the season which is more manageable than Ohio State and Michigan State. 9-3 feels possible, 8-4 seems realistic, but 7-5 and 6-6 are not off the table either.