Ah, Purdue. We make a lot of fun of the Boilermakers around these parts, and not without cause, but the truth is Illinois is a lot closer to permanent Purdue status than anyone would like to admit. Our guest this week, Travis Miller from Hammer and Rails, shows us how fans of a hopeless program get on with life. We thank him for his time.
Smile Politely: Before Saturday which would have surprised you more: Purdue beating Nebraska in a football game or Mitch Daniels cutting the football program as a cost-saving measure?
Travis Miller: Probably cutting the program, but not by a wide margin. This team has looked so ill-prepared all season it was stunning. I think what shocked us more was responding to Nebraska’s TD drive to start the second half. It cut the lead to 21-16 and Purdue was ripe to go three-and-out and give the lead right up. Instead, Purdue scored 21 straight points. I was drinking a beer in the South End Zone and had to make sure someone didn’t lace it with LSD because we NEVER have an answer there.
SP: Your site is already looking forward to replacing Darrell Hazell as head coach, does that mean you're jealous of the position Illinois is in?
Miller: I don’t think anyone should ever be jealous of Illinois football, sorry.
SP: Is branding hot dogs with the Purdue logo a warning that consuming said hot dog will cause you to lose control of your bowels, as the Boilermakers have with 77% of the games Hazell has coached?
Miller: It is no secret we have thought the Hazell hire (mostly because of offensive coordinator John Shoop) has been a disaster. You can’t start 5-26 and think otherwise. That’s what made the win over Nebraska so stunning. We have already seen bad showings against backup quarterbacks (Virginia Tech) and banged up teams (Minnesota) where Purdue looked awful. Instead, it was Purdue that was not screwing up and making other teams pay for their mistakes. We all expected to get blown out, so being up 42-16 at one point was a pleasant surprise.
SP: Wikipedia says Purdue football was nicknamed "Cornfield Sailors" before Boilermakers caught on. How is it possible that Boilermakers was the least lame nickname possible?
Miller: As the story goes, Wabash College said we hired ringers from a local train repair shop after we whupped them sometime in the late 1800s and the name stuck. I wanted to go with “Pumpkinshuckers”, which is another name we had used.
SP: On a scale of Gene Keady's hair to Drew Brees' birthmark, how little do you care about the Purdue Cannon trophy?
Miller: Is that even a scale? [Ed. note: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ] I kind of like it because, hey, it’s a trophy. It is something fun to parade around and Purdue has won it a lot lately. There wasn’t a lot to be happy about last year, but winning a trophy game and having something to show for the year was at least nice. Purdue and Illinois should play for the rights to a Beef House buffet or something.
SP: Opponents have outgained Purdue by almost 20% and outscored Purdue by 25%. With that in mind, what are the odds Wes Lunt has a 7-touchdown game this week?
Miller: I fully expect it to happen. I don’t trust Greg Hudson one bit when he has his corners giving a 10-yard cushion on receivers. Even against Nebraska a 29-point fourth quarter had us sweating when we shouldn’t have been sweating. After actually getting some momentum it would be like this coaching staff to get blown out at home by Illinois.
SP: Given the game is called football, why are the Boilermakers so bad at kicking the ball?
Miller: Paul Griggs is in a terrible slump after a good junior season. At least Joe Schopper has been impressive as a freshman punter. Griggs is so shaky right now we have not attempted a field goal in B1G play and haven’t made one since Virginia Tech.
SP: How long before the NCAA cracks down on Tario Fuller for impermissible gift giving?
Miller: I thought that too. I am sure he violated some rule.
SP: Do you have any tips for us Illini fans as we inch nearer to being the second Purdue (i.e., completely irrelevant) in the Big Ten West?
Miller: Drink heavily. Rely on the hope that basketball brings.
SP: How sad is the game Saturday going to be?
Miller: I think Purdue can get one of those winning streaks going. It won in Champaign last year and despite the record, I think they have been better this year. We don’t have the speed of Akeem Hunt or Raheem Mostert anymore but Markell Jones has been impressive and I think he can have a big day. The Illinois offense doesn’t exactly strike fear in my heart, either.