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Purdue University

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at Minnesota
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1380 AM, 92.7 FM
Associated Press
Purdue’s Akeem Hunt had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Ohio State on Saturday. It was his fourth score of 50 yards or more this season.

Purdue back’s role: ‘just be a playmaker’

– Big plays have become Akeem Hunt’s specialty.

The sophomore running back has four touchdowns of at least 50 yards this season for Purdue (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten, which plays at Minnesota (4-3, 0-3) on Saturday..

His fourth came when he returned a kickoff 100 yards in the Boilermakers’ overtime loss at Ohio State last Saturday.

“Thanks to the coaches, they are giving me the shot to make those big plays,” Hunt said in a phone interview Tuesday. “They are putting me in predicaments to use my speed around the field.

“It’s thanks to the coaches and all the blockers.”

The previous week, Hunt had an 81-yard rushing touchdown against Wisconsin. He had a touchdown catch of 50 yards and a 54-yard touchdown run Sept. 15 against Eastern Michigan.

“I’m the speedy guy. They’ll put me in the slot, they’ll put me in the backfield, just to use my speed,” Hunt said. “My role is to just be a playmaker.”

Hunt has 272 rushing yards this season and two rushing touchdowns. He is averaging 9.7 yards per carry. Hunt also has 140 receiving yards with a TD.

“He’s very, very fast,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said during his weekly teleconference Tuesday. “When he gets out in the open, he’s hard to catch. He’s one of the fastest guys on our football team.

“He’s a fantastic speed guy, a high-motor guy, high-energy guy, and he’s wiry tough.”

Hunt appeared in 12 games as a reserve last season and finished third on the team with 287 rushing yards. He had 100 rushing yards in the regular-season finale against Indiana.

That performance helped Purdue reach a bowl game. The Boilermakers are looking to turn things back around this season after suffering their third straight loss Saturday.

“We have to come out with the same attitude we had against Notre Dame and Ohio State that no one is better than us,” Hunt said. “We have to go out and play our hearts out and leave it all on the field.”

Note: The Boilermakers are taking a “wait-and-see” approach with cornerback Ricardo Allen, who missed the Ohio State game with a lower leg injury.

“We sent him to get an MRI (Monday), and the results came back negative,” Hope said. “He has some issues, but nothing that has to be repaired or that’s serious. He’s had a couple of difficult ankle sprains and practicing and hobbling and limping on them has created some shin issues and soreness in his shins and calcium deposits.”