FORT WAYNE – Coach: Darrell Hazell (hiring announced Dec. 5)
Record: 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
What went wrong: Purdue was thought of as a surprise pick to win a wide-open Leaders Division at the beginning of the season. But the Boilermakers got off to an awful start once conference play started, losing their first five Big Ten games. Four of the losses weren’t even close. The tailspin contributed to a coaching change after the regular season ended.
Purdue ranked 10th in the Big Ten in scoring defense, giving up 31.2 points per game. The Boilermakers were 11th in total defense, giving up 415.8 yards per game.
Injuries played a major role in slowing down the defense. Stars such as junior cornerback Ricardo Allen played through injuries for most of the season. Return specialist Raheem Mostert missed a large chunk of the season because of an injury.
What went right: Purdue won its final three games of the regular season to make a bowl game for the second straight year.
Quarterback Robert Marve provided inspiration for the team, coming back from an ACL injury. The senior passed for 1,734 yards and 15 touchdowns and started the final five games. Purdue ranked third in the Big Ten in passing offense, averaging 238.5 yards per game.
Defensive tackle Kawann Short earned second-team All-American honors. He had 43 tackles, 15 1/2 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four pass breakups, four blocked kicks, two fumbles recovered and one forced fumble.
Sophomore safety Landon Feichter, from Bishop Dwenger, started the season as a walk-on. He finished as Purdue’s leading tackler with 80 this season. He also had four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Feichter, who shared the defensive MVP honor with Short, was awarded a scholarship for next semester in November.
Outlook: Purdue’s season ended with a 58-14 loss to Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Short and Marve are among those who played their final game Monday with Purdue.
The next step starts with the new coach. Hazell, who replaces Danny Hope, comes to Purdue from Kent State, where he was named MAC Coach of the Year after leading the Golden Flashes to an 11-2 record.
Hazell is 16-9 in two seasons at Kent State (he will coach the team in its GoDaddy.com Bowl game Sunday. Purdue looked for an offensive-minded coach. Kent State is averaging 34.6 points per game.