Records: Boilermakers (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten); Spartans (5-1, 2-0)
When: Noon today
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1380 AM
On the Web: To watch a video preview for the game, go to Boiling Point at www.journalgazette.net
3 matchups to watch
Purdue quarterback Danny Etling vs. Michigan State pressure: Etling, a true freshman, was sacked five times in his debut as a starter: a 44-7 drubbing in West Lafayette to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers brought pressure on every dropback, and after the game Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said he expects to see more of that until Etling proves he can handle the heat. Michigan State gives up a NCAA-best 58 rushing yards per game, and when the Spartans make teams one-dimensional, they can dive into their blitz packages and cause havoc. Iowa and Indiana have fallen victim to that this season. The Purdue offensive line will need to play its best game of the season, and Etling will need to make much better decisions with the ball for the Boilers to have a shot today.
Purdue defensive line vs. Michigan State run game: The Spartans seem to have found themselves offensively since the start of the Big Ten season, which makes a bad matchup even worse for Purdue. Jeremy Langford ran for three touchdowns in a 42-28 win against Indiana and caught a screen pass for another score. The Boilermakers have struggled against the run this season, and that has opened things up for teams on third down. Purdue will focus on limiting Langford, as well as Nick Hill and Delton Williams, who are all averaging more than 4 yards per carry this season.
Purdue freshmen vs. freshman mistakes: Hazell hates nothing more than turnovers and missed assignments. But in trying to field the most talented team he can, the first-year coach has to risk more of those. The Boilermakers sent 34 freshmen on the road for the Wisconsin game, and they will likely send that many or more to East Lansing. Of that group, Hazell said, most play, and many – like Etling, freshman receiver DeAngelo Yancey and a slew of defensive players – play prominent roles. Winning the turnover battle might not make much of a difference in the outcome against the Spartans, but it will be a rare sign of progress for the Boilermakers.
Prediction: Michigan State 30, Purdue 10