When a team is looking to make a coaching change, they usually look for a big and flashy name; they want to make a splash. At a place like Purdue, the big and flashy name just isn't going to be there. So, the Boilermakers did the best they could and went with Darrell Hazell, a man who had only two years of head coaching experience, all at Kent State. Yes, going from 5-7 to 11-3 in the span of one year is a good turnaround, but is he the answer to stopping the Boilers from stooping to an Illinois level of ineffectiveness? Let's take a look at their schedule.
8/31 @ Cincinnati: This isn't necessarily the way that any struggling team would like to start things out in 2013. Cincinnati, although not necessarily a powerhouse, has been a very solid program for the last decade or so. They've had a succession of pretty darn good head coaches in Brian Kelly, Butch Jones, and now Tommy Tuberville. It is quite possible that Purdue will start the season at 0-1.
9/7 Indiana State: Here's another non-pushover opponent. Indiana State is a very solid program who took Indiana to the brink last year, and beat the top FCS team. The days of an FBS team just walking past a good FCS school are long gone (and I still don't like scheduling them); these are schools that are finding ways to do more with less and making the big boys pay, or at least shaking their confidence.
9/14 Notre Dame: Although Indiana State is good, I don't see them winning, so Purdue will probably be 1-1 heading into the intrastate battle with the Irish. It will be interesting to see just who will lead the Boilermakers, though. Will it be the experienced Rob Henry, Austin Appelby, or Danny Etling? It sounds as though the battle will be between Henry and Etling. Either way, Purdue stands little chance of winning this one.
9/21 @ Wisconsin: Two first year coaches at these respective schools could make for an interesting game. Will the proven Gary Andersen continue his success in Madison? Will the up-and-comer Hazell be the kick-start that Boiler fans have been waiting for? Andersen probably has the best set-up of these two guys. Bielema
was is a douche, but he was able to lay a decent foundation (albeit one that Alvarez laid down for him). Both teams will be relatively young at the quarterback position(regardless of Henry's starts for Purdue) and struggles could be a-plenty here. However, when it comes right down to it, I think that Camp Randall and a solid group will win this one for Bucky.
9/28 Northern Illinois: Jordan Lynch. Oh, you wanted more? Okay...Jordan Lynch. Unless he's playing Florida State, he's really good. Hazell should have Purdue playing well enough to stave off a loss this week.
10/12 Nebraska: Yet another Corn-Fed Division battle. Taylor Martinez has been up and down throughout his career, but he isn't terrible. Martinez has good weapons on offense, but they need to watch the turnovers and make some defensive improvements.
10/19 @ Michigan State: State's going to be a little shaky at QB and on defense, but there's no way they'll let Purdue walk out of Spartan Stadium with a victory.
11/2 Ohio State: Uhhh...sorry Boilers. At least you can be buried at home.
11/9 Iowa: The second battle within the Corn-Fed Division will be hard to watch. This is probably going to be one of those 6 to 3 pillow fights that may make you question your interest in football if you end up watching this. But you won't actually be watching this game. And if you do, you're not going to admit it unless you're an Iowa or Purdue fan. Even then I'm not so sure.
11/16 @ Penn State: This is a tough road test for anyone to handle, but a team in rebuilding mode will have an even more difficult time at Beaver Stadium. Even with the recent issues in State College, the Lions have been able to maintain more than respectability.
11/23 Illinois: You need to win this, Purdue. Seriously. You'll have enough losses on your schedule, don't let this be one of them.
11/30 @ Indiana: Indiana will win this one to gain bowl eligibility, which means that Purdue will probably end up at a disappointing 4-8.
Last year's Boilers went 6-7, which doesn't seem too terrible on the surface. Then you look at who they beat: Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall. Yes, they beat Illinois, too, but that's not something to hang your hat on, except to say "Whew! At least we didn't lose to Illinois!" To give them credit, though, they did play Notre Dame and a Braxton Miller-less Ohio State close, so there is ability on this team. The schedule won't do Purdue any favors, so I just can't see how they'll be better than four or five wins. My overall assessment of Purdue's upcoming season: