No. 23 Boston College and Purdue are both chasing recent history when they meet in a non-conference game in West Lafayette, Indiana, Saturday.
For different reasons.
The Eagles, ranked for the first time since 2008, are seeking their first 4-0 start since 2007 — with a home game against Temple waiting the following week.
On the flip side, the Boilermakers are 0-3 for the first time since 1996 and could sink to 0-4 for the first time since 1987.
“They’re a team that’s very explosive,” BC coach Steve Addazio told his weekly media gathering on Monday. “Obviously, their quarterback broke the school’s single (game) passing record, which is quite a statement. Speaks to their ability to throw the ball down the field. Very talented.”
Now, before you start thinking Addazio was just engaging in the normal weekly coach-speak, consider this: The Boilermakers did lose — to former Big Ten foe Missouri — last week, but backup quarterback David Blough threw for a school-record 572 yards. He broke Drew Brees’ record, and Blough’s 590 yards of total offense was a Big Ten record.
“They remind me of us a year ago,” Addazio said. “It’s a developing football team that is scary. Their coach is a tough guy, a talented guy and that’s a tough place to go play.”
Playing for the injured Elijah Sindelar, who got hurt during the week, Blough was 39 of 55 for three touchdowns and an interception, and he also ran for 18 yards on six carries. He was named Big Ten offensive player of the week.
Here’s the thing about Blough: As of Monday, coach Jeff Brohm wasn’t committed to a starter for this week’s first-ever football matchup between the programs.
“You guys saw the game. I think we feel very confident in the progress David made,” Brohm said. “He played a very good game. He hung in there and made throws and sometimes he hung in there longer than he has in the past and made throws, which was huge progress. That was great to see.”
Sindelar, who threw four touchdown passes and amassed 396 passing yards in a bowl win over Arizona despite a torn ACL, still wasn’t throwing as of Sunday and there was no word on his status.
Addazio had no such decision to make.
After cruising through local opponents Massachusetts and FCS school Holy Cross, the Eagles went down to Winston-Salem and avenged last year’s home loss to Wake Forest. Quarterback Anthony Brown threw five touchdown passes, AJ Dillon ran for 185 yards and three TDs and Wyatt Ray set a school record of four sacks.
All three were honored by the ACC and Ray was named the national Walter Camp defensive player of the week. He leads the nation with 1.67 sacks per game.
Both Brown and Dillon, a preseason All-American, played fewer than three quarters in the two opening wins, and Dillon was named ACC running back of the week the previous week after just six carries (149 yards) in less than a quarter. Despite his lack of playing time in the first two games, the sophomore is fifth in the country with 144 yards per game.
BC is 10-2 since Dillon joined the starting lineup during his freshman season.
Brohm knows what he’s facing in the Eagles, who are favored to go to 4-0.
“They are going to try to run the football first and they have a great rushing attack and that’s what they are going to feed off, so that’s what we have to stop,” he said.
Said Addazio: “I think part of our maturation process of our program right now is to be able to take on one of those games, go get that done. That’s not easy. Compared to the ACC, I mean, these are all really good power conferences. They all have legitimate, talented players.”
Addazio said he will deal with his players’ mental state and make sure there’s no complacency with the program being back in the top 25.
“I think our guys are wired pretty good,” the coach said. “They know that’s like Kool-Aid, don’t drink that now. Just go about your business. They’ve been through the meat grinder, this team, right? They know where they started last year.
“These seniors know where they’ve come from, what they’ve gone through, what the focus is. It’s on one thing: finding a way, somehow find a way to go beat a really good football team at their place on the road, sing the fight song, get to 4-0. Just somehow find a way. That’s kind of our mindset. I’ll beat that all week long. I don’t think I even need to, but I will.”