2006 Champs Sports Bowl - Purdue vs. Maryland

Posted Dec 14, 2006

2006 Champs Sports Bowl Preview & Prediction - Purdue vs. Maryland

Purdue (8-5) vs. Maryland (8-4)

Dec. 29th, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Several bowl games this season should be offensive shootouts thanks to fantastic offenses and explosive weapons.

The 2006 Champs Sports Bowl won't be one of them, and it's not because the offenses are awful. Well, the Maryland offense isn't exactly what you'd call potent, but this will likely be an offensive show because the defenses flat-out stink.

Purdue has taken a two-year break from stopping anyone finishing this season 114th in the nation allowing 433 yards per game while getting scored on more than Britney on a bender. Maryland's attack has been consistently average, but the Boilermaker D provides just the cure to get well.

National Rankings
Purdue Maryland
Total Offense
10th  425.77 ypg 96th  303.67 ypg
Total Defense
114th  432.69 ypg 89th  366.92 ypg
Scoring Offense
92nd  26.92 ppg 78th  21.67 ppg
Scoring Defense
92nd  26.92 ppg 65th  23.08 ppg
Run Offense
62nd  132.08 ypg 77th  123.92 ypg
Run Defense
112th  190.08 ypg 102nd  174.75 ypg
Pass Offense
6th  293.69 ypg 81st  179.75 ypg
Pass Defense
106th  242.62 ypg 49th  192.17 ypg
Turnover Margin
52nd  0.08 101st  -0.67
Indiana St W 60-35
Miami U. W 38-31 OT
Ball State W 38-28
Minnesota W 27-21
at N Dame L 35-21
at Iowa L 47-17
at Nwest W 31-10
Wisconsin L 24-3
Penn State L 12-0
at Mich St W 17-15
at Illinois W 42-31
W 28-19
at Hawaii L 42-35
Will & Mary W 27-14
MTSU W 24-10
at West Va L 45-24
W 14-10
at Ga Tech L 27-23
at Virginia W 28-26
NC State
W 26-20
Florida St W 27-24
at Clemson W 13-12
Miami W 14-13
at Bos Coll L 38-16
Wake Forest L 38-24
Position Ratings
relative to each other
P 5 highest
1 lowest
4 Quarterbacks 3
3.5 RBs 3.5
5 Receivers 3.5
4 O Line 3
3 D Line 3
2.5 Linebackers 4
2.5 Secondary 3.5
2 Spec Teams 4.5
4 Coaching 4

Basically, Purdue won every game it was supposed to, and lost every game it was supposed to. The offense bombed away on Notre Dame in s 35-21 loss, the defense showed up against an offensively challenged Penn State in a 12-0 loss, and Hawaii needed a big late drive to win 42-35. The best win came at home over Minnesota, while the second best win came over ... Indiana? Ball State? Let's just say Purdue still has a lot to prove.

Maryland was rarely great, but it was almost always clutch in close games beating FIU by four, Virginia by two, NC State by six, Florida State by three, Clemson by one and Miami by one. Along the way, the offense gained confidence knowing it could come through when it had to getting a late drive and a last second field goal to beat Clemson and two long touchdown catches from Darrius Heyward-Bey to beat Miami.

For the most part, the Terps defy all logic. There passing game is efficient, but not consistent. The running game is mediocre and can't control games, the defense gives up drive and yards in bunches, and then there are the turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers giving away 23 on the year with seven over the final two games.

Purdue is all about throwing the ball, mostly to try to keep pace in games the defense isn't effective. The offensive line has been solid all season long, mostly in pass protection, while the receiving corps has enough weapons to keep the Terp defenders busy for a full sixty minutes. Fine, the defense has had its moments against the average offenses and it's an aggressive group that can get into the backfield, but for the most part, it's been awful.

These might not be the most perfect teams around, but one will finish the year with its ninth win and on the upswing going into 2007. This is one of the most unpredictable bowl games of the year, and with the way Purdue plays in the post-season, with its last seven among the most entertaining in each bowl season, this could be more fun than it'll get credit for.

Players to watch: Purdue will likely try to win with the running game, but the offense revolves around QB Curtis Painter. Originally inserted in the lineup last year for Brandon Kirsch because he was better at making the pitch in the option, Painter grew into a mad bomber this year with 200 passing yards or more in every game but two and with three 400-yard days. He wasn't used all that often as a runner this year, but he's likely to run a bit more option on the Terps. At the very least, he'll take off more rather than force his throws.

While Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach will certainly get his throws in, Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball will likely carry the offense. Lattimore has it all with breakaway speed in a 235-pound frame, but he only has all but disappeared after the first two games until he tore off 114 yards on 15 carries against Virginia and finished the year as the workhorse against Wake Forest with 119 yards on 23 carries. Ball is a bit more of a shifty, dependable back who's more likely to pound away than break off the big run.

The Terp backs should be able to do whatever they want against the squishy-soft Purdue defensive tackles, but they'll be sure to run away from senior Anthony Spencer on the outside. One of the Big Ten's most productive defensive players with 10.5 sacks, even though he's not a pure pass rusher, 86 tackles, and 26.5 tackles for loss. He'll require the attention of two blockers on every play.

Maryland's defense will need a phenomenal game out of corner Josh Wilson, who'll likely lock up on Purdue's Dorien Bryant whenever possible. With great speed and excellent tackling ability for his size, Wilson is the one player Painter needs to look for before every snap. Expect the rest of the Terp secondary to be tested early and often.

Maryland will win if... it controls the clock with the running game, limits the turnovers, and at all costs, avoids a firefight. Even against Purdue's porous defense, Maryland likely won't be able to score in bunches. More often than not, the Boilermakers were stingy against the lousy offenses giving up just ten to Northwestern, 12 to Penn State and 19 to Indiana; Maryland's offense is lousy. Ball and Lattimore have to be effective pounding the ball and keeping the chains moving to keep the Purdue offense off the field. Unfortunately, Purdue is great at converting on third downs while Maryland only converts 34.8% of its chances. If the Terps don't run for 200 yards and don't hold on to the ball for more than 33 minutes (they're 92nd in the nation in time of possession while Purdue is 107th), they likely won't win.

will win if... it wins the turnover battle. Purdue has the far better offense and should be able to, as simplistic as this might sound, outscore the Terps if everything is even. If the offense starts giving the ball away and provides Maryland with short fields and several easy opportunities, there will be trouble. Hollenbach and the offense is good at capitalizing on errors, and Purdue lost ten fumbles over the final three games and turned it over 29 times on the year.

What will happen: The aggressiveness of the Purdue defense will make up for most of the problems, while the offense will be too balanced and too potent for the Terps. Maryland will pound the ball for at least 250 running yards and will crank out several big drives, but not enough of them will turn into scores. It'll be a tight game until Painter and Bryant start to get into a second half groove putting the game out of reach, while Spencer and the Purdue defensive front will do a great job of consistently getting to Hollenbach to thwart a comeback.

Line: Maryland -3 ... CFN Prediction:
Purdue 31 ... Maryland 27