Purdue schedule ranking: No. 9 Nevada
9. Nevada, at Reno, Nev., August 30
GoldandBlack.com is counting down the "easiest" to "hardest" games of 2019.
This is the Boilermakers’ return visit to Reno after the Wolf Pack lost, 24-14, in Ross-Ade Stadium in 2016 in the lone meeting between the schools.
This Friday night affair has “trapdoor” written all over it. It’s a no-win situation for Purdue. If it wins vs. a Mountain West opponent, few around the nation will care; and if it loses, … well.
Complicating matters: Reno, Nev., is at 4,500 feet. (The altitude in West Lafayette is 614 feet.) Plus, Purdue hasn’t done well playing in the west the last 50 years: The Boilers lost the Rose Bowl (vs. Washington) and also fell twice at Washington while also losing at Oregon, at Cal, at USC, and at UCLA. The lone wins? At Arizona and in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. (vs. Arizona).
Nevada is coached by former Iowa cornerback Jay Norvell, who is 11-14 overall in two seasons but is coming off an 8-5 mark and an Arizona Bowl win vs. Arkansas State. Purdue fans may recall that Norvell was under consideration to be the Boilermakers' "head coach in waiting" under Joe Tiller in 2008 before former A.D. Morgan Burke turned to Danny Hope.
The Wolf Pack will be breaking in a new quarterback, for what that’s worth. "Last Chance U" signal-caller Malik Henry is in the running. Whoever is under center will have some good skill to utilize. A name to know: Toa Taua, a bowling ball running back. The defense lost four of its top five tacklers from a unit that showed improvement last season.LB Gabriel Sewell is an anchor.
Bottom line: Some pundits think the Boilermakers will stumble here. You never know what's gonna happen the first game of the season. So many unknowns for every team. Factor in going a long way from home and altitude, and you can see why some feel this is a dangerous game for Purdue--which has lost its season-opener in each of Jeff Brohm's first two years.
Style points don't matter. Win ugly. Just win. A victory is what the Boilermakers need to buoy confidence as they come home to wrestle with Vanderbilt and TCU. Losing to a Group of Five program would be in inauspicious way to begin 2019.
Series: 1-0, Purdue
Last Purdue win: 2016, 24-14, at West Lafayette
Last Nevada win: none
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