SOC - Purdue 2022
Let me set the scene for you. I'm in my kitchen. It's currently 12:32 am. There are eight people staying here for the tailgate tomorrow morning. Tyler is one of those eight people, and he's writing about the basketball game across the kitchen. He's watching highlights of the game, so I know that I'll get my SOC finished before he gets his basketball story finished.
There are three other people still up, and those three are in the living room watching 90's rock videos. The selection right now: Enter Sandman. And as I type that, Enter Sandman ends and they've moved on to Pearl Jam. EWBTCIAST is the choice. Hearts and thoughts? They fade.
My wife is a saint. She got home from a business trip at 11:00 pm. She enters the house to... seven of our friends eating and drinking and watching Tool videos. And she joined in for an hour before going to bed at midnight.
No, this is not my typical "find a quiet spot to clear my head and write about the game tomorrow. But it will have to do. I'll sometimes go write outside on the patio when there's no quiet spot to write in the house, but it's 29 degrees outside. I can't write when it's 29 degrees.
Speaking of 29 degrees, this game will not be fun tomorrow (weather-wise). High of 38 but that's at 3:00 pm after the game is over. We're probably looking at... 32 degrees at kickoff? Maybe 34? 15 mph wins making it feel even colder. Snow flurries in the air.
This is going to be the big test for my whole "I'm in the stands, not the pressbox" thing. I still have a seat up in the pressbox. And it's warm. And there's free food and drink. And I could actually tweet because I'd be able to connect to the wifi.
AND, my mom is supposed to sit with me tomorrow at the game. But when I talked to her the other day she was pointing to the forecast and talking about maybe only going to the tailgate and not the game. So I could see that pushing me closer to the pressbox. No one in the stands with me, cold wind hitting me in the face... it's going to be tempting. I'll let you know where I end up.
The question, obviously: how much will the weather affect the game? We didn't handle the wind last week (although that wind was 2.5 times this wind), so are we going to fail at field position again? Cold and windy games usually point to "advantage team that can run the ball", and Purdue can't really run the ball, so advantage us, right? I'm not so sure.
Let me say it this way. If this was Thursday's weather - 75 degrees, sunny, no wind - then I would probably be predicting a blowout tonight. With perfect weather, I think we'd be ready to have a "holy crap we're good" game again. If it was 75 and no wind, I'd be sitting here writing "Tommy throws for 320 and Chase rushes for 180 tomorrow". I feel like this is a good matchup for us, and I feel like Tommy is ready to have a HOLY CRAP game. Without the weather, that's what I would be feeling tomorrow.
But 33 degrees at game time with a 12-15 mph wind gusting to 22? I'm not sure Tommy throws for 320 in that. So then I'm left to wonder how explosive our offense can be if we're back in last week's "consistent drives, but can we finish?" offense.
It's funny - I've talked about us taking advantage of the Champaign wind for so long and now I'm incredibly angry about the weather the last two weeks. I think we win last week without the wind, and I'd be predicting a blowout tomorrow without the wind and cold, but here I am, talking about how the weather might affect the outcome again.
I guess I should clarify here. You're thinking about Purdue's pass-heavy offense and saying "if it's windy and cold, that affects them a lot more than us". Yes, it is a problem for them. But I feel like they'll be much better at their "short passes to keep the chains moving" offense than we will. We're a "short, quick passes" team as well, but after last week's "all these yards don't matter if you can't punch it in" performance, I'm worried that Purdue can punch it in with O'Connell and we can't.
As I'm typing this out, I'm realizing that this is kind of a "who hurt you?" thing for me. Losing a wind game because Michigan State played the wind better than we played the wind still bothers me so much. Average starting field position FOURTEEN YARDS better than ours. We were playing football up hill.
So maybe I need to get over that. Maybe I need to see that this is a really good team with a really good defense and, with half the wind, we'll be able to put some things together. I'm feeling it now, so I need to get to this prediction before the wind shifts.
Tommy has a solid game, the defense finds its groove, and Illinois wins. Not the complete blowout I'd see if it was 75 degrees and calm, but a big win nonetheless.
Illinois 31, Purdue 10