RENO, Nev. – Purdue pulled one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season when it stunned No. 2 Ohio State, 49-20. The Boilermakers, who return 13 starters including All-American wide receiver Rondale Moore from a squad that lost to Auburn, 63-14, in the Music City Bowl, open their season on Friday night at Nevada.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network LINE: Purdue -10
The electrifying Moore, who has been timed at 4.3 in the forty, produced a Purdue school record 2,215 all-purpose yards last season as a true freshman when he also caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he will have a new starting quarterback throwing to him in senior Elijah Sindelar who takes over for David Blough who passed for 3,705 yards and 25 touchdowns while being intercepted 10 times last season. Whether the Boilermakers can be a legitimate threat in the Big Ten's West Division, however, will depend on how much a defense that ranked 113th nationally in total yards allowed (452.6) and an even worse 128th in passing defense (284.7) can improve. "I think our defense has made strides," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm told jconline.com. "I'm looking forward to seeing them get on the field. Does that mean we're at where we need to be? No, we're not. I do think the ability to get to the pass rusher and create penetration and disruption is more visible."
ABOUT PURDUE (2018: 6-7)
The strong-armed 6-foot-4 Sindelar completed 26-of-44 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions last season. He'll be playing behind a young offensive line that returns two starters and will start a freshman and two sophomores. Senior Tario Fuller, expected to start at running back, will also miss the game with a fractured jaw.
ABOUT NEVADA (2018: 8-5)
Redshirt freshman Carson Strong won the starting quarterback job over highly touted one-time Florida State commit Malik Henry after expected senior starter Cristian Solano broke his hand in the second practice of fall camp. Strong, who did not play his senior year at Wood High in Vacaville, Calif. due to injury, saw action in just one game against Portland State in 2018 before being redshirted and had one rush for four yards. The Wolf Pack, who defeated Arkansas State, 16-13, in the Arizona Bowl last season, have one of the top running backs in the Mountain West Conference in sophomore Toa Taua (872 yards, six TDs).
1. Purdue was scheduled to leave for Reno on Wednesday night to adjust to the 4,500-foot altitude and time zone change.
2. Brohm, who coached the Boilermakers to three wins over ranked opponents, was rewarded with a new seven-year deal worth $36.8 million.
3. Purdue has 16 freshmen/redshirt freshmen listed on its two-deep.
PREDICTION: Purdue 35, Nevada 24