WEST LAFAYETTE — Syracuse coach Dino Babers put the program back in the national conversation with a 5-0 start last season.
Now Babers and the Orange are on the cusp of an even more significant milestone — the school's first back-to-back 3-0 starts since 1959 and 1960 when the late Ernie Davis was starring.
Getting there won't be easy, though. Purdue overcame a 5 1/2-hour rain delay last weekend at Virginia Tech to give new Purdue coach Ryan Walters his first career win. Walters hasn't won at home yet and getting a victory in primetime, in front of a sellout crowd would be a welcome sight.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Syracuse coach Dino Babers got the program back in the national conversation with last season's 5-0 start. Five straight losses followed. Now Babers and the Orange are on the cusp of an even more significant milestone — its first back-to-back 3-0 starts since 1959 and 1960 when the late Ernie Davis starred. New Purdue coach Ryan Walters got his first win last week but hasn't yet won at home. If he does, it would add another chapter to the Boilermakers magical prime-time tradition.
Syracuse RB LeQuint Allen vs. Purdue's run defense. Allen only has three career starts but already has made an impact. He's topped the 100-yard mark twice in those starts, scored three TDs on eight carries in the other and last year became the first Syracuse player since 1989 to produced a TD run, a TD catch and a TD pass in the same season. What else? His 11 catches in last season's bowl game broke Marvin Harrison's previous postseason school mark (seven). Purdue has allowed just 60.0 yards rushing per game this season and gave up only 11 yards last week at Virginia Tech.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Syracuse: QB Garrett Shrader and TE Oronde Gadsden II. These names should sound familiar to Purdue fans — they hooked up for the winning TD with 7 seconds left in last season's game. Shrader is the best dual-threat quarterback Purdue has faced so far, and he's one of five active FBS players with more than 5,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing. Gadsden was Syracuse's top receiver last season but it's unclear if he'll play after leaving last week's game with a lower right leg injury.
Purdue: RB Devin Mockobee. It only took one season for the walk-on to earn his scholarship and solidify his role as the Boilermakers workhorse back. Last week, Walters helped Mockobee reclaim his title with 21 carries, 95 yards and one TD. Expect more of the same this week against a defense facing its first power-five opponent this season.
FACTS & FIGURES
The home team has won both of the previous meetings. ... Syracuse's 113 points through two weeks ranks fourth in school history. This year marks the first time since 1933 the Orange have opened a season with back-to-back winning margins of 40-plus points. ... Purdue is playing its second straight ACC foe and is one of only five power-five programs to face non-conference power-five opponents in consecutive weeks this season. ... Syracuse has the FBS' stingiest scoring defense (3.5 points) after finishing 20th in total defense last season. ... The Boilermakers are one of two Big Ten teams and nine FBS teams with no turnovers. ... Ten receivers have caught passes in each of the Orange's first two games. ... Purdue will have its first sellout in the newly renovated Ross-Ade Stadium, which is hosting its 100th season of football. ... This is Syracuse's only road trip in its first five games. ... The Boilermakers play their next three games at home.