Purdue is fresh off a minor upset over Iowa. Illinois is reeling from a 45-7 drubbing at Wisconsin.
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm made it clear the Boilermakers are taking nothing for granted when the two teams meet on Saturday.
Lovie Smith’s Illini beat Purdue 24-6 last year, ending a three-game skid to the Boilermakers in a series that dates to 1890. But Illinois did not look good against the Badgers in its opener a day before Purdue edged Iowa 24-20.
Smith said Illinois has shown no COVID-19 positive tests despite several Wisconsin team members testing positive for the virus in the in the aftermath of the Illinois game. The Badgers have since canceled Saturday’s game at Nebraska.
Illinois has not regularly publicly released COVID-19 testing numbers.
Purdue QB Aiden O’Connell threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions against Iowa.
Two Illini quarterbacks, starter Brandon Peters and backup Isaiah Williams, managed to go only 8 of 22 passing for 87 yards. Peters gained 75 yards rushing on scrambles and designed runs, but overall the offense was only able to manage eight first downs.
Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen left last week’s game in the first half with an apparent head injury and was replaced by Tarique Barnes, who received his first significant playing time. Barnes had a team-high 11 tackles (seven solo), a sack, and a 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
It’s unclear whether Hansen will be available for Saturday’s game. Last year, Hansen led the nation in forced fumbles. He had 72 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and one interception. Despite Barnes’ performance last week, losing Hansen would be a major blow to Illinois.
Illinois has won 23 consecutive home openers dating to 1997. It’s the fourth-longest active streak in the nation behind only Florida (31), Oklahoma State (25) and Wisconsin (25).