There should be more familiarity than usual between Illinois and Purdue when the teams meet for a Big Ten contest on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
First-year Purdue head coach Ryan Walters was hired to head the Boilermakers program after working as the defensive coordinator under Illinois head coach Bret Bielema.
“There is still a lot of familiarity,” Walters said. “Like, I can tell what I’m seeing on tape, and obviously I got to go against (Illinois offensive coordinator Barry) Lunney every day in practice for a spring and a fall. So there are similarities there, and also a lot of new faces in that program as well that I wasn’t there for.”
Purdue (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) has lost all three of its home games so far this year.
The Boilermakers are coming off a 38-17 loss to Wisconsin last Friday. Hudson Card went 21-for-38 passing for 202 yards and threw two interceptions for Purdue.
Defense has been the biggest problem for Purdue, which has given up more than 35 points in each of its defeats.
Illinois (2-2, 0-1) is coming off a 23-17 home win last week over Florida Atlantic.
The Fighting Illini have some payback on their minds, given a home loss to Purdue last year cost Illinois a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
The win over Florida Atlantic might have been a good step forward for starting quarterback Luke Altmyer, who threw for 303 yards and a touchdown after struggling the first three games of the season.
Overall, Bielema said he likes the position his team is in as it faces its first Big Ten West opponent.
“I think we got a lot of depth,” Bielema said. “I don’t know if anything’s going to be pretty, but this group is going to play tough and gritty football.”
Purdue has dominated the series between the teams of late. The Boilermakers have won three in a row, six of the last seven and nine of the last 12 games over the Fighting Illini.