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2015 MAC non-conference previews: Purdue Boilermakers

Depending on which Purdue Bowling Green gets, the Falcons could either walk away with a 30-point win or a 20-point loss.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Darrell Hazell and Purdue have had their down times. A lot of them. In Purdue's first year under the former Kent State coach, things were so bad that the 1-11 season was among the worst in Purdue football history.

Even with all the problems in that first season, Purdue showed loads of improvement in season two. Although the Boilers only finished 3-9, they showed a legitimate ability to put points on the scoreboard. Purdue scored an abysmal 179 points in 2013, but by the time Big Ten play reached full swing in 2014, the Boilers had already scored 109 points.

The Boilers fell flat late in 2014 however, and did not reach more than 16 points in any of their last four games, which included a match up with archrival Indiana.

Austin Appleby will likely return as Purdue's 2015 starter, although the up-and-coming David Blough looks to grab some playing time this season. When healthy, the Boilermakers had the ability to put up points at a good pace, but also struggled in several other games. Examples of offensive explosions include Purdue's 43-34 victory over Western Michigan in week one, a 38-point showing against an Illinois team that turned out to be pretty decent and a 39-38 road loss to Minnesota which seemed to tear the heart out of Purdue's chances of reaching a bowl game.

Running back provides some sense of mystery for the Boilermakers. Last season, Akeem Hunt and Raheem Mostert, two speedy backs who liked to use the width of the field, split time behind the quarterback. This season, Purdue switches to a guy who usually served as a combination of a full back and a third-down back in Keyante Green, who rushed for 199 yards on 22 carries last season because of his ability to surprise the defense by getting the ball when Hunt or Mostert were also in the backfield.

Outside of the 5'9'', 219 pound Green, things are bleak at running back. No other backs have any playing time, and it's anyone's guess to who replaces Green when he needs a rest. David Yancey is a good guess though, as Hazell will want to show off one of his prized recruits early and often.

The wide out corps is led by Danny Anthrop, a home town kid who has emerged to take on bigger and bigger roles in his three years with the Boilers.

Defense is where the tables turn, as Purdue often gave up huge amounts of points to less-than-stellar opponents. Although the defense was injury ridden all year, if 2014 trends continue, Dino Babers and Bowling Green might be able to score 50 on Purdue.

Frankie Williams arguably leads the group from the cornerback position, although injuries a year ago forced him to play safety at times. Purdue's defense gave up 38 to Central Michigan, 39 to Minnesota and 38 to Northwestern. Overall, Purdue gave up 30 or more points eight times a season ago.

The defense did have bright spots, however. The Boilers held Notre Dame to single digits for much of the first half, and they held Indiana to just 23 points in a 23-16 loss in the Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.

Special teams is led by kicker Paul Griggs, who has add his ups and downs at Purdue. In 2013 he went six-for-twelve, but improved to 16/20 a year ago. Anthrop will likely return kicks and punts for the Boilers.

Overall, Bowling Green is in a good position to use their speed and athleticism to beat Purdue, who struggled to deal with MAC teams Western Michigan and Central Michigan a year ago.