Purdue In Pursuit Of Five-Win Season

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – There will be no postseason bowl for Purdue. Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin eliminated those hopes earlier this month, handing the Boilermakers their seventh loss.
Now, coming off a bye week, Purdue (3-7) will play Northwestern on Saturday and then finish the 2014 season on Nov. 29 at Indiana. The Boilermakers are looking to finish 5-7, which would be a four-victory improvement over 2013 — a 1-11 showing in the first year under coach Darrell Hazell.
Senior running back Raheem Mostert said he realizes what two season-ending victories would mean to Hazell’s recruiting efforts and for enthusiasm among the fan base moving into 2015.
“To get to five wins would mean a lot because last year was a big letdown,” Mostert said. “A springboard into the future would be really helpful. We want to provide that security that will help for next year and then for years to come. This is a tradition that is growing. We all sense it, and we all feel it. My career is coming to an end, but we can at least help the program rebuild and then keep building.”
For Hazell, 4-18 in his second year at Purdue, it’s about making strides against Northwestern (4-6) and Indiana (3-7).
“It’s always about improvement,” Hazell said. “We talk about that all of the time. We have improved … improved immensely. We know where we need to be, but we certainly are on an upward trend.”
Since beating Illinois in Champaign on Oct. 4, Purdue has had to cope with the most difficult portion of its season: No. 10 Michigan State, improved Minnesota, No. 21 Nebraska and No. 14 Wisconsin.
The Boilermakers lost those four games by a collective 153-99 score, an average margin of defeat of 13.5 points to teams with a combined record of 31-9. Those scores are an improvement from 2013, but a loss is a loss, no matter the margin.
“This game against Northwestern is such a big game for us for so many different reasons,” Hazell said. “But Northwestern has done a great job in big games.”
The Wildcats have won at Penn State and at Notre Dame and stunned Wisconsin in Evanston, Ill.
“If you watched the Notre Dame game, they continued to fight, no matter what the situation was,” Hazell said. “Quite a few times, you thought the game might be over, but Northwestern never gave up. They found ways to make plays.”
Purdue is 0-7 in Big Ten home games during Hazell’s two seasons and has beaten only Indiana State, Western Michigan and Southern Illinois in Ross-Ade Stadium since he replaced Danny Hope after the 2012 season.

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