Purdue, Indiana Vie For Old Oaken Bucket; Irish Seek 10th Win

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Indiana is hoping the third time’s the charm in two instances for Saturday’s annual grudge match at Purdue: The Hoosiers are getting their third crack at a first eight-win season since 1993 and looking to avoid losing a third straight game to the Boilermakers to reclaim the Old Oaken Bucket.

Indiana (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten East) is a seven-point favorite with the DraftKings and BetRivers sportsbooks, while FanDuel has the Hoosiers as 6.5-point favorites. FanDuel also has Indiana as a -240 moneyline favorite compared to -260 at DraftKings and BetRivers, while the latter two sportsbooks have Purdue at +210 compared to FanDuel’s +190 for a straight-up victory.

All three are offering an over/under of 55 points at -110 in either direction.

The Hoosiers need a win to ensure themselves of a fourth-place finish in the East Division and potentially move up the pecking order of the Big Ten’s bowl tie-ins. All four of Indiana’s losses have come to ranked opponents, including back-to-back defeats following a 39-14 setback at home to then-No. 12 Michigan last Saturday.

Purdue (4-7, 3-5 West) is playing for state bragging rights and to keep the Old Oaken Bucket in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers’ late-season push to become bowl eligible ended with a resounding thud last Saturday in Wisconsin, where they were gashed for 403 rushing yards in a 45-24 romp by the previously 14th-ranked Badgers.

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That lack of a run defense — Purdue is giving up 193.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 100th among FBS schools — is the most enticing reason to lay the points and take Indiana. That is especially true if you can grab FanDuel’s low-side hook at -6.5 points. Though the Hoosiers have struggled against the nation’s better teams, they have taken care of business against lesser opponents. Indiana has averaged 162 rushing yards in its seven wins compared to 75 in its four losses, and Stevie Scott rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown in last season’s 28-21 loss to Purdue.

The over should be considered provided the number stays below the flat touchdown total of 56, though the forecast does call for rain. The over has hit in the last five games between the teams played at Purdue, with all five games piling up 55 or more points. The over has also delivered in Indiana’s last four road games and posted a 7-1 record in Purdue’s last eight at home against teams with winning road records.

Lastly, the over for Indiana’s team total of 30.5 points at -115 on FanDuel is worth a play. The Boilermakers have given up 34 or more points on five occasions while the Hoosiers have averaged 37.9 in their seven wins versus unranked opponents.

Purdue holds a 74-41-6 lead in the all-time series that dates back to 1891.

Irish make final case to play in New Year’s Day bowl game

Notre Dame (9-2) has a chance to record three consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since Lou Holtz stalked the sidelines from 1991-93 and is angling for a New Year’s Day bowl appearance. The Fighting Irish enter their Saturday showdown at Stanford as 16.5-point favorites at all three sports books, with FanDuel offering the best money line odds at -800 compared to DraftKings and BetRivers at -910.

DK and Rivers are offering a slightly higher over/under at 50 points compared to FD (49), with the number coming off its opening of 52 after Stanford coach David Shaw confirmed quarterback K.J. Costello will miss his third straight game with a thumb injury.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, has won four straight games and closed its home schedule in style with a 40-7 rout of Boston College last Saturday. Ian Book threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns as Notre Dame scored 34 unanswered points and finished with 501 total yards. Book is 97 yards shy of topping his total for last season (2,628), and his next touchdown pass will make him the first Irish quarterback with 30 in a season since Brady Quinn had 37 in 2006.

Stanford (4-7) will miss out on bowl season for the first time in Shaw’s nine seasons in charge and for the first time since going 5-7 in 2008. The Cardinal are trying to avoid a fourth straight defeat after a 24-20 loss to archrival Cal last Saturday, allowing a pair of touchdowns in the final 7:44.

Despite failing to win in five previous trips to Stanford under Kelly, the Irish should have enough to end that streak and cover in this contest. The Cardinal have struggled all season against top-tier quarterbacks, ranking 118th against in passing yards defensively (281.7) and tied for 108th with 23 TDs given up through the air.

Book had four TD passes and 278 yards in last year’s 38-17 victory as Notre Dame regained possession of the Legends Trophy. The Irish should also go over their team total of 32.5 points (-115), having averaged 43.3 points and 460 yards in their last three games.

Notre Dame is 4-1 against the spread in its last five games against sub-.500 teams and 5-1-1 versus the number on the road in its last seven contests against opponents with losing home records. The Cardinal have covered just twice in their last 10 games overall and are 1-5 against the spread in their last six contests when coming off a straight-up loss.

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Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has been a sportswriter with ESPN, The Associated Press, and STATS over more than two decades. He recently expanded into covering sports betting and gambling around the Midwest.

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