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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue is coming off its most productive offensive performance under Darrell Hazell, getting the second-year coach his first Big Ten victory after nine straight losses.
The Boilermakers (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) had 551 yards — including 349 rushing — in a 38-27 win over Illinois last Saturday. This week, they'll take a step up in competition when they host No. 8 Michigan State (4-1, 1-0).
Purdue knows it can't revert to its good-game, bad-game trend. After opening the season with a convincing victory against Western Michigan, the Boilermakers followed it with a 38-17 loss to Central Michigan. Then after defeating Southern Illinois 35-13, Purdue failed to score an offensive touchdown in a 24-10 home loss to Iowa.
"It's very important to show your team where their shortcomings were in those (defeats)," Hazell said Tuesday. "If they can see that — you educate them there — that helps them understand the areas that need improvement. Our team is a very educated team right now. They are smart, and they are learning. They only are going to get better because of the education process."
With a young team, inconsistency is not surprising, but entering the seventh game of the season, Hazell says it's time to start stringing good games together. He noted that Michigan State will present a challenge for a Purdue offense that ranks 13th of 14 Big Ten teams at 351.8 yards per game.
"In the landscape of college football Saturday after Saturday, each game is a new challenge, but I assure you our team will be ready to play this Saturday," he said.
The 38-point performance at Illinois, according to Hazell, could be a springboard for solving the Boilermakers' inconsistency.
"It's the energy on the sideline when the defense makes a play or the offensive makes a play," Hazell said. "That creates so much support across the ball. That's the thing that becomes very evident when you start to do those kinds of positive things. That is where you keep building, even on special teams. Moving forward, the thing I went to see is continued improvement."
Sophomore offensive right guard Jordan Roos agrees that it is time for the Boilermakers to play multiple games in a row with consistent effort.
"We've talked already this week in our offensive line meeting that thus far, this team has been on a roller-coaster," Roos said. "We have to put back-to-back good performances together. We have to approach every week with a new mentality."
Purdue has not won consecutive Big Ten games since November 2012.
"Any time you get a victory like we got on the road at Illinois with team evenly matched teams playing, there are certain validations that you get out of that," Hazell said when asked about the significance of last Saturday's victory. "Our guys came in on Sunday and were so upbeat. We ran on Sunday night just to flush the body a little bit. The whole mood is so different when you get a win like that."