Jeff Brohm had one of the hottest seats of any Power Five coach approaching this season, but it has completely cooled off through six games.
The main reason why is because Purdue has been the biggest surprise in the Big Ten this fall. After all, Brohm has fielded one of the best defenses in the country, and the unit’s success has led to the Boilermakers surfacing in the AP Poll for the first time since September of 2007.
The 25th-ranked Boilermakers are riding a big wave of momentum after their victory at Kinnick Stadium Saturday. It was the second time under Brohm that Purdue beat the No. 2 team in the nation. Brohm has played musical chairs with his quarterbacks, but Aidan O’Connell has had the hot arm with for 746 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception over the past two games.
He threw for a season-high against the Hawkeyes vaunted defense and carved up their ballhawking secondary like a turkey on Thanksgiving. Wide receiver Bell has been the go-to target of the offense and he has four 100-yard receiving games this season. Bell hauled in 11 passes, for a jaw-dropping, 240 yards and a touchdown at Iowa. Not to mention he averaged nearly 22 yards per catch.
Purdue’s defense has made the biggest impact in 2021. The unit had a statement performance against the Hawkeyes. The Boilermakers picked off Spencer Petras four times, plus the defense tallied four sacks. None of that should come as shocker to Big Ten fanatics. Purdue (4-2) ranks second in the league in scoring and total defense.
The success starts up front with the defensive line. Edge rusher George Karlaftis is back in his All-Big Ten form and has 2.5 sacks over the past three games. Defensive tackle Branson Deen has been a terror in the interior, with a sack against UConn, Notre Dame and and Iowa. Linebacker Jaylan Alexander leads the team, with 37 tackles. Safety Cam Allen had two interceptions against Iowa and another in the win over Oregon State.
Now the team is trending up at the right time, considering a daunting schedule looms. Wisconsin has the best defense in the conference. Nebraska will be coming off a bye-week. Ohio State will be out for some payback after the whipping in 2017 and Michigan State in the No. 9 team in the nation.
That’s a tall mountain for Brohm’s squad to climb, but they have a defense that can keep them in every contest. Even the Big Ten West is up for grabs after the Hawkeyes’ loss. The fact that Brohm has the Boilermakers finally ranked in his fifth year on the job, makes his journey more appreciative. Nothing has happened overnight though. The program was basically left for dead in the West over the past three seasons.
It has been a process for Brohm, but he’s making himself a candidate for the Big Ten Coach of the Year if Purdue continues winning. Brohm has offensive mind. Bell is performing like he want the Biletnikoff. The defense is suffocating. That’s a great recipe for success in the Big Ten and the sky’s the limit on what the Boilermakers can accomplish.