As the 2016 college football season draws closer, we'll be taking a look at the historical record of Big Ten programs and how they stack up compared to the Illini to help you get through the final month before the season kicks off.
First up: the Purdue Boilermakers.
When looking at these two programs, it's astonishing how close these two teams are even after over 100 years of games. In its history, Purdue has only one more overall win than Illinois -- holding a 598-597 advantage, although Illinois has closed that gap in recent years. That's insane. All of the more reason why Boilermaker head man Darrell Hazell enters 2016 on the hot seat. The Boilers have been to 17 bowl games, with nine victories, while the Illini have made 18 appearances in the postseason, with the most recent being the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas bowl in 2014. As for conference titles, Illinois also holds a 15-12 advantage over Purdue.
When these teams square off on the gridiron, the indispensable Purdue Cannon in on the line. The lore behind this trophy dates back to 1905, when Purdue students brought a cannon to Champaign in anticipation of firing it off after a Boilermaker victory (which was a pretty bold statement, seeing as Illinois held a 5-game winning streak against Purdue). These Purdue fans must have been overcompensating for "firepower" because their team's offense hadn't scored more than six points against Illinois in over a decade. Purdue won the battle on the field, but crafty Illinois won the war by stealing the cannon and hiding it in a farmhouse for over 30 years. It was introduced as a rivalry game trophy in 1943.
Illinois leads the all-time series 44-41-6, although Purdue has won eight of the past 11 meetings between the two squads. The Illini put a hurting on the Boilers in West Lafayette last season, cruising to a 48-14 victory. The year prior, Purdue earned its first Big Ten victory under Hazell with a 38-27 victory in Champaign (sigh). The Illini have had more wins than the Boilermakers in each of the past three seasons, as Hazell has just six wins in his three-year career at Purdue.
Purdue will once again project to be near the bottom of the conference, but returns its quarterback in David Blough, along with sophomore Markell Jones and five of the top six targeted receivers. This figures to be a make-or-break season for Hazell, although the lame duck regime of athletic director Morgan Burke casts uncertainty over the entire program.