Opportunity looms for Purdue in matchup at Maryland

The pillow fight is on in the Big Ten West, where every team has at least one conference loss, no team is ranked and identifying a frontrunner is risky business.Amid this morass of mediocrity, why not Purdue? The Boilermakers visit Maryland at College Park on Saturday, where they will try to distinguish themselves in a division that’s up for grabs.While Maryland (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) is a member of the Big Ten East, beating the Terappins would be a quality win. Maryland threw a scare into Michigan two weeks ago in a 34-27 loss and then handled Michigan State 27-13 last weekend.Meanwhile Purdue (3-2, 1-1) helped throw the Big Ten West race into a tizzy with a 20-10 upset of then-No. 21 Minnesota. The result left six of the division’s seven teams tied for first place.”It’s not like we’ve done anything special,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “There’s a long way to go. We’re not going to look down the road ever. That’s a no-no for us.”Purdue last won a Big Ten title in 2000, doing it as a co-champion under Joe Tiller. The Boilermakers’ last outright title came in 1929. But this year in a balanced division, Purdue can think big, if only it dared to.With quarterback Aidan O’Connell missing one game with an injury and nursing the ailment last week at Minnesota, Purdue has discovered a running attack.In the last two weeks, former walk-on backs Devin Mockobee (112 vs. Minnesota) and Dylan Dunning (113 against Florida Atlantic) each have impressed. It was a welcome departure from a 35-31 loss to Penn State in the season opener when Purdue showed little rushing prowess and O’Connell threw 59 times.