So, yeah, the model didn't work so well last week. We grossly underestimated Maryland's Heart Factor. While their Quit % reached a high of 89% in the 2nd quarter, their interception of a Connor Rhoda pass off the hands of Tyler Johnson at the three yard line immediately caused a ten-fold increase in Heart Factor to 12.2, a high for this season.
We were surprised at the Gophers lack of Heart Factor from the outset - it just didn't seem like they were ever in the game, consistently missing tackles and not getting lit on the sidelines nearly as much as in the previous three weeks. And when Maryland went ahead with 90 seconds to play and the Gophers failed to catch the ensuing kickoff, well, the Quitometer reached a Quit % of 100% and, uh, quit working. It was the worst of times.
At any rate, the crack data scientists at SGH have re-tooled the model and are ready to take a stab at guessing the outcome of this week's game: our beloved rodents against something called a Purdue.
A Purdue, best known for having a big drum and a former basketball coach whose comb over, fully extended, could have served as a space elevator to Europa, is the beneficiary of a special Heart Factor Multiplier this week, as they will be honoring the recent passing of their Man-God former coach, Joe Tiller. The death of a god is a difficult weight to bear, as myriad Greek- and Middle-Earth-based tragedies have shown. It can, however, serve as a beacon of hope: as Tiller transcended his mortal coil he took his place in the celestial plane as a new quark star, disrupting matter and spacetime beyond our ability to comprehend. The result was a uniform patch a Purdue will wear that gives them +1 in elusiveness and speed, +3 in tackling and spin move and a 30% chance for a cry on the sidelines with a roll of six or more. All substantial contributors to Heart Factor and mitigants on a Purdue's willingness to quit at any point during the game.
The Gophers, meanwhile, are in a bit of a morass. Losing to a meh Maryland team, at home, while double-digit favorites has probably left something of a Heart hangover. The memory of going full quitsies in the last 90 seconds of the game will be fresh in their minds. Will they respond with pluck and mettle by rowing and gROWing to meet the adversity? Or has their collective confidence been smashed by the fists of the angry, newly ascendant God Tiller, wreaking havoc upon a Purdue's opponents through the powers of the divine?
One thing potentially working in the Gophers' favor is they too will be honoring the God Tiller with a helmet sticker. It was not crafted in the same fires of dark sorcery as a Purdue's uniform patch though, which begat from the powerful and mysterious Forge of Stache. It just wasn't. Consequently, it will provide minimal benefit to our favorite team. Our spin moves and elusiveness will remain at standard settings, with a 100% chance to cry on the sidelines with any roll in the event of a Harboring.
I still like the Gophers to win, but it's going to be an uncomfortable game. A Purdue has looked pretty decent, especially against Missouri and for three quarters against Michigan; but that inspirational close loss against Louisville to start the season is looking less inspirational with every week. To some extent, this is a battle of paper tigers: two teams that pretty handily won the games they should and shat the bed against teams the may have been able to beat.
I think the Gophers have the talent advantage, but will be tested in the secondary with TWANZO both out. All of the intangibles seem to point in a Purude's direction: playing at home, God Tiller, recent Heart Factor and Quit %, uniform patch. Last week was a lesson to both our coaches and players though and, being the eternal optimist I now am, we pull this one out and get to be happy for the week prior to our night game against Sparty.
Heart Factor: Gophers 4.7 v. a Purdue 6.9
Quit %: Gophers 50% v. a Purdue 38%
Score prediction: Gophers 24 v. a Purdue 21