Wednesday, November 4, 2015

From the MAC to the Big Ten: Cubit and Hazell meet again Saturday

                                         Photo Credit: Damon Warren

Illinois interim coach Bill Cubit and Purdue coach Darrell Hazell have a bit more in common than what the average fan might think.

Yes, the Fighting Illini and the Boilermakers renew their battle for the Purdue Cannon at Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday, but this will be the second meeting for Cubit and Hazell as opposing coaches.

The first meeting between the two took place in the Mid-American Conference on Oct. 20, 2012, when Hazell's Kent State Golden Flashes knocked off Cubit's Western Michigan Broncos, 41-24.

Hazell's win propelled Kent State to an 11-3 record overall and an 8-0 mark in MAC East play, which was used as a springboard the next season to land him the current gig as Purdue's coach.

Having a 5-27 mark through two-plus seasons has put Hazell on the hot seat, but a 55-45 upset of divisional foe Nebraska on Oct. 31 could be the turning point in gaining much-needed momentum in terms of job security going into 2016.

Even with the pressure of winning, Hazell believes in treating each game as its own challenge.
"I think it helps for sure and it makes you prepare much harder, but one week to the next week is its own entity and we got to make sure we do everything we can just a little bit better than we did in preparation going into this game as we did in previous games," Hazell said in Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference.

The trends have begun to dip for the Illini with two straight losses in conference play to Wisconsin and Penn State, but Hazell sees things from a different perspective.

"They are a good team," Hazell said. "I don't know if the last game against [Penn State] was indicative of how good they are. You go back and study the Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska games and they have played really good defense and we have to be ready to go when [Illinois] comes in here Saturday."

Cubit does not concern himself with the interim tag being removed, but more with getting Illinois prepared after losing last season's meeting to Purdue, 38-27 in Champaign, Ill.

"My biggest thing is getting our kids right because we are really banged up right now," Cubit said. "We have to get our kids better with rest, sleep and attrition and it is never-ending."

Game Planner:

Illinois (4-4, 1-3 Big Ten West) at Purdue (2-6, 1-3 Big Ten West)

Location: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.

Time: Saturday, Noon ET

TV/Online: BTN/BTN2Go

Line: Illinois (-2)

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.