The Wildcats look for their eighth win of the season on senior day against Purdue. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 AM, and you can watch on BTN or listen to our call on WNUR 89.3 FM in Evanston and Chicago.
Here are our broadcasters’ predictions:
Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Northwestern 27, Purdue 17
The Boilermakers will give NU a mild scare, but Justin Jackson will carry the ‘Cats to their third straight victory with another 100-yard game on the ground.
Player to watch: Nate Hall, LB, Northwestern. If Jaylen Prater hasn’t recovered from his injury in last week’s win, the redshirt freshman should get the start at outside linebacker.
Tim Balk (@timbalk): Northwestern 27, Purdue 14
Purdue’s not bad. They are terrible. NU Men’s Basketball is more likely to lose than the football team this weekend.
Player to watch: Jelani Roberts, WR, Northwestern: Purdue’s front seven is not good and NU should roll up big yardage. It’d be nice to see this speedy freshmen get into the action, either on one of the jet sweeps NU has been running for him or through the air, where he caught three passes against Penn State.
Zach Pereles (@zach_pereles): Northwestern 30, Purdue 10
Purdue is just not good. Their defense has some decent guys, their true freshman running back Markell Jones is great and… that’s about it. This one shouldn’t be close and it won’t be.
Player to Watch: Markell Jones, RB, Purdue. He’s been the lone bright spot for what is, overall, a team severely lacking talent. If Jones can move the chains and keep Purdue’s defense off the field, that’ll help them a lot.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Northwestern 34, Purdue 13
If Clayton Thorson plays, and is relatively close to 100 percent, the ‘Cats shouldn’t have to much trouble with Purdue. But if it’s Zack Oliver lining up under center for the Wildcats, Northwestern could keep the Boilermakers a little too close for comfort. Either way, the Northwestern defense is too good to give up enough points for Purdue to come away from Ryan Field with a W.
Player to Watch: Deonte Gibson, DE, Northwestern. It’s senior day at Ryan Field, so I’m picking a senior to have a big impact, and who better than Gibson, who ranks No. 7 in NU history in sacks. Gibson should have a field day against the Boilermakers who are No. 83 in the country in sacks allowed with 2.33 per game.
Ari Levin: Northwestern 35, Purdue 3
Northwestern is altogether a much more skilled team than Purdue, and should have an easy time putting them away at home. A big win here could gain some momentum for Northwestern as they finish out the season in the next few weeks.
Player to watch: Clayton Thorson, Northwestern QB
Thorson was knocked out of last week’s game in the first quarter, but appears to be ready to start against the Boilermakers. It should be interesting to see how shaken up Thorson still is, and how he continues to develop over the season.
Ryan Fish (@RyanMFish): Northwestern 31, Purdue 17
I don’t see this as another blowout, as the ‘Cats may be looking ahead to Wisconsin after the big win over Penn State. In case you were not aware, however, Purdue is bad at football.
Player to watch: Mike McHugh, WR, Northwestern. McHugh recently overtook Cameron Dickerson for a starting role at X-receiver on Northwestern’s two-deep. The Wildcats’ wide receivers have struggled and performed inconsistently for much of the year. Let’s see if McHugh continues that trend against an inferior defense, or steps up in a starting role.
Purdue is real bad, but they’re good enough to keep this one close for three quarters. The ‘Cats will pull away late and avoid a train wreck.
Player to watch: Paul Griggs, K, Purdue. In what promises to be a pretty straightforward, predictable game, it’s important to look for the fun peculiarities that make college football so great. Purdue kicker Paul Griggs hasn’t attempted a field goal since late September in a loss to Bowling Green. Let’s hope the senior can get on the board this Saturday.
Max Gelman (@MaxGelman) Purdue 24, Northwestern 23:
The Wildcats lay a goose egg on Ryan Field and lose to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. NU sees their NY6 hopes dashed in typical Northwestern fashion.
Player to watch: Purdue Band. With one of the largest marching bands in the country, the Boilermakers have three times as many drummers, flutists and tuba players as the football team has athletes. On Senior Day, the Wildcats will be giving some time to this band at halftime much like last year’s Wisconsin game.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Northwestern 31, Purdue 10
If Saturday’s re-emergence of Justin Jackson continues and Clayton Thorson’s health isn’t a concern, Northwestern should roll over lowly Purdue.
Player to watch: Northwestern’s offensive line. A huge component of Jackson’s success was due to the offensive line having a solid game. If that continues, watch out.
It’ll be tough, but the Wildcats will do what they’ve done all season: make the big plays and find a way to win. A bigger story line for Northwestern: Clayton Thorson and Jaylen Prater left last week’s game with injuries, and the Wildcats need both players close to full strength ahead of next weekend’s trip to Madison.
Player to watch: Ian Park, Center, Northwestern: Park left last week’s game early with an injury. He’s another player Northwestern needs healthy at season’s end. He did a nice job blocking Penn State’s talented defensive line before his injury, and the Wildcats need him to pick up where he left off against the Boilermakers.