After two-straight top 10 losses, Northwestern gets a breather as they head to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers. The ‘Cats need two wins over their next three to clinch their second consecutive bowl berth and a win against the Boilermakers should help get the Wildcats back on track. WNUR Sports will have the call as part of WNUR’s Sportsathon, with the pregame show at 10:00 CST, followed by opening kick at 11:00.
Here’s how our broadcasters think the ‘Cats will fare against the Boilermakers:
Matt McHugh (@mattmcsports27) Northwestern 31, Purdue 17
After two straight losses, the ‘Cats have a prime opportunity to rebound against a struggling Purdue team. The offense should get back on track, and the defense should be able to do enough to keep the ‘Cats with a comfortable lead all game.
Player to Watch: DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue. Yancey is one of the better receivers in the Big Ten, and the ‘Cats struggled to contain top-receiver Jazz Peavy last week. The secondary’s struggles are well-documented, and they should have a challenging test this week.
Adam Braunstein (@braunstein_adam): Northwestern 17, Purdue 10
Expect Northwestern’s offense to struggle for the 2nd straight week, but for the defense to step up and lead the ‘Cats to a victory.
Player to Watch: Joe Gaziano, DE, Northwestern. Gaziano has become a bigger part of the defense recently, and continue to do so this week.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Northwestern 41, Purdue 16
Purdue’s defense is among the worst in the FBS, allowing almost 6.5 yards per play, while their offense isn’t much better, with 23 turnovers lost. This should be a game where Northwestern’s offense gets going and the ‘Cats put away the Boilermakers early. If Justin Jackson gets going, watch out, the ‘Cats might hit 50 again.
Player to Watch: Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern. Odds are, whether or not Igwebuike tweets “Thanks for the INT” this weekend, someone on the ‘Cats defense will find themselves with one with Purdue -14 in turnover margin, and Godwin is the most likely.
Ryan Fish (@ryanmfish): Northwestern 34, Purdue 23
The pesky Boilermakers were leading or tied at halftime in their past three games, only to fall apart in the second half each time. With a defense that has surrendered 400+ yards in every conference game so far, that isn’t too surprising. Northwestern shouldn’t have to work too hard for this one.
Player to watch: David Blough, QB, Purdue. Only three quarterbacks in the country have thrown more passes than Blough, and we assume be throwing a lot on Saturday against a banged-up Northwestern secondary. It might be a stretch to call Blough “accurate,” though; he’s thrown at least one pick in five straight games.
Austin Miller (@austinjames906): Purdue 23, Northwestern 14
And you thought last week was bad. Take it from this seasoned Wildcat fan: Just when you think it can’t get any more painful, it can. Welcome to Northwestern sports!!
Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern. Thorson had a rough go of it against the Badgers. While he made a nice throw on the TD, too often his efforts were off-target. If Jackson can’t get going again, the pressure is going to fall squarely on the sophomore’s shoulders.
Amit Mallik (@amitkmallik): Northwestern 24, Purdue 19
The ‘Cats grind out a tough mid-season victory behind a dominant run game, and a defense up to the task.
Player to watch: Brett Walsh, OLB, Northwestern. In a game where the Wildcats have an advantage on both sides of the ball, one of the only question marks is Walsh who is filling in for the injured Jaylen Prater. Walsh has impressed in his playing time this season and needs to carry over his production into a larger role.
Parker Johnson (@sportsbyparker): Northwestern 31, Purdue 13
The ‘Cats rebound from a poor performance against Wisconsin as Clayton Thorson throws for three touchdowns.
Players to Watch: The Northwestern offensive line. The weakest part of Northwestern’s performance last week was their offensive line. The O-line needs to find a way to carve out some holes for Justin Jackson if Northwestern’s passing offense is going to continue to thrive.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Northwestern 38, Purdue 21
Northwestern will run all over Purdue’s weak defense. Purdue’s passing attack, led by David Blough can put up a few points, but Northwestern wins easily.
Players to Watch: The entire Northwestern offensive line. Purdue’s run defense is near bottom in the country. It’s up to the Northwestern offensive line to capitalize on that with Justin Jackson behind them.
Roger Wu (@rogerwoo22): Northwestern 34, Purdue 17
Purdue has dropped four in a row, and allows 37.7 points per game to their opponents. Northwestern offense will not find it hard to score, as the connection between Thorson and Carr is still “on fire”. Expect Austin Carr to reach 150 yards again with at least a touchdown.
Player to Watch: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Jackson is going through a hard time, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry during the last three games. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back this week against a poor Purdue defense.
Ben Krieger: Northwestern 38, Purdue 21
Northwestern bounces back from a disheartening loss to Wisconsin and simply overpowers a suspect Boilermakers defense. Thorson keeps looking better and better as the skill position tandem of Austin Carr and Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier finds pay dirt multiple times.
Players to Watch: Solomon Vault and Flynn Nagel, WRs, Northwestern. I know this is two players but that’s because the Wildcats need one of them to step up and shoulder more of the load on offense in the coming weeks, and Saturday against Purdue is a good time to start.
Josh Burton (@josh_burton1): Northwestern 30, Purdue 10
Purdue is a really bad team, especially on defense, so Northwestern shouldn’t have too much trouble on Saturday. The Boilermakers have lost four straight games and out of their six conference games (with the only win coming against Illinois), Purdue has allowed at least 27 points in each one. Against a team that has given up an average of nearly 44 points per Big Ten contest, Northwestern’s offense should roll, especially through the air. I expect Austin Carr to have another huge game.
Player To Watch: David Blough, QB, Purdue. Blough is one of the only bright spots on a really bad Purdue team and has somehow cobbled together 20 touchdowns (with 13 interceptions) with a weak supporting cast. He can put up big numbers and is probably the Boilermakers’ best offensive player, so if there’s any chance for Northwestern to lose this game, it rests on Blough’s arm.