Football Preview: Week 9 vs Purdue
By Pat Timlin
Last year, Northwestern opened up the season in West Lafayette with a memorable first half. Three different ‘Cats players scored, it appeared as though Justin Jackson’s heir was Jeremy Larkin, and Clayton Thorson looked sharp in leading the ‘Cats to a 31-point opening period. The second half- a contrary story. Northwestern couldn’t find the endzone and managed to squander the last seven minutes on the game clock to walk away with a one-score victory.
This year, Coach Fitz and crew will play Purdue on the tail end of an Indiana-Institution back-to-back. Northwestern will be looking to take advantage of a weaker November schedule to make a push towards a Big Ten West title.
Let’s see how these two teams match up:
Northwestern Defense vs. Purdue Offense
Despite a tradition of great quarterbacks coming out of Purdue, the most electrifying player the Boilers possess is sophomore WR Rondale Moore. Recently picked to win the Heisman by Desmond Howard, Moore became the first Big Ten true freshman to be a consensus All-American, posting 14 total touchdowns and 2,215 all-purpose yards (good for third in FBS). After gaining 313 all-purpose yards against the ‘Cats last year, headlined by a 79 yard touchdown run, Moore will likely be covered mainly by fifth-year Trae Williams. Williams brings an outstanding amount of experience to the table but will likely need help from the entire defense as Moore is used in several different packages to fully capture his true talents.
The man tossing the ball to Moore is fifth year co-captain Elijah Sindelar. The Northwestern defense presumably ended his season last year by forcing three first-half turnovers and Sindelar failed to start another game, losing the starting job to David Blough. This season will be his last in college and he hopes to gain control of what has been a roller coaster career. He plays as a prototypical B1G Ten quarterback, mainly a pocket passer but without much ability to make plays with his legs. Playing against less mobile quarterbacks opens up the Wildcat pass rush to pin its ears back and run wild.
Northwestern Offense vs. Purdue Defense
The last time the Boilermakers took the field, they took a 63-point thumping from the Auburn Tigers. To end the season on that note can’t leave a good taste in your mouth. This defense is coming back hungry and and it starts with their defensive line. That defensive front possesses a great mix of experience in NT Lorenzo Neal (coming back from an ACL tear and should be back for this late season matchup) and young talent in former #73 recruit in ESPN top 300 George Karlaftis. This Northwestern offensive line has plenty of question marks and this is Purdue front is not a group that will be kind to whomever is slinging the ball for the ‘Cats.
For Northwestern, the key is to exploit the weak rushing defense that Purdue displayed all last year. Jeff Brohm’s defense allowed their opponents at least 20 points in each of its last 7 games, along with multiple rushing touchdowns in each of those games. Look for Isaiah Bowser to exploit the run game in Evanston, a place he found favor with in his first year at the position.
This game turns out to be a snoozer. An 11:00am start in Evanston is the scariest place in college sports and both teams stumble out of the gate. Bowser rushes for 2 touchdowns, 120+ yards while on the other side Rondale Moore is the only source of offense for a dismal Purdue effort.
Final: Northwestern 17 – Purdue 13