#19 Purdue at Northwestern: Wrigley Field Game Preview

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The Northwestern Wildcats will host the #19 Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday at the historic Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Unlike the first, and only previous time that the Wildcats played at the venue, this game will utilize both end zones.

It won’t be a both teams drive the same way, and the “losers walk” kind of thing. Both teams will be on the same sideline however. This contest could also serve as kind of a dry run for other Wrigley Field football to come, maybe.

FYIs

11 a.m. CT – Northwestern vs. Purdue (WGN Radio AM-720; Big Ten Network)

Spread: Northwestern +11.5 -107

Preview Podcast: coming soon

Throwback to 2010 Wrigley Field game podcast: go here

Have a look see at the layout:

Could the Cats move to Wrigley Field, temporarily, while Ryan Field is being renovated? Would it November only at 1060 W. Addison, while they do September and October at Soldier Field?

At this point nothing is set.

“Myself personally I’d be open to anything, we’re obviously going to have to play remotely [during renovation], but anywhere where we could play in Chicago will be good,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

On the topic of playing at Wrigley Field, Fitz said: “It’s a great honor, having the privilege to lead a team out into that venue is spectacular. It presents some unique challenges with both teams being on the same sideline. But we’ll make it work.”

northwestern football wrigley field

Secondly, could this game foreshadow a bowl game at Wrigley? We covered that here.

Northwestern Wildcats (3-7, 1-6) Preview

Asked about how his program represents the spirit of the city Chicago, Fitz got in touch with his inner Vivaldi, because he covered “The Four Seasons.”

“Our program as a whole is built like the city of broad shoulders. A toughness that we need to have to have a championship level. It’s the beautiful summer days and it’s the harsh winters, it’s the foliage in the fall colors and the hope of something new in the spring.”

NU has been ruled out of a .500 season, so thus bowl eligibility is not in the cards for 2021 (unless there is a shortage again, and 5-7 teams get in). It’s easy to compare this team to the 2019 edition, but it’s not a perfect analogy. That team had a pretty good defense, but just an atrocious offense.

This team is bad on both sides of the ball, maybe to an equal measure. So while they might end up with similar records, they’ll take different routes to get there. Wisconsin was without their top RB, who is now out for the season with injury, but it didn’t matter as Braelon Allen ran for his 6th straight 100-yd rushing game against the Cats.

Run defense has been a big issue all season for Northwestern.

Purdue Boilermakers (6-4, 4-3) Preview

I really hate to say this, but I think we’re headed to yet another OSU-WIS Big Ten title game. It’s not that it’s always this match-up, it’s just that at least one of them is there, every single time. Borrrrrrrrrrrring!!!!

It was thought that maybe Purdue could be the team that would spoil that, but eh, not so much! They got absolutely throttled, 59-31, at the Shoe last week as they gave up a TD to OSU on the first 6 drives.

If the Michigan State secondary is a “no fly zone”, then that game was basically deregulated laissez-faire airspace over Columbus. Look at these quarterbacking numbers:

CJ Stroud 31-38, 361, 5-0 82%

Aidan O’connell 40-52 390 4-0 77%

What a nice change of pace from the ultra-boring, ground-and-pound style of the Big Ten, especially so in the Big Ten West.

Prediction: Purdue 27, Northwestern 14

northwestern doesn’t have the weapons to exploit Purdue’s weakness in the secondary while Purdue is not a run-first team that can carve up the Cats’ soft run defense. So where does that leave us? In a game that will be closer than people think, but still a decisive win for the visitors.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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