Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview, Prediction

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It’s astounding when you think about it- last year this game was both entertaining and overflowing with hype. ESPN sent their A-team to broadcast it. Now Purdue Boilermakers vs Northwestern Wildcats is, lackluster to say the least. For host Northwestern, it’s a season that’s long been lost, largely due to an offense that is so ineffective, watching them play could best be expressed by Sideshow Mel: “this endeavor is the height of tedium.”

If you’ve ever wondered what a power five conference team (not running the triple option or something gimmicky like that) would look like if they had absolutely no passing game, this is it. As for Purdue, well they came within three minutes of season their season pretty much over last week. The Boilers pulled out the win last weekend over Nebraska, but “let’s just roll out the basketballs already” mode could be here shortly.

purdue boilermakers

While the Boilers should win this one, despite what the oddsmakers say, they still have to win at #16 Wisconsin and beat their arch-rivals Indiana (who are 7-2 this season) in order to go bowling. So hey, good luck with that. This is a good game for making college football predictions against the spread because Northwestern are actually favored; in most places by 2 and a half points. However, some sports books might give you a pick’em line. Why is this is so, in spite of NU looking lifeless this season?

Probably because Northwestern has won the last 5 and 9 of the last 12 in this series. Purdue has not beaten NU since 2010, but they own the all time series 50-32-1.

**SATURDAY, November 9

11am CT – Northwestern vs. Purdue (Ryan Field; Evanston, Ill.)

BTN: Brandon Gaudin, James Laurinaitis

WGN720: Dave Eanet, Ted Albrecht

Tickets: cheap and plentiful apparently (and likely to result in a pro-Purdue crowd)

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

It’s going to be a match-up of two third string QBs in this one, and that’s what sometimes happens when you get to November and all the injuries have piled up. Purdue will likely have to start Aidan O’Connell, a former walk-on in this one.

The Boilermakers have had a rough season, but it’s not that bad when you consider a.) how young the team was entering the season and

b.) how many injuries have piled up for them at all the offensive skill positions.

 

purdue boilermaker train track

Wide receiver Rondale Moore is their best overall player by far, and he hasn’t played since September. Head coach Jeff Brohm wasn’t optimistic about the chances of the preseason All-American playing on Saturday. Wide receiver Jared Sparks and linebacker Cornel Jones are most likely out of commission as well.

Getting anything done without Moore, as well as all the other places, where the Boilers are forced to play guys way down on the depth chart, is an accomplishment in its own right.

Never once did I even remotely consider buying a ticket to the Nebraska preseason hype party, and (much like with the Cleveland Browns) those who paid the cover charge just threw their money away.

Despite having two punts blocked, committing 10 penalties and losing the turnover battle, Purdue beat the summer media darlings known as Nebraska.

How? quoting RUN-DMC “they were down with the king.”

King Doerue claimed his first Big Ten freshman of the week award after he amassed 102 all-purpose yards with 71 yards rushing and 31 yards receiving.

He also had a receiving and rushing touchdown; making some key carries on the game-winning drive. If the NU defense comes at the king, they best not miss.

Northwestern Wildcats Preview (1-7, 0-6)

At this point, if Offensive Coordinator Mick McCall returns to his post next season, it’s an insult to the intelligence of the Northwestern fans, boosters, alumni, students and donors. Not sacking McCall is also an affront to the basic concepts of responsibility and accountability.

Yes, he’s accomplished a lot over his years in Evanston. Yes, he was won some special games alongside Pat Fitzgerlad, but ask yourself this- can you be this bad at your job and still get to keep it? McCall’s offenses have been in steady decline for five years and running, with right now being as nadir as nadir can be.

Additionally, the Cats need to do some re-evaluation of the offensive coaching staff, and go in a new direction when it comes to QB and WRs coaching.

The numbers and stats tell a story and make a case that’s irrefutable:

-No touchdowns scored in over a month (Oct. 5) and that’s a streak of 13 quarters and counting

-Six points total in the past three games

-Two touchdown passes, in total, for the entire season (by comparison, Notre Dame’s Ian Book had five in one half of play early last month)

-130th, i.e. dead last in all of FBS in: scoring offense, passing efficiency (20 pts lower than 129th place) and plays of 20+ yards (9 fewer than the penultimate team)

This is a historically bad offense and that’s ironic for two reasons. First, Rutgers is having a season so terrible that it could rival or surpass 1981 Northwestern as the new standard of awful.

Secondly, this is the program that invented the spread-option offense, which made them true trail blazers in national college football. So that’s a major point of pride, and example of tradition, when it comes to offensive schematics.

You have one obvious glaring weakness- no passing game, at all, the entire season, and the dominoes fall from there.

Northwestern’s yards per pass attempt has been laughably poor the entire campaign, and the lack of passing threat has hamstrung their offense entirely.

A no show offense has taken a once vaunted defense, and added a ton of unneeded pressure, and thus now the D look pretty average. There’s blame to go around. We’ve covered the quarterbacks already.

The receivers, on most days, can’t even catch feels. Nor can they ride drop top and chase thrills. (Sorry).

Overall, it’s extremely boring and very difficult to watch. This will go down as Pat Fitzgerald’s worst season ever and that includes his first, 2006, in which tragic circumstances led to his taking the reigns with not much time before the season began.

pat fitzgerald

That team went just 4-8, but they didn’t resemble a 1970s, 1980s dark ages era Northwestern team. This one certainly does. Of course, having won 9+ games in three of the last four seasons entering this one, 2019 looks to just be an aberration.

Prediction: Purdue 23, Northwestern 14

OMG!!! A Wildcats touchdown!! No way!!! and TWO!!! Relax, it will be achieved via defense and special teams.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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