Northwestern took down Purdue 38-14 today in West Lafayette to improve to 5-6 on the season, with a chance to get bowl eligibility next week in the LOLHAT game against Illinois. Here are the three biggest things we saw from the win.
1. Trevor Siemian's injury looks bad.
While it was a nice win for Northwestern, Trevor Siemian's injury in the second quarter put a damper on the outcome, and there is suddenly a big question mark for the Wildcats going forward. While there is no word yet on whether Siemian will be out for the remainder of the season (or at least for the Illinois game), but the injury didn't look good, as he was crushed by a pile of Boilermakers on a QB sneak.
Siemian couldn't put any weight on his leg as he was taken off the field, and he was in street clothes, crutches and a brace on the sideline. We won't speculate, but obviously, it didn't look good.
The only good news for NU is that Zack Oliver and Matt Alviti both played well. Oliver, in particular, was pretty impressive in limited action (albeit against Purdue). It will be interesting to see what happens next week.
2. Best outing from the offensive skill players yet?
Earlier this week, we wrote that Kyle Prater is probably Northwestern's best wide receiver, and he backed that up today with a big day and some impressive catches, finishing with 82 yards.
But it wasn't just Prater. Dan Vitale had a nice catch for Northwestern's first touchdown, and the running backs did their part, as well. Justin Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season, inching closer toward having an outside shot of finishing with more rushing yards than Venric Mark had 2012, despite barely playing earlier in the season. He had 147 yards and two touchdowns, including a season long of 68. Treyvon Green was equally impressive, and for the second straight week, showed a shiftiness that we haven't seen from him. He finished with 66 yards and a 9.4-yard average.
3. Purdue is bad, but is Northwestern hitting its stride?
Purdue is very bad at football. There is really no way to sugarcoat that. The Boilermakers couldn't stop turning the ball over and couldn't cover anyone (or get a pass rush). However, this was pretty clearly the Wildcats' best performance of the season. While the offense was very efficient, despite the injury to Siemian, the defense was perhaps even more impressive.
Purdue finished with just 3.9 yards per play, and at least some of the turnovers were forced.
Of course, it would have been convenient for this Northwestern to show up earlier in the season, but it's important now, as both NU and Illinois will be playing for bowl eligibility in the LOLHAT game next week. If the Wildcats win four straight to end the year to finish 7-6, then maybe some of the sourness from the season will disappear.