Northwestern will play at Ryan Field for the last time in 2015 Saturday when it welcomes Purdue to Evanston. The Wildcats (7-2, 3-2) are heavy favorites over the Boilermakers (2-7, 1-4). For full coverage of the game, head here.
Below are our picks for Saturday's game (11 a.m., Big Ten Network):
Henry Bushnell: Northwestern 26, Purdue 17
Northwestern is a 15.5-point favorite, as of Thursday afternoon. Northwestern should not be a two-touchdown favorite over anybody. Statistically, Northwestern's offense will be the worst unit on the field Saturday, and while you'd expect the Wildcats to be able to run the ball, Purdue's pass defense is actually decent. There's a real chance that Northwestern's passing attack turns in another stinker. Northwestern will win the game, I'm not worried about that. But it's not going to be particularly pretty/comfortable/fun.
Josh Rosenblat: Northwestern 31, Purdue 23
I just cannot see Northwestern blowing out Purdue, no matter how bad the Boilermakers might be. Northwestern, also, probably isn't good enough to blow Purdue out either. The Wildcats will get up early and go into a shell, allowing Purdue to apply some pressure as the game gets into the latter stages. Ultimately, though, Northwestern will maintain control of the contest throughout.
Zach Pereles: Northwestern 30, Purdue 10
Purdue is really bad on both sides of the ball. Against Nebraska-- the Boilermakers' only win of any recognition this year (yes, I know they only have two)-- Tommy Armstrong was out and his backup Ryker Fife had five turnovers, including four inside his own 20 yard line. Yikes. And Purdue still barely managed to hold on. Justin Jackson should find plenty of room to run, and Northwestern will head into its biggest game of the year, at Wisconsin on Nov. 20, at 8-2 after a relatively easy win.
Tristan Jung: Northwestern 38, Purdue 20
I think Northwestern starts this game well and jumps out to an early lead. Justin Jackson, Warren Long and Solomon Vault will pick up easy yards against Purdue's terrible run defense. Purdue gave 382 rushing yards at home last week. Northwestern may not be able to throw the ball, but last week they showed they can block for Jackson and the other backs when necessary. Purdue's offense can be competent occasionally and I think they can get a few scores in garbage time.
Sam Brief: Northwestern 31, Purdue 10
I expect this one to play out like the Minnesota game, a 27-0 drubbing. Look for the re-emergence of Justin Jackson to play a huge role offensively and for the Northwestern defense to clamp down hard. The Boilermakers are confusing—they played Michigan State very well and put up 55 against Nebraska but we're demolished by Illinois and Minnesota. I expect this one to fall somewhere in the middle. Wildcats by 21.
Ian McCafferty: Northwestern 27, Purdue 6
Purdue is bad, Northwestern is not bad, and that's pretty much what this game will come down to. To be honest I'm not sure what percentage of Northwestern's will actually come from the offense, as I think the defense absolutely dominates the Boilermakers on Saturday. However, Purdue just gave up 382 rushing yards to Illinois and Justin Jackson is coming off a career day against Penn State. This one could get ugly fast.
Josh Burton: Northwestern 24, Purdue 20
As Ian said above, Purdue is not a good football team. However, Purdue is not over two touchdowns worse than Northwestern -- which the betting line for this game would suggest -- so I think the Boilermakers will actually give the Wildcats a good test. But, in the end, Northwestern's defense is going to be too much for David Blough and Darrell Hazell's offense, making the upcoming matchup with Wisconsin very interesting.
Martin Oppegaard: Northwestern 27, Purdue 7
Northwestern runs all over the porous Purdue defense to take an early lead, forcing the Boilermakers to abandon the run. With emerging freshman running back Markel Jones taken out of the offense, Purdue struggles to get anything going. Justin Jackson breaks a long run to finally get in the endzone again and Clayton Thorson proves he is healthy, accounting for two touchdowns. Postgame, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell reiterates that he has seen growth from his team and that they are heading in the right direction.