At least it was kind of interesting this time? Sure, this one won’t get replayed on BTN in the years to come, but in a season where Northwestern’s games have been all but finished before reaching halftime, the ‘Cats hung around just enough to keep the crowd from filing out at Wrigley before the Boilermakers pulled away for good in the fourth. Here’s some stock ups and some stock downs from Northwestern’s eighth loss of the 2021 season.
The receiving corps
This category bears its current name because “Malik Washington and Stephon Robinson Jr.” would be too long of a top line, but those two had some impressive plays yet again today. Washington made the catch of the day in the first half, getting sandwiched mid-air between two defenders before the ball sat on top of his legs in the pile. The 46-yard reception set up Northwestern’s buzzer-beating touchdown before the break, and, all in all, the senior finished the game with three total receptions for 54 yards.
Robinson did what he’s done all season, providing electricity to the stale Wildcat offense on his way to a five-catch, 53-yard performance. It’s really too bad that the star transfer from Kansas’s one year in Evanston was wasted on this team and paired with this level of quarterback play, as there’s a case to be made that No. 5 in purple is one of the more dynamic receiving options to take the field for the ‘Cats in recent memory. Make sure to enjoy him roasting sorry defensive backs one final time next week.
Death, taxes and Evan Hull in the stock up section during the 2021 season. Watching this game in real time, I didn’t think Hull did anything too special, but if you check the box score, you realize that he had another impressive day at the office. Even if he didn’t break off a long run, 25 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown, as well as a team-leading six receptions for 33 yards would be considered a career day for several skill position players on Northwestern’s roster. For Hull, it’s just another nice performance in a season full of them.
With just one game remaining, the redshirt sophomore running back is only 92 yards away from a 1,000-yard campaign, remaining a rare bright spot in this downtrodden offense.
Honorable Mention: Milton Wright, student attendance, Chicago vibes
Everyone already knew the story with Charlie Kuhbander, he of missing seemingly every meaningful kick imaginable. And to be sure, his poor play came into effect yet again at Wrigley, as his 38-yard attempt was blocked by George Karlaftis. Obviously not all on Kuhbander there, though as someone who had a very good view of said kick, I can tell you that thing was a line drive that barely got off the ground. Add in an extra point that barely snuck through the right upright, and you have another rough day from the fifth-year kicker.
But of course, the headliner of the entire game was the misfortune that struck Northwestern to begin the second half, as Purdue’s kicker Chris van Eekeren slipped and completely lost his footing on the opening kick. That should’ve been a major momentum boost to an NU team that was down only a score at that point, but alas, fate was a cruel mistress to the ‘Cats this day.
This is such a Purdue Northwestern type play pic.twitter.com/147L3Nodge— Saturday Gameday (@SaturdayGameday) November 20, 2021
The ball pinged straight into Northwestern’s Will Lansbury, who was unable to recover, giving the Boilermakers an unintentional AND successful onside kick. Seven plays later, Purdue found pay dirt, and Northwestern had completely lost the chance it had to build on the momentum it had built heading into halftime. Jeff Brohm’s squad (and more specifically, Milton Wright) were unstoppable the rest of the game, and NU never had a true chance to get back in it. All in all, special teams play probably resulted in at least a 10-point swing in favor of Purdue, if not more.
Speaking of Wright ...
Get beat on a double move once, shame on you.
Get beat on a double move twice, still really should be shame on you but also kind of shame on me, the viewer, for expecting the same input to have different results.
Get beat on a double move three times and my word can we change the coverage assignments here???
Granted, Wright has long been a quality receiver for the Boilermakers, and some of the plays he made today had more to do with himself than it did the Northwestern defense, but the collective groan that rang throughout Wrigley once O’Connell would pump fake and Hampton would bite was unmistakable. Like watching someone go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, everyone knew the disaster that was about to unfold, but no one could do anything about it, and thus, they all simply resigned themselves to observing the catastrophe.
Thus continues the time honored tradition of a 2021 skill position player on an opposing team stunting on the ‘Cats in unbelievably dominant fashion. Huzzah.
The “field” at Wrigley
Listen, the experience was great and the atmosphere was admittedly rocking for what ended up being a three-possession game, but holy schnikes was that field a mess. Neither team could go more than two snaps without having someone wipe out on the turf, be it another botched kick from Purdue, or an Andrew Marty slide that accidentally slammed his head into the turf.
A step was already made in the right direction by configuring the field such that both teams could actually play offense in opposing directions. Now just figure out playing surface, and you might really have something.
Honorable Mention: Spoiling the Spoilermakers, the state of the program