As Northwestern looks to avoid its first double digit losing season since 1989, the Wildcats head to West Lafayette led by sophomore Cole Freeman, making his first collegiate start. On the other hand, Purdue currently sits in prime position to win the Big Ten West. Here are Inside NU’s predictions for what looks to be a chilly kickoff Saturday at Purdue:
Gavin Dorsey: Purdue 38, Northwestern 6
Cole Freeman mans the offense today, and frankly, we have no clue what we’re going to see. His scrambling ability should give the ‘Cats some life, but the Boilermaker offense’s high-flying ability should keep Northwestern in catch-up mode for much of the game. Purdue has a very good chance at winning the Big Ten West, and with something to play for, the Boilermakers are sure to try to put up numbers.
Iggy Dowling: Purdue 28, Northwestern 10
Even if Northwestern’s offense somehow shows out (which it theoretically can — this is another team that made Spencer Petras look like the class of the Big Ten), NU’s defense just has not proven it can consistently string together stops for four quarters. That’s hard for any unit to do when it has to deal with Aidan O’Connell and a deep Purdue receiving corps. This is anything but a trap game for the Boilermakers, so they should build some early momentum and run with it as fellow Big Ten West contender Minnesota did.
Bradley Locker: Purdue 37, Northwestern 13
In his career, Lincolnshire, Ill. native Aidan O’Connell has these combined passing stats against Northwestern (in three games): 65% completion, seven touchdowns, two interceptions, 136.1 rating. The Stevenson alum torched NU last year to the tune of 423 yards, three touchdowns and zero picks in maybe the best performance Wrigley Field has seen since Aroldis Chapman in the 2016 World Series. Even without David Bell, Milton Wright and George Karlaftis this time around, Northwestern is going to struggle mightily in containing Charlie Jones and Payne Durham, plus Devin Mockobee.
John Olsen: Purdue 38, Northwestern 14
Pat Fitzgerald has now lost nine-plus games in his last three full seasons, and after this defeat, he will have a double-digit number in the “L” column for the first time in his coaching career. #FitzgeraldFacts
Jake Mozarsky: Purdue 34, Northwestern 14
With Northwestern having a lot of question marks on defense, Purdue’s offense can have a field day against the ‘Cats. On the other side of the ball, while the Boilermaker defense is prone to chunk plays, there are, again, many unresolved dilemmas on this side of the ball. Purdue wins easily.
Ethan Segall: Purdue 28, Northwestern 13
I expect Northwestern to be able to get the ground attack going in this one, allowing them to keep the defense off the field and the possession time battle close. However, Purdue has a real chance at the Big Ten West crown and think they’ll be focused enough to avoid letting this become a trap game.
Ryan Cole: Purdue 24, Northwestern 7
I seriously hope NU gives me a reason to pick them to win against Illinois next week. I need to predict a Wildcat victory like I need water. But I’m certainly not doing it this week. Purdue is just a lot better than Northwestern, and while I think the secondary will play better than some expect against Charlie Jones and Purdue’s receivers, I don’t believe in the offense. 1-10 here we come.
Patrick Winograd: Purdue 31, Northwestern 14
I want Northwestern to play well enough offensively to beat Purdue. However, with the way the ‘Cats played against Minnesota, I just don’t see that happening. Purdue will be effective enough on offense, and capitalize on Northwestern’s mistakes, leading the Boilermakers to a comfortable win on the road.
Sophia Vlahakis: Purdue 31, Northwestern 10
There hasn’t been much reason for optimism since the first game of the season. Neither side of the ball is strong enough to fuel Northwestern to a win, and I’m not sure the ‘Cats can keep a game competitive. To keep it plain and simple: Purdue is the better team and the Boilermakers actually have a Big Ten West title to fight for.
Zain Bando: Purdue 35, Northwestern 17
The last two weeks of the regular season are always the most unpredictable, but this game simply isn’t one that falls into the unpredictable category. Northwestern was unable to manage any sort of competitive spirit throughout its loss to Minnesota and nothing tells me that this game will be any different. Purdue has an inside track to a Big Ten West title and with the game on their home field, the Wildcats won’t be able to embrace the stakes, even if it means a solid performance from Evan Hull.