It is time for another guest blogger Q&A and this week, like when Purdue played Notre Dame, we have multiple writers. SB Nation boasts of an über-MAC blg in the Hustle Belt, which covers the perceived little brother of the Big Ten extremely well, much like our own Off Tackle Empire. Jordan Near contacted me as the MAC has two games against the Big Ten this week, and my answers can be found here.
The second guest this week is Mike Breese, who has been the manager of SB Nation's Red and Black Attack for many years (and is the new home of basketball transfer Anthony Johnson). He has been a guest here from way back in the early Hammer & Rails days, when Purdue lost to NIU in 2009. Here is what they had to say about this year's game.
T-Mill: Northern Illinois already beat Iowa in Iowa City. Does that give them even more confidence going into Saturday?
Mike: I believe that it does give the Huskies much more confidence that they can win the game in Purdue. It's all about getting used to going on the road and taking care of business. NIU has done it before in the past against Purdue (in 2009) but that was four years ago and both teams are obviously completely new. It just keeps building and building for a team like Northern Illinois. They went to the Orange Bowl last year and have won the MAC Championship the last two years, so that gave the team huge expectations for this year to not slip up and lose to a team like Iowa. Those expectations have been met and will continue this week against Purdue.
Jordan: I think it helps a little bit. I know traditionally kinnick is known as a tougher venue than Ross Ade is but that doesn't make it an easy venue. NIU has played two games on the road so that helps. So I'd say it's a point they can look to and say they've been there before. Playing at a big ten venue is never easy for MAC teams though.
T-Mill: The Purdue offense has struggled greatly, but so has the Northern Illinois defense. Who makes whom look better on Saturday?
Mike: The NIU defense has been pretty shoddy this season ranking about 115th overall so far and 120th in pass D. The problem is slow starts where the defense can't stop anything and rack up yards. The Huskies got behind 7-21 at Idaho and 0-20 against EIU. Then they make adjustments and things turnaround a bit and wake up. The slow starts need to start. Eventually once we figure out offenses, the defense hulks up and the D-Line goes bonkers, as evidenced by 11 sacks against Idaho and 5 sacks against EIU. Most of those were in the 2nd half of the game.
As for the Purdue Offense, they don't appear to be coming around at all, so the I just see the Huskie defense having a lot more upside rather than the other way around.
Jordan: This is a very interesting question because both have proven they cannot be relied upon. This may be a homer pick, but the NIU defense has been opportunistic and created turnovers so I think that gives them the slight edge. However, I think Purdue cracks the 300 yard mark this week.
T-Mill: Has Jordan Lynch been as good as last year so far or even better?
Mike: Jordan Lynch appears to be better this season. He's been sharper with his throws and appears to be even more in control of the offense. The defense hasn't given him any breaks this season, and he's gotten better at coming back in games without getting flustered and leading the team to victory. The offense isn't always in sync but when it is it's pretty much unstoppable with Lynch at the helm. You just look up and Lynch has beaten you with either his legs or his arm, whereas last year it was mostly his legs. Last week he had 189 yds on the ground and you never would have thought he got to that number. He's just a machine.
Jordan: Better, by a lot. When you look at the numbers I think a lot of NIU fans take it for granted. Last week he went over 400 total yards and we kind of went ho hum. It shows right now he isn't on pace to have as ridiculous stats as last year, but if you look at three games he started last year compared to this year he's crushing it.
T-Mill: what needs to happen for Purdue to pull off what Iowa could not and beat the Huskies?
Mike: What Purdue needs to do is use the blueprint from the last couple games and get off to a strong start vs the Huskies. They have to be creative on offense so the defense has trouble adjusting. They have to take advantage of the aggressive Huskie defense and throw some screens in there as well.
Turnovers are big as well. Lynch has 2 INTs last game trying to force some throws. Come out positive in that area than the Boilermakers have a good chance of winning.
Jordan: Purdue has to force turnovers to win this and take advantage of NIUs porous defense. I think Iowa has a better D than Purdue does and NIU moved it well on them. Purdue has to start hot on O and win the turnover margin by 2 to win.