This week we have TWO interviews to get to know an opponent. Kevin Trahan is the main writer for SB Nation's InsideNU and here are his responses to the same questions I asked Lake the Posts:
T-Mill: You guys looked the best you have offensively against Notre Dame. What happened? Was it an anomaly or did things finally work?
Kevin: It would be kind of crazy to expect the performance against Notre Dame to be the new normal, though I'm sure some Northwestern fans believe it will be. A lot of it was probably an anomaly. That's the best the offensive line has played all year, and it showed, as the running game shredded the Irish. The defense also forced some pretty lucky turnovers, and I don't think we'll ever see Jack Mitchell put together that kind of a performance again. That said, if the offensive line continues to play well, then maybe things will start looking like that a little bit more.
T-Mill: On the other hand, the normally stout defense gave up 40 points. What were the breakdowns?
Kevin: Some of that was on turnovers. The other issue is that NU gave up some big plays, when it usually does a pretty good job of avoiding those. Efficiency-wise, the defense actually wasn't terrible. There were just a lot of plays in this game, and the offense didn't give the defense great field position to work with. But certainly, there were too many breakdown in the secondary in both the run and pass defense.
T-Mill: Is there a more up and down team in America than Northwestern?
Kevin: I feel like there has to be, considering Northwestern doesn't tend to be up-and-down week-to-week. They'll play well for a stretch and then just stop remembering how to play. I guess it doesn't really feel up-and-down because it's typically the same problems every week. Nothing ever temporarily gets fixed.
T-Mill: How much does the possibility of a bowl game help the Cats this weekend?
Kevin: I'm sure it's a bit of an added motivation. As boring as it might be for fans to watch NU play UTEP in the Heart of Dallas, Bowl, getting those extra bowl practices is a big deal for coaches.
T-Mill: Purdue has played some great running games all in a row here. What edge does Northwestern's spread give?
Kevin: That they finally run it? For some reason, Northwestern got into its mind earlier this year that it should be a power running team, which was an absolutely terrible idea, given that none of the linemen were recruited for that purpose. They've gone back to the spread more in recent games, and the obvious advantage is that it creates more space for the running backs to work with. Justin Jackson has exception vision, and he's able to find the holes that the line creates.
T-Mill: Finally, a prediction?
Kevin: Northwestern could very well find a way to lose this game, but I think they'll win somewhat handily. It won't be a blowout or ever that close. I'll say 31-14.