There is optimism around the staff this week as Purdue faces a very beatable opponent tomorrow. Here are your staff picks:
Andrew Ledman (Jumboheroes)
Purdue plays their final home game of the season tomorrow as they face the Northwestern Wildcats. I know I shouldn't but I feel somewhat optimistic about this game. Purdue's offense has played much better than most of us thought they would this season. The same can be said about the Purdue defense for large stretches of the year. Injuries though have taken a toll on both sides of the ball including decimating the linebacking corps and the wide receiver position. Austin Appleby has had real problems getting the ball to people who can actually, ya know, catch it. If there's anything that gives me pause about picking Purdue here it's this.
Northwestern has been wildly inconsistent this season with wins over solid teams like Wisconsin and Notre Dame but then losses to a struggling Michigan team and a humiliating 48-7 loss to Iowa. They've been very similar to Purdue in that they don't have any type of consistency from one game to the next. Knowing that why should I be optimistic? Well that's a darn good question and I don't have a concrete answer for you. Just seeing the progression of this Purdue team from last season's rock bottom to this season's slightly higher than rock bottom has truly given me optimism. Is it what any of us want from this team? Most certainly not but it's a step in the right direction. Going into this season we knew it would be a long term project to get Purdue football back to any form of respectability so it's not surprising that Purdue again isn't going to a bowl game. The close losses for Purdue and the ability to stay close with teams like Michigan State and Nebraska are what give me hope that things can be turned around. If Purdue can defeat the Wildcats tomorrow and then plow through IU to get the Bucket back they'll finish the season with five wins and a big jump start onto next season. I think Purdue takes that first step tomorrow assuming that someone steps up in the receiving corps. Maybe it will be the criminally underused Dolapo Macarthy.
Andrew Zimmerman (PurdueAZ)
A healthy Purdue team fighting for bowl eligibility would have a great shot to win on Saturday at home against Northwestern. Unfortunately, I think the Boilers are missing a few too many key pieces and are still giving up way too many big plays to stop the Wildcats. This will be a game where some of the freshman are pushed into key roles and put in situations that they might not be comfortable with. I'm curious to see how they respond. In the end, I hope I'm wrong and we find a way to grind this one out, but I think our best bet for a 2nd conference win will be next week in Bloomington. The Cats stay alive for a bowl game: Northwestern 24, Purdue 16.
This could be a fun game to watch.
Guys, stop laughing. I'm being serious.
Of course, it obviously depends on which teams show up. If we see the same Purdue team that played against Illinois, Michigan State, and Minnesota, and the Northwestern team that showed up against Wisconsin, Penn State, and Notre Dame, it's going to be an exciting back and forth battle where the game will come down to the last play. If we see the same Purdue team that came out in the 1st half against Wisconsin, Iowa, and Central Michigan, and the same NW that came out against, well, everyone else, especially Michigan, it too will come down to the final play, but it the most painful way possible. I'd rather have the former, as P0-0N (or No-oP) would be more depressing than the M0-0N game.
Ultimately, I think Purdue comes out of the gates running and has a 2-TD lead at the half. NW will look dead at first, since they're still hungover from their excitement over Chick-Fil-A (and win over ND) last week. But the typical 2nd half Purdue team will show up, and NW will close the gap and again show us why they're the Cardiac Cats. A costly Purdue turnover in the last 5 minutes gives Northwestern the ball for their game winning drive. NW walks out with a win to remain bowl eligible, and Purdue retreats embarrassingly after blowing the game. But at least it won't be ugly as the 2009 game.
And that 2009 game was awful.
Purdue 36, Northwestern 40
It is Senior Day for Purdue and ever since Northwestern struggled out of the gate I have looked at this as a winnable game. I still feel the same even in light of their win at Notre Dame. That was part Northwestern having its best offensive game of the year by far and part Notre Dame completely choking in just about every way possible.
The Boilers have got to hold on to the football in this one. Northwestern has had a ton of success off of turnovers and I still remember their last trip to West Lafayette. That was 2009, when we had 6 turnovers, including three in the final two minutes of the first half, in a game the Wildcats barely won. If the Northwestern offense reverts to form I really like Purdue's chances.
I think we see an amped team tomorrow. The seniors want to close out strong and everyone else wants to build toward the future. I think we get some big plays from Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt and Austin Appleby has his best day as a Boilermaker. Purdue 31, Northwestern 24