After lifting interim tag from Braun, Northwestern tries to become bowl eligible against Purdue
Thu, Nov 16, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
Purdue (3-7, 2-5 Big Ten) at Northwestern (5-5, 3-4), Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Line: Purdue by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Purdue lead 53-33-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
The Boilermakers snapped a four-game losing streak last week with a 49-30 romp over Minnesota. Now, they can work on ending a three-game road skid. It's been more than two months since Purdue's victory at Virginia Tech and with two winnable games left, the Boilermakers can finish Ryan Walters' first season with some momentum. Northwestern looks to become bowl eligible in its first game since coach David Braun had the "interim" tag removed from his job title. The school made that move Wednesday, rewarding him for a surprising turnaround after Pat Fitzgerald was fired in the wake of a hazing and abuse scandal. The Wildcats won at Wisconsin last week.
Purdue RBs Devin Mockobee and Tyrone Tracy Jr. vs. Northwestern run defense. This dynamic duo fueled the Boilermakers top rushing day in more than a decade (353 yards) last week. Each topped the 120-yard mark and combined for three scores. Up next is a Wildcats run defense ranked two spots behind Minnesota. Expect Purdue to lean heavily on Mockobee and Tracy, hoping to replicate last week's performance.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Purdue: TE Garrett Miller. QB Hudson Card has been looking all season for a consistent complementary receiver to speedster Deion Burks, who has seven of the team's 12 TD catches. Miller has been up and down but could be poised for a breakout game after catching six passes for 65 yards and his first TD since Week 4. He's also a solid blocker in the ground game.
Northwestern: QB Ben Bryant. Bryant returned after missing four games with an upper body injury and led touchdown drives on Northwestern's first three series last week. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns with Wisconsin's Luke Fickell - his coach at Cincinnati from 2018 to 2020 and in 2022 after a year at Eastern Michigan - on the opposite sideline.
FACTS & FIGURES
Walters (37) and Braun (38) are the youngest coaches in the Big Ten. ... Purdue has won three of the last four in this series. ... The Boilermakers haven't won back-to-back games since a three-game winning streak last November when Northwestern was sandwiched in the middle of it. But Purdue has won three games each of the past two Novembers. ... None of Purdue's first 10 opponents have a losing record. Neither does Northwestern. ... This week, Purdue S Dillon Thieneman became the first defensive player in league history to win four Big Ten freshman of the week awards. ... Northwestern has more wins than in the previous two seasons combined, after going 3-9 in 2021 and 1-11 last year. ... Braun is the first Northwestern coach with five wins in his first season since Walter McCornack went 10-1-3 in 1903. He has a chance to become the first to finish above .500 in his debut year since Pappy Waldorf led the 1935 team to a 4-31 record. ... The Wildcats haven't won back-to-back games since a 5-0 start in 2020.
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