On Saturday, November 11, 2017, the 4-5 Purdue Boilermakers travel to Ryan Field to take on the 6-3 Northwestern Wildcats in this Big10 showdown. Purdue looks to when two of their last three games of the season, facing Northwestern, Iowa, and then Indiana so that they become bowl eligible with six victories. The Boilermakers snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend, by defeating Illinois by 19 points.
Northwestern is already bowl eligible but is in a prime position to win their last three games of the season, giving them nine victories and a shot at one of the more prestigious bowl games after Christmas. The Wildcats have won their last four games following a 2-3 start, including an eight-point victory in triple overtime over Michigan State three weeks ago.
Both of these teams have played well against the spread this season, entering the contest 6-3. Purdue is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against Northwestern, and they are just 1-5 straight up in the last six games head-to-head against the Wildcats. In the last 10 contests between these teams, the total has gone under in seven of those, but the Boilermakers have played exceptionally well on the road at Northwestern in terms of against the spread, going 7-2 in the last nine contest between these two. The total has gone under in five of the last six games at Northwestern.
Northwestern is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games and are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games at home. They have gone under in 11 of their last 14 home contests.
Purdue enters this contest with a real shot of getting on a roll to close out the season, giving them three victories in their final games which would move them to 7-5 on the season. In years past that it has been the Boilermakers offense that has been the big catalyst for this team, but this year Purdue is being led by their outstanding defense.
The Boilermakers has allowed an average of 18.9 points per game despite the fact that they are allowing nearly 370 yards of offense per contest. Purdue has recorded just 15 sacks this season but they have two outstanding playmakers in Markus Bailey and Danny Ezechukwu, who have 5.0 and 4.0 sacks respectively. Purdue has recorded seven interceptions the season and has nine fumble recoveries.
It has been two different quarterbacks battling it out to get the starter position, with Elijah Sindelar making for starts and appearing in eight games and David Blough starting five games and appearing in nine. This should be Blough’s job to lose, as he has completed 65.0 percent of his passes in 157 attempts, throwing nine touchdowns and 1103 yards.
Northwestern is also in a position to win their last three games of the season, as they finish out with Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois. While it has been the defense that has led the Boilermakers, the Wildcats offense has been doing the job for Northwestern. They are averaging 28.0 points per game and over 400 yards of offense per contest.
They are led by an impressive young running back, Justin Jackson, who has gained 798 yards and eight touchdowns. He is the perfect complement to quarterback Clayton Thorson, who has thrown for 2287 yards and 10 touchdowns. While Thorson has completed 60.7 percent of his passes, he is also thrown 11 interceptions, definitely not a number any coach likes to see. He will need to be much more guarded with the ball to ensure Purdue doesn’t have a chance at pulling off the upset.
There are two quality pass rushers for the Wildcats as well, with Joe Gaziano leading the team with 6.0 sacks and Samdup Miller second with 4.0. However, after that, the team has just seven other sacks. Pressure on whichever Purdue quarterback starts would really help to ensure a victory for the Wildcats.
Boilermakers vs. Wildcats Betting Lines
Both of these teams have a lot to play for, so it should be a pretty exciting contest. It obviously means a great deal more to Purdue because they need to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible. This makes them desperate, but the Wildcats are not the kind of team that you want to play. Expect Northwestern to cover the spread and for the total to be slightly over 47.
My Pick: Northwestern -4 ( -110)
Totals:Over 47.0 (-110)
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