Northwestern Purdue

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Week 1

College Football

Pick – Analysis


Unlike most teams in the country, Northwestern and Purdue start the season with a Conference Game. And with both projected to finish around the same mark, this Game could have some importance in the Big Ten West at the end of the season. Playing at home, the Boilermakers are slight -3 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Boilers turned things around in Jeff Brohm’s first season as head coach, finishing 7-6 that includeda bowl win over Arizona. It will be hard to repeat with a mostly new defense, but the offense has the talent to improve. The biggest question going into the first Game is who will start at quarterback as both David Blough and Eiljah Sindelar are expected to see time. Blough had better overall numbers and completed eight percent more of his passes, yet Sindelar started the final few Games when Blough was hurt and won the bowl Game with 396 yards and Four touchdowns. Behind a line that returns Four starters to go with running back Markell Jones and receiver Jackson Anthrop, the Boilers should take another step offensively.

Northwestern’s defense will be a tough matchup, though, after holding Purdue to 13 points last November. Under Pat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats are often stout defensively and that’s how they’ll pull the upset in this Game. In last year’s meeting, it was the run defense that led the way holding the Boilers to 40 yards on 1.8 yards per carry and while Sindelar threw for 376 yards, it wasn’t enough. 

The Wildcats may have trouble reaching 10 wins again, but with Four-year starter Clayton Thorson at the helm, they should be plenty good. That said, he’ll need to improve on his 15 TDs and 12 INTs if this offense is going to get better because stud running back Justin Jackson is gone and even he didn’t get much going in this matchup last year (46 yards, 1.8 ypc). With Jeremy LArkin at tail back, Northwestern may focus on the passing Game more as long as Thorson is up to the task. He has top wide outs Bennett Skowronek and Flynn Nagel to work with so that at least helps.

Purdue’s defense was surprisingly good last year, allowing just over 20 points per Game, but with only Four returning starters, there could be some early problems. If they can’t stop the ground Game, that will only open up easier throws for Thorson.

The Boilermakers are only favored in this Game because they are at home and the only Games they lost at home last year were to Michigan and by one point against Nebraska. Betting on them will be tough because on the surface, the Wildcats have the better all-around team with a defense that’s expected to be a notch above. The other side of that is Northwestern has often struggled early in the year, especially on the road, so that’s a reason to take Purdue. It can also be argued that the Purdue offense could be explosive in the second year under Brohm. Either way, it’ll be a close contest with the team getting better quarterback play the likely winner.

Our Pick – The big question mark will be Purdues defense and that ultimately keeps us from getting involved with this Game in any serious way. Using last years data, we would make this a one point Purdue win at home. However, revenge can be a very powerful angle in college football. Here, we have revenge times 4, meaning there is not one player on the Purdue roster who has ever beaten Purdue. This will be the last chance for many.

With that in mind, in what figures to be a tight Game, we’re going to take Purdue, at home, in a nationally televised night Game. The atmosphere and revenge should combine to give Purdue a nice motivational edge that makes a difference in this spot. Purdue -2.5


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