Northwestern vs. Purdue fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Thursday, August 30
Game Time: 8:00 pm ET
Venue: Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
Northwestern (0-0) vs. Purdue (0-0) Game Preview
It’s the first FBS vs. FBS game of the 2018 college football season as well as the Big Ten opener with plenty of bowl implications – even for late August.
Purdue snuck into the bowl picture last season with a win in the final weekend, and now this year’s team is rebuilding a bit on defense in the second season under head coach Jeff Brohm, and the schedule has a slew of problems.
Lose this at home, and with dates remaining against Missouri, Boston College, at Nebraska, Ohio State, at Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin, it’ll be an uphill climb to get to six wins again.
The same goes for Northwestern. This is a talented team coming off a big season, and the program has a habit Pat Fitzgerald of getting hot as the season goes on, but QB Clayton Thorson is coming off a torn ACL late last season and there’s building to do on both side of the ball.
Duke is better than it was last season when it stomped the Wildcats. That’s up next with Michigan, at Michigan State and Nebraska coming up in Big Ten play, and with Wisconsin, at Iowa, and at Minnesota down the road. Throw in the date with Notre Dame, and there’s a problem if the Cats lose this.
Northwestern beat Purdue 23-13 last year in Evanston and has won four in a row in the series going back to a 2010 20-17 Boilermaker victory.
One Reason Why Northwestern Will Win
In the season opener with no preseason tune-up games to deal with, the Wildcat defense should be the star, especially up front.
Purdue’s running game will be just okay to begin with – even with a good group of running backs – but the NU D line should be stronger than the Purdue O line from the start, and LB Paddy Fisher and company should be able to clean up the rest.
On the other side, Northwestern gets back four starters on the offensive line, but the attack needs Thorson to be healthy, ready to go, and good. All indications are that he’ll be able to play, but he’s coming back from the torn ACL in a big hurry. If he’s the Clayton Thorson the NFL scouts are in love with, Northwestern wins.
One Reason Why Purdue Will Win
The Northwestern defensive front should be fantastic right out of the gate, but the secondary has to replace three new parts and could use a tune-up game or two that it won’t get.
Just about everyone threw on the Cats last year, but the secondary made up for the issues with interceptions. If this year’s group can’t come up with picks against the Boilermakers, there will be problems.
With a great group of tight ends, Purdue should be able to dink-and-dunk with a quick passing game to overcome the Northwestern pass rush and keep things moving.
It’ll be all about the takeaways. Northwestern had turnover issues throughout the first half of last season before tightening up, and that might be the problem again in an August opener.
What’s Going To Happen
It won’t be the cleanest of games, but both teams will be relatively even, with good enough quarterback play in key parts to make for an interesting second half of back-and-forth scoring.
At home, Purdue will find the offensive balance late, with the good running backs overcoming the strong Wildcat defensive front to take a late lead, and at home, the defense will hold on in a terrific opener to the Big Ten season.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Purdue 24, Northwestern 20
Line: Purdue -3, o/u: COMING
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3
Must See Rating: 3
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