After another big win last week against the Huskers, the ‘Cats are 3-0 and ranked in the polls. Can they keep it up in West Lafayette at a strange 4pm start time?
TRENT (PICKS 2-1)
The ‘Cats eked out a win against a flawed Nebraska team, improving to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time in 20 years. This week will be a much tougher test against Purdue. That is a strange sentence to write.
I have big concerns about Purdue’s David Bell and Rondale Moore, who you could stack up against pretty much any other WR duo in the country. Rondale missed the first two games and I’ve been Googling his name each day to check on his status for Saturday – if he is out, this game is much more manageable. Our secondary has been the strength of our team to-date, and curious to see how our strength lines up against Purdue’s.
There’s no doubt about it – this is a huge game. Purdue was lucky enough to miss Wisconsin due to COVID, and really only has one very loseable game remaining, against Indiana. If we beat the Boilermakers, we are a game up with a tiebreaker, and have about the same difficulty of schedule from here on out. We lose, and we’re in a spot where we would essentially need to make up two games down the stretch. If we win Saturday, and Wisconsin falls to Michigan…watch out.
Game Summary: I see the ‘Cats pounding Purdue on the ground in this game. The Boilermakers have the 83rd ranked rushing D, and we sat out Bowser last game to rest him up for a big load on Saturday. As I mentioned in my prediction last week (which played out), we’ve seem to have found our identity as a team that pounds the ball on the ground, plays great D, and wins on third down and in the turnover battle.
This is typically a spot where the ‘Cats falter – ranked, favored on the road – but after last week I’m hopeful for our future. It will be close throughout, but I see the ‘Cats building a lead early and holding on for dear life at the end for a big win.
Game Score: NU 21 – Purdon’t 17
Play of the Game: Bowser catches a screen pass for a TD
Player to Watch: Greg Newsome. He came back last week after missing two weeks with injuries, and was called for approx. 17 BS penalties. The refs seemed to throw a flag every time he breathed on another player (guess that saying takes on a new meaning during COVID). Will we have him shadow Bell or Moore on Saturday? He will play an important role.
Warrior to Watch: Andy Day. They love those night game start times out west.
Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Michigan. How will the Badgers look after two weeks off? Will they be starting their fourth string QB? I’m not one to root for the Wolverines, but a Michigan win here would be big for the ‘Cats.
DOC ROCHE (0-0)
No contest due to COVID.
Cats 29 – Purdon’t 28
The ‘Cats appear to have quite the defense. They are giving up yards, but they lock down within the red zone and have an unbelievable knack for the timely play. Let’s hope the 90 minute streak of 2nd half shutout football continues on Saturday.
I’m a bit more optimistic that the ‘Cats will be able to plow this week. To be honest, their offense has been quite shit thus far. There’s clearly more ingenuity in Bajakian’s playbook than there was with our good friend Mick, but the numbers right now don’t reflect any sort of improvement over McCall’s offenses. NU ranks below 100 in offensive efficiency. Simply put, that sucks.
I’d like to see Ramsey scramble a bit more. He’s very good as an improviser but he seems a bit hesitant to actually do that. On the flip side, he doesn’t have a strong arm. That was apparent last week. He looks like Tim Wakefield trying to hit 80mph on a fastball. So, throwing downfield consistently might not be in the cards.
Here’s to Bowser playing and the O line putting guys on their asses.
Per the above, NU will try to grind this one out (as they always do). Purdue isn’t really interested in that type of game, but I think the ‘Cats will have success dictating tempo in this one.
Expect a healthy dose of Bowser (or Brown) mixed in with some mid yardage chunk plays from Lees, McGowan and Raine.
I see no reason the defense won’t continue their bending and not breaking routine. This may be the biggest challenge the secondary will face all year, but Purdue’s QB is a sitting duck in the pocket and I expect the ‘Cats to get to this guy several times.
Game Score: NU 31 – Purdue 20
Play of the Game: Ramsey with a loooooooong scramble on 3rd down to essentially seal the game.
Player to Watch: The D Line…. see the Game Summary above.
Warrior to Watch: Bag. Why not?
Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Michigan. I don’t think there’s any other option here. This is really the only other game that has any impact on NU’s season. Go Blue?
Cats 33 – Boilermakers 20
Game Summary: Likely more of the same. Stout defense, sub-par offense, game ends with more points for the ‘Cats than their opponent. I’ll be up in Sonoma drinking wine until about kickoff time (this schedule change really throws a wrench in my plans) so I’ll likely be watching the first half from the car on the way back to SF. Really hoping I don’t have any reason to throw my phone out the window.
Game Score: NU 24 – Purdue 20
Play of the Game: We actually run play action on 1st down and get a nice wide open receiver for a TD. Probably RCB if I had to pick someone.
Player to Watch: Payton Ramsey. He’s been a decent game manager but I’d like to see more.
Warrior to Watch: Roger. I hear he has a nice Burgundy ready for a nightcap after the game.
Other Game to Watch: I guess I gotta say it… Go Blue?!
Game Summary: The Cats are undefeated, but back to back mediocre performances against decent competition have left me wondering what this team is. In regards to the Cats, my state of mind matches that of Missouri. In other words, I need the Cat’s to “show me” something.
Purdue received a Covid bye last week, which will definitely help them and begs the question is Wisconsin’s covid outbreak a clever attempt by the Badgers to weaken the Cats before their matchup next week. Our investigative team will have more on that next week. Unfortunately for Purdue, two of their three best players are likely out this week.
NU O vs Purdue D
The Cats are currently 103rd in the SP+ offensive ratings while Purdue is 60th on D. This matchup appears to be in Purdue’s favor, however, George Karlaftis is the heart and soul of this D and without him, they were outscored by Illinois led by 4th stringer Coran Taylor. Theoretically, Northwestern should get better as the season progresses and they learn Coach Jake’s system better. Could this be the game for the Cat’s to break out?
NU D vs Purdue
Strength on Strength. David Bell is a stud and Horvath is a nice back, but Rondale Moore hasn’t played yet and he would make this offense dynamic. The Cat’s haven’t allowed a second-half point yet, and have been very good against everything except quarterback runs. Aidan O’Connell can’t run and will struggle like an Irishman on the morning of March 18th. If Rondale Moore plays, this could be really interesting…
Game Score: NU 35 – Purdue 24
Play of the Game: Greg Newsome reads and intercepts a bubble screen to David Bell and takes it the other way for 6.
Player to Watch: Earnest Brown – The line needs to get some pressure in order to disrupt the Purdue air attack.
Warrior to Watch: Trent- He really hates trains.
Other Game to Watch: Bears vs Vikings – There may be a wager on this one amongst the boys…