Purdue Football 2020: Week 4 Matchup Preview – Northwestern

Photo Credit: Purdue Athletics

Kick Off

5:00 PM ET


Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana (Cap. 57,236)


Forecast: 48°F, 35% chance of rain, Winds 13mph SE

2020 Record

Purdue (2-0) 

Northwestern (3-0)

S&P+ Rankings

Purdue- 37

Northwestern- 31

All-Time Series Wins

Purdue- 51

Northwestern – 32

Ties – 1

Last Win In Series

November 9th, 2019 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois (24-22)

August 30th, 2018 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana (31-27)

Projected Starting Lineups


QB: Aidan O’Connell

RB: Zander Horvath

LT: Grant Hermanns

LG: Spencer Holstege

C: Sam Garvin

RG: DJ Washington

RT: Will Bramel

WR: David Bell

WR: Amad Anderson

WR: Milton Wright

NT: Lorenzo Neal

DE: George Karlaftis

DE: Anthony Watts

OLB: DaMarcus Mitchell

ILB: Derrick Barnes

ILB: Jaylan Alexander

OLB: Jalen Graham

CB: Cory Trice

FS: Cam Allen

SS: Brennan Thieneman

CB: Dedrick Mackey

K: JD Dellinger

P: Brooks Cormier

LS: Nick Zecchino

KR: Marcellus Moore

PR: Zander Horvath


2020 Stat Comparison

Offensive Points per game27.528.3
Offensive Rushing Yards Per Game94.5205.3
Offensive Passing Yards Per Game326.5170.3
Total Offensive Yards Per Game421375.7
Defensive Points per game2212
Defensive Rushing Yards Per Game186121.7
Defensive Passing Yards Per Game280192.3
Total Defensive Yards Per Game466314

What to Watch For

This is without a doubt the biggest game Purdue Football has had in years, because for the first time in years a Purdue win would mean the Boilers are in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten West division.  As big of a game as this is for Purdue, it is just as big for Northwestern, who would also take control of the west division.  Oddly enough Purdue and Northwestern are also coming off of down seasons, resulting in both teams making changes on opposite sides of the ball.  As many of you know, Purdue made significant changes on defense bringing in Bob Diaco and Co. Northwestern fired their offensive coordinator Mick McCall after 12 seasons with the Wildcats, and brought in Mike Bajakian, the former OC for Boston College and QB coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The change has already paid dividends for the Wildcats as Northwestern finished 126th in scoring offense last year and have improved to 66th in the nation up until this point in the season.  Another change took place in the offseason, but it brings a familiar face to the forefront at Northwestern, I am of course talking about grad transfer QB Peyton Ramsey from Indiana.  After Michael Penix Jr. took over starting roles for the Hoosiers Ramsey jumped to Northwestern, who frankly had a wide open QB room after some poor play in 2019.  This has proved a big boon for Northwestern, but Purdue has seen Ramsey in back to back years in 2018 and 2019, so they know what he is capable of.  I think Northwestern will be able to nickel and dime Purdue’s defense but the question will be can Purdue prevent the big plays.  I don’t think they will need to worry about Ramsey’s arm for that but rather his legs.  Keep Ramsey in the pocket and contained will be paramount for the Boilers on defense.  The bend but don’t break defense can often be hard to watch, but when done effectively it provides a huge benefit to the offense.  Look for Purdue to continue to have great defense in the red zone.  

On offense Purdue will look to continue it’s solid performance.  I say solid for a reason because Purdue has some great weapons but I feel like the offense has yet to really hit it’s full potential.  Week 1 Purdue faced off against a tough Iowa defense and was able to eek it out on a game winning drive late in the 4th.  In Week 2 Purdue was it’s own worst enemy on offense with fumbles, which I think really changed the dynamic of the game.  In Week 4 can Purdue put all the pieces together?  Doing so against a consistent Northwestern defense will be a tall order, but the impromptu bye week might be just the thing the Boilers needed.  Rumors are swirling about a potential return of Rondale Moore, he’s back, he’s not, the dance goes on and on.  Let’s forget that for a minute.  Purdue still has arguably the best receiver corps and receiver in the Big Ten even without Rondale.  Purdue will need to utilize them and take a few more big time shots in a big game.  In Week 1 there was a miss to Bell on what would’ve been a touchdown, but was able to fix it on a huge over the top pass to Milton Wright against Illinois in week 2.  I would like to see a few more shots like that against Northwestern, because like Purdue they are a bend don’t break defense.  Can the Boilers not only break but shatter their defense?  We will soon find out.  With potential rain in the forecast Purdue may also need to rely on it’s newfound running game.  Zander Horvath has been the only viable ball carrier thus far this season and he has starred.  Will King Doerue be back this week to provide a change up?  That’s still unclear and appears to be a game time decision.  Horvath has been tremendous so far, but lacks the top end speed a guy like King Doerue has, and there have been some massive holes the Offensive Line has opened this year that I think a guy like King could make a house call through.  Northwestern will be much more disciplined in their front 7, so this will be a real test to see how far the offensive line has come in the offseason.  

This one is going to be tight folks, as it was last year when Aidan O’Connell engineered a late drive to set up a game winning field goal by JD Dellinger.  Special Teams could be the difference in the matchup of two unbeatens today.  Listen folks, if Purdue is able to gut this one out and get the W, Purdue will most likely be ranked for the first time since 2007.  To say this one is a big one would be the understatement of well, the decade.


Radio: Purdue Radio Network


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