EVANSTON, Ill. – Purdue looks to overcome the loss of another starting quarterback when it visits Northwestern on Saturday. Elijah Sindelar went down with a knee injury on Sept. 28 before Jack Plummer suffered a broken ankle in the 31-27 win over Nebraska in Week 10. Next, walk-on Aidan O'Connell will be tasked with keeping the Boilermakers' slim chances of reaching bowl eligibility alive by leading them to their first win against the Wildcats since 2010.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Northwestern -1.5
"He's a guy that I think can execute the offense," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm told reporters. "We've got to play to his strengths and help him get into rhythm and get completions." Northwestern is left to pick up the pieces following a 34-3 loss to Indiana. The defending Big Ten West Division champions are off to their worst start since 1989 after dropping six consecutive games, including their last three by a combined 106-6, and hope to stop the bleeding by knocking off Purdue for the sixth consecutive time. "We'll get this thing turned around as I have a track record of winning football games," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. "I'm focused on winning these next four games but I promise you we'll be back."
ABOUT PURDUE (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten):
Plummer completed 25-of-34 passes for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns before getting hurt with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and is likely to miss the rest of the campaign. O’Connell went 6-of-7 for 62 yards and engineered the Boilermakers’ game-winning drive, which culminated in a nine-yard touchdown run by David Bell with 1:08 remaining. King Doerue was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after accounting for 102 total yards and a pair of touchdowns.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (1-7, 0-6):
Aiden Smith was limited to 47 yards on 5-of-12 passing in the loss to Indiana as the Wildcats were held to 199 yards of total offense. Hunter Johnson threw for 65 yards in his first game since Sept. 28 before suffering a suspected lower body injury in the third quarter and is questionable for Saturday’s clash. Cornerback Greg Newsome and defensive lineman Samdup Miller will miss the rest of the year after suffering unspecified injuries against the Hoosiers while running back Isaiah Bowser will be sidelined for the second straight week with a knee problem.
1. The Wildcats have been held without a touchdown in three straight games.
2. Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins is ranked second nationally in receptions by a tight end (42).
3. Northwestern DE Joe Gaziano has recorded at least one TFL in four straight games, which is the longest streak of his career.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 13, Purdue 10