EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern looks to snap a seven-game losing streak when it hosts non-conference foe Massachusetts on Saturday. The Wildcats narrowly missed getting a win last weekend, falling 24-22 to Purdue, while the Minutemen dropped their fifth straight last weekend, 62-7 at Army.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Northwestern -40.5
Massachusetts has struggled just to stay in games over its current losing streak, allowing 58.8 points per game over that span. Northwestern's offense has been its problem, as it has a total of 73 points over its current skid. Junior quarterback Aidan Smith set career highs for completions, passing yards and touchdowns in the loss to Purdue, finishing 19-of-31 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Kyric McGowan had a career-high 146 yards rushing on just 17 carries, including a 79-yard touchdown, before leaving last week's game with an injury, with coach Pat Fitzgerald calling him out indefinitely.
ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS (1-9)
One of the biggest problems for Massachusetts at this point of the season is depth, as coach Walt Bell stated after the loss to Army that he felt his team was just worn down by the end. The Minutemen have just three healthy safeties and three healthy cornerbacks heading into the Northwestern contest, so while the team is able to hang on defensively for a while, it eventually has trouble keeping up. Army was up just 14-7 after the first quarter last weekend but scored at least 14 points in each of the last three quarters to eventually pull away.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (1-8)
Saturday could be Smith’s coming-out party, or at least the coming-out party of the Northwestern passing attack. With running backs going down left and right, Fitzgerald may take the opportunity to get the ball in the air more, especially with so many receivers playing well and Smith looking more comfortable throwing the ball. Three players -- Riley Lees (62 yards), Berkeley Holman (53) and Jace James (41) -- set career standards for receiving yards in the loss to Purdue.
1. Northwestern DE Joe Gaziano is half a sack from tying Casey Dailey's program record for career sacks with 28.
2. Wildcats CB Cam Ruiz recorded a career-high nine solo tackles and his first career interception in the loss to Purdue.
3. Northwestern's current seven-game losing streak ties for the longest since the 1998 team lost eight straight.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 42, Massachusetts 6