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September 26, 2013

Matchup Preview: Purdue-Northern Illinois





GoldandBlack.com breaks down how Purdue and Northern Illinois might match up Saturday afternoon in Ross-Ade Stadium as the Boilermakers close their non-conference schedule.

When Purdue's running ...

Tough call here because neither team has been particularly good. Northern Illinois, replacing more than half its defensive starters from last season, gave up 200-plus yards on the ground at Iowa. Purdue, meanwhile, hasn't been able to get much of anything done in the running game, to the detriment of its entire offense. This should be a much better matchup for Purdue's front than it's faced the past two weekends, though. Will it matter?

Advantage: Even

When Purdue's passing ...


Make no mistake: Northern Illinois is vulnerable. But Purdue struggled so much in the passing game at Wisconsin that it's really difficult to give it the checkmark here. Nothing went right at Wisconsin in this phase, a week after it was pretty good against Notre Dame. It is entirely possible that Wisconsin was a matchup-driven aberration and the ND game is closer to reality, but Purdue has to prove that to be the case against a D that gave up 450 passing yards and six TD throws to an FCS team, albeit a good one, last time out.

Advantage: Northern Illinois (slight)

When Northern Illinois is running ...


You saw that tackling last week, right? Northern Illinois' offense and personnel are very different than Wisconsin's, but quarterback Jordan Lynch might be equally threatening. He is fast and physical. Purdue struggled badly a week ago with fast and physical.

Advantage: Northern Illinois (decided)

When Northern Illinois is passing ...


Under normal circumstances we might give the edge to Purdue here no matter how threatening Lynch can be to any defense. But the rub here is how banged up Purdue is in its secondary, with seemingly everybody dealing with some sort of ailment. Purdue might very well have all of its guys out there Saturday, but it remains to be seen what kind of shape they'll be in. The bye week can't come soon enough for the defensive backfield.

Advantage: Northern Illinois (slight)

Special teams

Northern Illinois has a fantastic kicker in Mathew Sims, but Purdue has been solid on special teams as well. Needs to get more touchbacks on kickoffs, though.

Advantage: Purdue (slight)

Intangibles

Last time Purdue played in Ross-Ade Stadium, it played well enough to beat Notre Dame. … Northern Illinois has turned the ball over eight times in three games. … The Boilermaker coaching knows NIU well after many of its coaches faced the Huskies last year in the postseason.







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