The Purdue Boilermakers have lost three of their first four games, and despite hosting their last non-conference game of the season this Saturday, it will push their losing streak to three in a row and four of the last five.
The Northern Illinois Huskies come into West Lafayette this Saturday and bring with them a talented offense led by quarterback Jordan Lynch. The Huskies are 3-0 overall and have already beaten Big Ten team Iowa on the road. Going into West Lafayette and beating this Purdue team will be no problem for Northern Illinois.
The hope to be able to keep up with the Huskies on offense are slim. Through four games, the Boilermakers are averaging just 15.3 points and just over 245 yards of total offense. The running game has been atrocious, averaging just 2.6 yards a carry. Quarterback Rob Henry and the passing game haven’t been much better, with a completion percentage of just over 56 percent and four interceptions to only three touchdowns.
The best hope for the Boilermakers on offense is to somehow interject that running game with some life, grind the clock and keep Lynch and the Huskies offense on the sideline. The Northern Illinois run defense isn’t listed in the top 50 in that category, so creating holes for running back Akeem Hunt could be possible for Purdue.
Even if the Boilermakers finally get their running game going, they will still have to play better defense. The Purdue defense has been better at home than on the road, allowing 22.5 points per game at home compared to 41.5 points per game on the road, but one of those home games was against FCS Indiana State. They now face a Huskies offense that has ranks 11th in FBS in rushing yards per game with 295.3 yards per game average.
Getting the Huskies on offense to third down will be huge for Purdue. Northern Illinois is only converting 36 percent of their third downs. In order to do that, once again, Purdue will have to execute in a way that it hasn’t to this point. The Boilermakers have let their opponents convert 48 percent of third downs this season.
All the numbers and prognostication methods are pointing toward the Boilermakers going to 1-4 this Saturday. If the Boilermakers can run the football effectively and play solid defense on first and second downs, they might be able to defy those odds. Doing those two things will take an effort this team hasn’t yet displayed.
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