After the Purdue Boilermakers got handled by the Wisconsin Badgers to open up conference play, Purdue continued its tough schedule with a home game against the Northern Illinois Huskies. Never before in the history of Big Ten football had one MAC team beat two Big Ten teams in the same season, and the Huskies had already beaten Iowa. The dignity of the Big Ten was on the line in West Lafayette.
Purdue’s offense turned the ball over five times and the Boilermakers’ defense gave up 41 points en route to a 55-24 home loss to Northern Illinois. The Huskies became the first MAC team to ever beat two Big Ten teams in the same season.
The Boilermakers also surrendered a score on special teams when Tommy Lee Lewis took the second half kickoff 99 yards into the end zone. The Huskies’ defense got in on the scoring party as well, taking a Danny Etling pass 62 yards the other way.
The yards gained on offense for Purdue wasn’t bad. The Boilermakers finished with 524 yards of total offense on 85 plays, averaging 6.2 yards per play. Purdue’s quarterbacks combined to throw for nearly 400 yards, and the team averaged over five yards per rushing attempt.
The big story of the day for the Boilermakers on offense was that Etling replaced senior Rob Henry at quarterback near the end of the first half and played out the rest of the game. It was the first collegiate action for the true freshman, who was the 12th ranked quarterback in his recruiting class coming into Purdue. Etling finished the game 19-of-39 for 241 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
The real negatives for Purdue fans come up when considering the defense, or more appropriately lack thereof. The Boilermakers allowed the Huskies to score on nine of their 14 drives and kept up their streak of allowing at least 400 yards of offense to the opposition. While Purdue was able to recover a fumble, they managed only one sack as Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch dissected the Boilermakers’ defense all day.
This Purdue team has already made history in the wrong way for the Big Ten in non-conference play. If the turnovers on offense and points allowed on defense don’t improve, this team could be historically bad in Big Ten play as well.
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