Can purdue stop NU?

Andrew Seligman Associated Press
ND Insider

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern would gladly take a win without the overtime. But the Wildcats aren’t complaining.

They head into Saturday’s game against Purdue with a spot in the record book after becoming the first FBS program to play three consecutive overtime games and win them all.

“When you’ve been through overtime before, it makes you more comfortable in that situation,” defensive lineman Joe Graziano said.

The Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) are second in the Big Ten West after winning four in a row. But the past three games are what put them in the record book.

And they looked right at home in OT against Nebraska last week. Clayton Thorson sneaked into the end zone on fourth-and-1 for the go-ahead touchdown. The defense then came up with a sack and pass breakup while preserving a 31-24 victory.

That came on the heels of a wild finish against then-No. 16 Michigan State. Thorson threw a 22-yard touchdown to Flynn Nagel and Nate Hall — with 30 stitches in his left hand — intercepted Brian Lewerke in the end zone to seal a 39-31 win after Graziano stripped the quarterback on that play. A week before that, Thorson scored from the 1 after a 23-yard reception on third down by Justin Jackson to lift the Wildcats over Iowa 17-10 in OT.

Purdue (4-5, 2-4) beat Illinois last week to snap a three-game losing streak. But quarterback David Blough dislocated his right ankle and will miss the rest of the season.

Here are some things to know as Northwestern looks to keep its win streak going against the Boilermakers:

One-Man Show

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm spent most of this season using a two-quarterback rotation. Don’t expect to see it again. With the Boilermakers missing their most experienced starter in Blough, Brohm will turn to the other quarterback, Elijah Sindelar, for the next three games — and perhaps a fourth.

“While he (Sindelar) was disappointed he had not been starting the last couple weeks, he practiced well,” Brohm said. “He’s continued to work hard. I think he’s excited about the opportunity to play.”

Sindelar will be backed up by Jared Sparks, a redshirt freshman who is listed on the depth chart as both a receiver and quarterback.

Milestone In Reach

Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher, Justin Jackson needs 202 yards to join Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the only Big Ten players with four 1,000-yard seasons. Jackson ranks sixth on the conference’s career rushing list with 4,927 yards.

Northwestern running back Justin Jackson scores a touchdown against Nebraska last week. Jackson is 202 yards away from becoming just the second player in Big Ten history with four 1,000 rushing seasons.AP PhotoNati Harnik