Northwestern still has an slim chance of playing in the Big Ten Championship Game but not if the Wildcats lose at home to Purdue on Saturday. Let's review the college football odds first.
Boilers Revert To Old Ways
Purdue (2-7, 1-4) won its first-ever Big Ten home game under embattled coach Darrell Hazell on Halloween against Nebraska, but the Boilermakers were back to their usual terrible selves this past Saturday in a 48-14 loss at home to Illinois. The Illini were up 27-7 at the half and already had 295 yards of offense and 17 first downs. Purdue finished with 263 total yards. Redshirt freshman QB David Blough was 29-for-47 for 174 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed for a score. Markell Jones rushed 14 times for 84 yards. The Boilers played with little energy in the game.
There were reports last week that Purdue was surprisingly going to bring Hazell back for 2016. The coach was asked whether he would return by the local media and said this Monday: “We have not had those conversations. I’m not sure which media started that but (athletic director) Morgan (Burke) and I will talk after the season."
Hazell signed a six-year contract when hired in 2013 and his buyout is a whopping $6.7 million on Dec. 1. Hazell is 6-27 at Purdue with three of those wins against FCS programs.
If Saturday's game comes down to a field goal, it probably doesn't benefit Purdue. The Boilermakers have yet to attempt their first field goal of Big Ten play. That seems impossible. Kicker Paul Griggs is 3-for-8 overall on the season and 1-for-5 from 30 yards or longer. Purdue is 4-5 against the spread on college football odds this season and 5-4 'over/under.'
Wildcats Eyeing Rare 10-Win Season
Northwestern (7-2, 3-2) returned to the Associated Press Top 25 with a 23-21 win over Penn State last Saturday. Jack Mitchell kicked the winning 35-yard field goal with nine seconds left. Solomon Vault had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his second this season returned for a score. The Wildcats held Penn State to nine total yards on the Nittany Lions' first four drives of the game and led 20-7 at halftime.
Justin Jackson rushed 28 times for a career-high 186 yards for the Wildcats. They outrushed Penn State 227-125 and are 7-0 this season when outgaining their opponents on the ground. The Wildcats are 6-0 this season when winning the turnover battle and are 40-14 under Coach Pat Fitzgerald.
NU starting quarterback Clayton Thorson was 5-for-8 for 58 yards before leaving late in the first quarter after he was hit by a Penn State pass rusher and knocked backward. The Wildcats are calling it lower-body injury, but believe Thorson will start vs. Purdue. Senior Zack Oliver replaced Thorson and went 11-for-24 for 111 yards a touchdown and pick while rushing for a touchdown. NU could be without starting guard Geoff Mogus and linebacker Jaylen Prater, however.
Northwestern is two games behind first-place Iowa in the Big Ten West so the Cats would need to win out and have Iowa lose out to win the division. It's very unlikely the Hawkeyes do that. NU is 6-3 ATS on college football picks this season and 4-5 O/U.
Northwestern won in West Lafayette 38-14 last season, the Wildcats' final victory of the year as they came up one win shy of bowl eligibility. The Boilers turned it over five times and NU linebacker Jimmy Hall set up 14 points with an interception and fumble recovery. Then-Wildcats starting QB Trevor Siemian left in the second quarter with a knee injury. Northwestern's Jackson finished with 23 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Appleby was 26-for-28 for 251 yards with two touchdowns and two picks for the Boilers. Purdue won 20-17 the last time the two teams met in Evanston back in 2010. The Boilermakers have won seven of the last 10 meetings, and 12 of the last 16, in Evanston. Purdue is looking for its first win over a ranked team since beating No. 23 Illinois in 2011. Purdue has faced a ranked Northwestern team four times previously and the Boilers are 2-2.
Give the points, go 'Under' the total. Purdue has failed to cover its past six November games. NU is 4-1 ATS in its past five against teams with a losing record. The 'under' is 8-2 in the past 10 meetings. The 'under' is 23-8 in Northwestern's past 31 home games.
College Football Picks: Northwestern -14.5 & Under 49 at Bet365