The first Big Ten game of the season happened on Thursday night, when Northwestern traveled about two and a half hours south to face Big Ten West foes Purdue. The game was close fought, but the Wildcats would be the one to come out with the victory. That doesn’t mean that the result was clear-cut, though. Between both teams, four quarterbacks received playing time, and Purdue had both some highs and some lows over the course of the game.
How did Northwestern steal the road win?
Clayton Thorson is the man at Northwestern. That wasn’t clear heading into the game, but Thorson started and had the most passing attempts, with 26. He also managed to complete 58% of his passes, and threw for 172 yards. Despite Thorson starting, however, T.J. Green entered the game off the bench at one point and had the only touchdown.
That touchdown didn’t come via Green’s arm, however. A one yard run gave him the score, and Green’s yard total came to 63. Not quite the numbers that Thorson, who was the undisputed number one before his injury at the end of last year, was able to put up. Then again, Green had less attempts to work with. He only threw 11 passes compared to Thorson’s 26.
The position players were the stars of the game, though. Three of Northwestern’s touchdowns came from the running backs, and on the Purdue side, Rondale Moore was a standout. Moore is a true freshman, and despite having a slow start where he had a couple of drops, he had his first big reception in the first quarter and didn’t look back. Moore wasn’t just a threat in the passing game, either.
He only had two rushes, but one of them was a 76 yard touchdown that brought the crowd to their feet near the end of the first quarter. That’s not to say that Moore wasn’t one of the top players in the receiving game, though. His eleven catches led the game, as did his 109 yards and one receiving touchdown.
Purdue was within grasp of the win, but in the end, it was their quarterback performance that gave Northwestern the win. Elijah Sindelar played more of the snaps rather than David Blough, but had three first half interceptions compared to his one touchdown. His QBR was only 28.0, compared to 58.1 from Blough. That, combined with the pair of touchdowns on the ground from Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin, gave the Wildcats the win.
“We’ve got to figure out what gives us the best chance to win. I think both guys will respond and be ready to go,” said Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, on the subject of who will be the starting quarterback. He decided against making an immediate decision in reaction to the result, claiming that the call hadn’t been made yet.
Sindelar had one of the quotes that sums up the situation the best. “At the end of the day, this is Purdue football and if we win, then we both win. Regardless of if he’s in the game or I’m in the game, like if I get pulled out, that’s my chance to be a leader and a captain and show the guys that I am a teammate and I am going to be there at the end of the day to help him. It’s not about jealousy.”