Big Ten: The Freshman And Receiver Of The Year Is Rondale Moore

Purdue isn’t always the school that you would expect award-winning players to come from, but this year, they can lay claim to having both the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Receiver of the Year awards. Both of these titles will go to Rondale Moore, who racked up more than a thousand yards receiving in his first season with the Boilermakers and greatly helped their offense with 12 touchdowns over the air and one on the ground.

With the regular season practically over at this point, Moore’s 103 receptions also lead the nation across all conferences and barely edge out other players such as UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who finished the year with 101. Moore’s 1,164 yards put him at tenth in all conferences, but first in the Big Ten, above Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson and his 1,112 yards.

Moore’s influence has been felt in Purdue’s season. While they did finish their regular season 5-4 in the Big Ten Conference, they’re currently on par with both Iowa and Wisconsin in a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten West standings. They also defeated Ohio State in a nationally televised home game, back when the Buckeyes were ranked number two in the nation.

During that game, Moore had one of his most productive nights and finished with 12 receptions and 170 yards, tying his highest number of catches and setting a career high in yards. In the season finale win against rivals Indiana, Moore tied that total of 12 catches and finished the game with 141 yards and 2 touchdowns.

It’s certainly a well deserved award, and going into next season, Moore will definitely be one of the national players to watch. Especially when Purdue has a better idea of their starting quarterback situation going into the start of the season, unlike this year.

Northwestern Defeats Purdue After Sindelar Throws Three Interceptions

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.”

Big Ten: Purdue vs Northwestern Preview & Prediction

Before conference play begins for some of the bigger names in the Big Ten, Northwestern and Purdue will kick things off with an 8:00 PM night game that should be an interesting matchup. These schools are only divided by roughly two and a half hours, and their game on August 30th will take place long before any of the scheduled conference games this year.

Who has the edge in this battle of neighbors?

It’s somewhat hard to judge Northwestern without knowing who will start at quarterback. Clayton Thorson overperformed last year and threw for 2,844 yards, as well as 15 touchdowns, but was injured just as the season was coming to a close. As such, he’s not the guaranteed started on day one despite being the most talented quarterback on the roster.

Either Thorson or T.J. Green will be the starter, but unless Green has made big improvements during this offseason, Thorson is the better player by a decent margin. Green doesn’t have as much experience entering the season, and he hasn’t even received playing time as a backup. Last season, he only played in one game and had five passing yards total.

The two could end up evenly matched at the QB position regardless of who wins the Northwestern job. Purdue has their own quarterback battle, between redshirt senior David Blough and redshirt junior Elijah Sindelar. Both have had their moments, and both received enough time in the spotlight last year to throw for more than 1,000 yards. Sindelar, though, just about doubled Blough’s production.

Purdue could even use each quarterback in different situations. “We know what coach Brohm is thinking, the plays he wants to call and how he wants it to be different if I’m in, if Elijah’s in,” Blough said recently, praising head coach Jeff Brohm’s communication skills.

Brohm hasn’t just gotten the most out of the quarterbacks that he inherited upon joining Purdue. His tenure has also improved the defense, which became one of the top 25 scoring defenses in the country last year after previously ranking closer to the bottom in defensive scoring.

Junior linebacker Markus Bailey returns after some big performances last year, to man them middle of the linebacker group. They also have a clear-cut leader in their secondary, redshirt senior safety Jacob Thieneman. Just like the rest of the Purdue defense, Thieneman had a big improvement last year and finished with 73 tackles compared to 14 from 2016, in addition to two interceptions.

Northwestern’s defense, on the other hand, will have more of an advantage in the trenches and will look for sacks. They bring back reliable pass rushers Joe Gaziano and Samdup Miller, which should give them an advantage over Purdue in the pass rushing department.

Going back to the battle in the trenches, though, you have to consider that Purdue has more running back depth than a Northwestern team that lost top rusher Justin Jackson and may not have a replacement that’s as good. So who pulls out the win in the end? Both teams are around the same level, but it looks like Purdue could win the coaching battle and they also have less uncertainty about their quarterback situation.

They also play at home. It won’t be an easy game by any means, but their home crowd should give them enough energy to boost them to the victory.

Prediction: Purdue defeats Northwestern 31-24