Purdue-Northwestern: It Was Time for the Boilermakers To Fumble the Game Away

Ryan DietzContributor IOctober 3, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 01:  Brendan Smith #4 of the Northwestern Wildcats celebrates his interception for a touchdown in the final minute of the game with Brian Peters #38, Doug Bartels #64 and Al Netter #75 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the fourth quarter at the Hubert H.Humphrey Metrodome on November 1, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Northwestern won 24-17.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It was about as far from a pretty game as can be. It was nowhere near the Brooklyn Decker of games. 

It seems as though Northwestern beat Purdue, 27-21, because it made fewer mistakes on Saturday.

After Arby Fields fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Purdue subsequently rolled off to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter, it looked as though this was the 2007, 2006, and 2004 Northwestern Wildcats all over again. It still could be, but at Ross-Ade Stadium, Purdue made more mistakes. 

In the course of two minutes to close the half, Northwestern rolled off a touchdown and two field goals to close the gap to 21-16. The Boilermakers clearly lost all the momentum they had built.  

The Wildcats were miserable on third down, converting 10 of 21 plays, after completing four of five on the first drive that resulted in another failure—a field goal. That drive was 78 yards and 20 plays, but it was truly a mistake to only get three there.

In the second half, it seems as though neither team wanted to win. Northwestern rolled down the field methodically and went up 27-21. The Boilers then rolled down the field looking like a win was in their sights, and a third straight last-minute destruction in Northwestern's.

However, it was time for another team to screw up.  

Northwestern got away with one, and although head coach Pat Fitzgerald won't say that, and he'll credit Purdue in his press conference, there isn't a person in that locker room that will be happy with this win.

The defense played better, yes, but it also spotted the Boilermakers 21 points. It created turnovers, yes, but nobody in the purple faithful wants to see a game come down to the last play. Joey Elliott had a wide-open receiver in the back of the end zone but was chased and threw across his body.

Enjoy this one, Wildcats fans, but don't be excited. The Wildcats just had their turn in the line of good luck.