Purdon't get me started on this Ralph guy

Peronal note: I'll actually be visiting some family in California this weekend.  Yay for 9 AM Pacific time MAC-Big 10 football on Saturday!

Home Cookin'

Huskie QB Chandler Harnish and friends will be enjoying a homecoming of sorts as they travel to their home states of Indiana, and he feels spited:

"I was heavily recruited by [Purdue], and that's the school I felt like I was going to my whole high school career," Harnish said. "It just fell through and Northern gave me the opportunity and I don't regret it at all.

"I was just that second-tier type athlete. I think they had offered a couple quarterbacks previously and they accepted their offers."

He knows not to get too amped up and try to do too much though:

"One thing that can be dangerous with that is I can go out and try to do too much and that can hurt our team," he said. "I really need to focus in and do my part and lead our guys and just keep moving our offense."

#12 has a lot of friends coming that may be a bit divided come gameday:

“I talked to my mom (Tuesday) morning, and she’s like, ‘I don’t mean to scare you, but we’ll probably have anywhere between 300 and 400 people, family and friends,

“It’s kind of a cool thing because most people are Purdue fans, but at the same time, they’re Chandler fans, too,” he said. “So their loyalty obviously is going to be split. I think they’d like to see me do well, but deep down they probably want Purdue to do well also.”

Other guys making a home trip (per the gamenotes):

Homeward Bound
Seven of the eight Indiana natives on the Northern Illinois roster have played key roles for the Huskies in 2009 with four of those in starting positions. The starting Huskie "hoosiers" are quarterback Chandler Harnish (Bluffton, Ind./Norwell HS), offensive guard Jason Onyebuagu (Indianapolis/Warren Central HS), tailback Chad Spann (Indianapolis/North Central HS) and receiver Nathan Palmer (Elkhart, Ind./Central). Defensively, linebacker Spencer Williamson (Elkhart, Ind./Central) and lineman Ron Newcomb (Wheatfield, Ind./Chicago Mt. Carmel) are contributing in reserve roles and on special teams, while Evansville running back Ricky Crider (Reitz HS) is coming back after missing most of preseason with a hamstring injury. While the Purdue roster features four players from Indianapolis, three from Evansville and one from Bluffton, only Palmer will meet a former teammate (Purdue center Jared Zwilling) across the field.

Trap Game

ND is next week.  In some sort of quasi-pseudo way, Michigan beating Notre Dame on Saturday may have actually hurt our chances against Purdue.  Sure the Purdue players still want to beat one of their bitter rivals, but the aura of the Golden Domers has diminished whereas the Boilermakers' trip up to Ann Arbor looks that much tougher down the road.

Even though their coaches and everybody is denying this fully, you have to think that this team will either be hungover from their trip to Eugene, OR or be looking ahead.  Or both.

Purdue on O

This isn't your Purdue team of old, as Danny Hope's crew is having a time this year moving the ball on the ground.  Gone is the strict basketball on grass with multiple sets being brought in to the offensive gameplans for the Boilermakers.  They tend to get the ball out quickly a lot of the time with 3-step drops, while receivers and backs run a lot of bubble screens and short routes that can turn in to longer gains.  A lot like Northern Illinois, Purdue is very inexperienced but talented at the skill positions.  One thing they must do to improve early on is their negative turnover ratio if they want to consistently win more games.

QB 14 Joey Elliott , 5th, 6-2, 216 - First year starting, despite being around for 5 years.  Has more INTs (5) than TDs (4).

RB 23 Ralph Bolden, So., 5-9, 194 - Surprise leading rusher in the nation with 357 yds and 4 TDs off only 30 carries (7.1 ypc).

“He’s got that good second-level speed to him,” [MLB Pat] Schiller said. “He’s able to break away. We haven’t really seen a back like him. We’ve seen bigger backs, kind of more of the bruiser backs, but as far as Bolden, he’s able to really hit the hole and hit it strong.”

WR 8 Keith Smith, Jr., 6-2, 226 - Big play-threat averaging 15.4 yards per catch right now.

WR 17 Aaron Valentin, 5th, 6-1, 205 - Possession guy, had 8 receptions in the Oregon game.

OL - Averages 6'6" 303.  A step down from Wisconsin obviously, but still a very solid and experienced group of guys.

With a young offense, Purdue might just decide to dink and dunk against the Huskies just like they have been doing:

"The percentages of completion on the long ball aren’t quite as high as they are on a short ball," Hope said. "We’ve been playing higher percentage football. Trying to keep the offense going, getting in rhythm, keeping the experience offensively and having positive plays. There is a huge arsenal there that can happen."

Purdue on D

The defense was supposed to be the strong point of the season this year for Purdue, but it is currently taking a backseat to the offense.  They have had to take on two very explosive offenses in both Toledo and Oregon in Eugene.  Their scoring defense is a bit exaggerated because of some turnovers by the offense, but overall they place 100th in the nation giving up 424.5 yards per game.  I believe they're a very aggressive group of players that may bite too hard on play fakes, so there's something to take full advantage of on the Huskie side of the ball.  Their secondary is a little banged up and is lacking a lot of depth right now too, but the guys at the top have a good amount of talent.

DT 92 Mike Neal, 5th, 6-4, 302 - Says his max bench is 510, but could do more if he tried.  Good lord.

24 Jason Werner, 5th, 6-4, 221 - Leads team with 19 tackles, 4 tfl & 1 sack.

FS 2 Torri Williams, 6th, 6-2, 208 - 12 tackles & 1 PBU this year.

CB 9 David Pender, Sr., 6-1, 175 - 12 tackles & 2 PBU already this year.

Injury report

Probable to questionable for Purdue:

DB Brandon King: deep thigh bruise.  He missed the Oregon game, but had 10 tackles against Toledo.

With King out, Torri Williams started against the Ducks at corner instead of his usual safety spot, with Josh McKinley starting at safety.

To bolster the Boilermakers' depth in the secondary, Royce Adams moved back to cornerback, after he had converted to wide receiver in the spring. Adams' situation on Saturday could be contingent on King's availability. Also, freshman Xavier Reese, who has yet to play, has at least temporarily shifted to the secondary from receiver.

For NIU:

David Bryant will play Saturday (sprained ankle)

"We held him out last week. We didn’t have to," Kill said. "But we talked before the game and said if we could get going in the game we would try and let him heal up to where he was 100 percent instead of 90 percent.

So that's why we saw Pat McAvoy in the last game

Fullback Connor Flahive (back injury) should be ready to go for Purdue.

Prediction

I haven't had much time to look at what Purdue has been able to do, but I've been fairly impressed both offensively and defensively.  I just feel like NIU has proved a little bit more on the defensive side of the ball, while still maintaining their strong offensive gameplan.  Northern Illinois will try to rush the ball all game long against the 'makers, hopefully resulting in rest for our defense and making sure that the dangerous offense for Purdue is on the sidelines more often than not.  We have to control the clock and not make mistakes such as turnovers or giving up the big pay on defense.  And put somebody, anybody on Ralph Bolden at all times.  That being said...

Huskies 35, Boilermakers 26

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