Live-Northwestern vs Purdue Live streaming NCAAF 2018
It is a relatively new phenomenon, but the Big Ten playing conference games in the first week of the season is something we can absolutely get behind, especially when looking at the rest of the opening night’s 12-game college football slate.
The 2018 Big Ten season kicks off Thursday with a West Division battle as Northwestern (10-3, 7-2 in 2017) travels to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Purdue (7-6, 4-5). The Wildcats beat the Boilermakers 23-13 in Evanston, Illinois, last season to give Northwestern four straight wins over Purdue, six in the seven meetings since 2008.
Date: Thursday, Aug. 30 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Ross-Ade Stadium — West Lafayette, Indiana
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Purdue: The Boilermakers took a major step forward last year in their first season under Jeff Brohm. After going 9-33 in four seasons under Darrell Hazell, Purdue went bowling last year, its first trip to a bowl game since the 2012 season. So what will he do for an encore? Well, it might be best to temper expectations a bit. This is a Purdue team that has most of its offense back but returns only four starters on defense. While the offense was the star of the show last year, it was Purdue’s defense that took it from a Big Ten afterthought to a bowl team. Opening the season with a tough Big Ten opponent will be quite the test for an unproven unit.
Northwestern: Nobody can question the job Pat Fitzgerald has done at Northwestern, but 2018 may be one of his biggest challenges. First, the Wildcats must replace workhorse Justin Jackson. The running back started the past four seasons and was the focal point of the offense. Whenever things bogged down, Northwestern could rely on Jackson to hammer away at the defense. It won’t be easy to replace the guy who touched the ball on a third of Northwestern’s plays the last four seasons.
Then there’s the situation at quarterback. Clayton Thorson enters his senior season with a knee injury. He tore his ACL in Northwestern’s bowl game last year, and there are questions about how recovered his knee is entering the season. It still isn’t known whether or not he’ll be playing against Purdue, and even if he does, nobody knows if he’ll be 100 percent or not. It’s a difficult situation for Northwestern to be in during the first week of the season.
Game prediction, pick
It’s never easy picking a game in the first week of the season, and it’s more difficult when you’re picking a conference game between two teams with so many question marks. If I knew that Thorson was healthy and starting, I’d take Northwestern, but without that knowledge. its hard to go against the Purdue at home here. Pick: Purdue -2.5