Sept. 28, 2009
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Purdue vs. Northwestern Series Information
Series record: Purdue leads 49-26-1 (First meeting: 1895 / Last meeting: 2008)
Purdue points: 1,625
Northwestern points: 1,092
Series record in West Lafayette: Purdue leads 22-9
at Ross-Ade Stadium: Purdue leads 20-5
Series record in Evanston: Purdue leads 26-17-1
at Ryan Field: Purdue leads 20-13-1
Games decided by 3 points or less: Purdue leads 8-3
Games decided by 7 points or less: Purdue leads 14-9
Longest Purdue win streak: 12 (1976-1987)
Longest Northwestern win streak: 4 (1945-1950)
Current streak: Northwestern won the last meeting
Largest Purdue victory: 49-7 in 1984
Largest Northwestern victory: 38-6 in 1916
Last Purdue home victory: 2007
Last Purdue road victory: 2006
Last Northwestern home victory: 2008
Last Northwestern road win: 2005
SOME GAME THEMES
It's Homecoming in West Lafayette ... The Boilermakers become the final Big Ten team open conference play when they host Northwestern at Ross-Ade Stadium ... How will Purdue respond after dropping three consecutive games by a combined 12 points ... Boiler running back Ralph Bolden (122.0 yards per game) vs. the Northwestern rush defense (132.0 yards per game) ... NU QB Mike Kafka (264.0 yards of total offense) vs. Purdue's pass defense (244.0 yards per game).
THIS DATE IN BOILERMAKER FOOTBALL HISTORY
Purdue is 7-8 all-time on Oct. 3 ... The have been a couple of memorable team and individual performances on this date, including a 26-14 upset over No. 3 Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1970 and a record-setting performance by Drew Brees in 1998 ... Highlighted by a 120-yard rushing day by Otis Armstrong, two rushing scores by Stan Brown and one by Chuck Piebes, the 1970 Boilermakers went to the Farm and stunned quarterback Jim Plunkett and the Cardinal in Stanford Stadium. The `70 Boilers went on to finish the season 4-6 overall, with the Stanford win coming as the biggest upset ... In 1998, Brees was nearly perfect in a 56-21 win over visiting Minnesota on Oct. 3. The sophomore signal caller set Purdue standards for completion percentage (30-39 attempts), passing yards and touchdowns in the blowout win. Brees finished the game 31 for 36 for a then-Purdue record 522 yards and six touchdowns. His completion percentage of .861 still stands as the high-water mark, while his passing yardage was surpassed by Curtis Painter's 546 against Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl and his passing touchdown record was matched by himself vs. Northwestern later in 1998, Kyle Orton against Indiana in 2004 and Painter against Eastern Illinois in 2007.
BIG TEN OPENERS
The Boilermakers have put the non-conference slate behind them for the regular season and will open their 114th Big Ten campaign this weekend against Northwestern ... Dating to 1896, Purdue owns a 45-63-5 record in its opening Big Ten game ... The Boilermakers have won 10 of their 12 previous conference openers dating back to 1997, and are 7-1 in Big Ten openers at home during that same time frame ... Both charter members of the Big Ten Conference, Purdue has opened league play against Northwestern 13 times previous to this season and own a 9-4 record against the Wildcats when doing so.
HE HAS A HISTORY WITH SUCH THINGS
Including this season, Purdue head coach Danny Hope is no stranger to playing tough non-league schedules, nor does the importance of conference play elude him. At his previous stop as head coach, Eastern Kentucky, Hope would traditionally schedule an out of conference slate stocked with FBS schools and the top FCS non-league competition to prepare for Ohio Valley Conference play. While taking his lumps out of league, Hope's Colonels turned it around in OVC play in each of his five seasons at the helm.
Eastern Kentucky Non-Conference vs. Ohio Valley Conference Records under Hope Year Overall Non-Conference Ohio Valley Conference 2003 7-5 1-3 6-2 2004 6-5 0-3 6-2 2005 7-4 0-3 7-1 2006 6-5 1-2 5-3 2007 9-3 1-2 8-0
WELCOME BACK HOME
Saturday marks the 87th-annual Homecoming game at Purdue and the Boilers will tee it up against the school that played in the inaugural return to campus contest way back in 1921, Northwestern ... The Boilermakers are 48-34-4 all-time in Homecoming games and have won nine out of the last 12 ... Purdue defeated Northwestern 3-0 in the first-ever Homecoming game in 1921 and is 10-3 against the Wildcats in 13 all-time Purdue Homecoming meetings, although the Cats upended Purdue 34-29 in the 2005 Homecoming game in West Lafayette ... Only Illinois (17 games) has been a more common opponent on Homecoming weekend than Northwestern in school history (also 13 all-time games with Iowa).
The Boilermakers own the 44th-ranked rushing (176.5) and passing (244.5) offenses in the nation this week. However, when you combine the two together one finds that Purdue is ranked 32nd in the country and fourth in the Big Ten in total offense (421.0).
Northwestern's Mike Kafka (262.2) and Purdue's Joey Elliott (240.8) head into Saturday's clash ranked 1-2 in the Big Ten in average passing yardage ... The pair is also first and second, respectively, in total offense (264.0 vs. 259.2) ... Boiler running back Ralph Bolden still owns the top spot in the conference and is seventh nationally for average rushing yards per game (122.0) and is the lone Big Ten back to average over 100 yards per game. He also second in the Big Ten to teammate Aaron Valentin and 22nd nationally in average all-purpose yardage (266.3) ... Wide receiver Keith Smith's 11 catches against Notre Dame last Saturday vaulted him to second in the Big Ten and into a tie for 14th nationally in receptions per game (7.0), and his 89.5 yards per game average is third in league play and tied for 29th among all FBS players ... Wide receiver/kick returner Aaron Valentin leads Big Ten players in both punt return average (15.3) and average all-purpose yardage (162.8). The senior is 20th nationally in returning punts and 16th in all-purpose yards.
BIG TEN TOPPERS
Heading into the fifth week of the year, Ralph Bolden owns the top game performances in the Big Ten this season in touchdowns (3 at Oregon), rushing yards (234 vs. Toledo) and all-purpose yards (247 vs. Toledo) ... Wide receiver Keith Smith's 11 receptions against Notre Dame were the most by a conference wide receiver this season ... Carson Wiggs' 59-yard field goal remains the longest in the Big Ten and the nation this year ... His seven PATs against Toledo are the most by a kicker in the league ... Aaron Valentin's 62-yard punt return for a score against Northern Illinois is the longest in the Big Ten thus far and his 24.5 punt return average against Notre Dame also tops the list ... Jason Werner's two sacks against Notre Dame are tied for the most by an individual Big Ten player ... As a team, Purdue's 52 points against Toledo are still the high-water mark for the Big Ten this season, as are the 86 total offensive plays run at Oregon.
OFF AND RUNNING
Sophomore Ralph Bolden's 488 yards rushing on 79 carries this season just barely (as in one yard) remains the best start to a year by any Boiler running back in school history. Purdue's all-time leading rusher, Mike Alstott, had his best four-game effort to start a season in his senior year of 1995 when he put together 487 yards on 80 carries against West Virginia (17-109), Notre Dame (21-115), Michigan State (20-136, 1 TD) and Ball State (22-127, 1 TD). Kory Sheets, who finished his Purdue career in 2008 as the program's second-best rusher all-time, had 440 yards on 75 carries against Northern Colorado (16-81, 2 TD), Oregon (29-180, 2 TD), Central Michigan (17-91, 2 TD) and Notre Dame (13-87, 1 TD) to open last year. Finally, Otis Armstrong, who falls just behind Alstott and Sheets on the all-time Purdue rushing record list, had 348 yards rushing on 84 attempts in the first four games of the 1971 campaign - his junior year - against Washington (19-121, 1 TD), Notre Dame (29-84), Iowa (13-60, TD) and Minnesota (23-83). If Ralph is to extend the best start at Purdue for a fifth straight week, he will need to rush for 133 yards against Northwestern this weekend to pass Alstott's five-game total of 620 yards on 108 carries in 1995.
LAST WEEK - NOTRE DAME SNIDBITS
Just the sixth game played at night in the history of Ross-Ade Stadium (since 1924) ... The Boilermakers wore all black uniforms for the first time since 2006 (against Wisconsin) ... The Boilermakers dropped to 3-8 against Notre Dame in games decided by three points or less and 9-10 in contests decided by seven or less ... Purdue threw for a season-high 289 yards ... The four sacks posted by Purdue was a season-high ... David Pender's interception in the second quarter was his first of the year and the third of his career. It was the first interception of the season thrown by Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen ... Wide receiver Keith Smith (11-136, TD) turned in his second career game with double digit receptions and his third career 100-yard contest. The 136 yards receiving was a career-high ... Quarterback Joey Elliott posted a career-high 289 yards passing and threw a personal-best three touchdown scores. It was his third career game with over 200 yards passing ... The 38-yard touchdown pass to Jaycen Taylor in the fourth quarter was the longest throw in Elliott's career. It was Taylor's second career touchdown reception (also vs. Minnesota in 2006) ... Aaron Valentin's 36-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his second of the season and the fourth of his career ... Valentin's 31-yard punt return was his fourth of 30 or more yards this season ... Royce Adams hauled in his first career reception in the fourth quarter to help the Boilermakers convert a key third down ... Jason Werner recorded a career-high two sacks, they were third and fourth of his career. Gerald Gooden and Ryan Kerrigan also added their second sacks of the season, the fourth and 10th of their respective careers ... Dwight Mclean tallied a career-high 10 total tackles, including a personal-best seven solo stops.
Ralph Bolden's 26-yard run against Notre Dame last weekend was the seventh rush by a Boilermaker this season of 20 or more yards. Last year Purdue finished the 12-game season with 11 rushes for 20-plus yards.
MAKE IT SNAPPY
The Boilermakers had possession of the ball for just 18:20 against Northern Illinois on Sept. 19 but still managed to post 21 points against the Huskies. Aided by a 62-yard punt return by Aaron Valentin that took 19 seconds and a 19-second 58-yard touchdown run by Joey Elliott, the Boilers took advantage of their limited time with the ball. Purdue's other scoring drive, an 11-play, 80-yard drive, took up 3:33 on the game clock. The 18:20 time of possession against NIU was the lowest for Purdue since the Boilers held the ball for just 17:36 in a 21-19 win over Rice on Sept.. 12, 1998.
A LITTLE SLIGHT OF HAND
Head coach Danny Hope, offensive coordinator Gary Nord and quarterback Joey Elliott showed a little bit of trickeration at Oregon on Sept. 12. On the advice of Elliott, the Boilers called on former quarterback Keith Smith to take a hand off and pull up to pass. With just 1:01 left on the clock in the game, Smith fired a 15-yard scoring strike to fellow receiver Aaron Valentin to nearly rally the Boilermakers to a victory over the Ducks. A narrowly missed two-point conversion is all that kept Purdue from tying the game late and possibly forcing overtime. The last time Purdue had a non-quarterback throw a touchdown pass in a contest came in 2006 when wide receiver Desmond Tardy found tight end Kyle Adams on a 25-yard throw-and-catch for a score at Hawaii on Nov. 25. Tardy and quarterback Curtis Painter hooked up for a 18-yard non-scoring play last season against Indiana.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Northwestern heads to West Lafayette 2-2 overall and 0-1 Big Ten ... The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Minnesota ... As a team NU is averaging 33 points, 130.5 rushing yards and 286.2 passing yards per game ... Individually, quarterback Mike Kafka has thrown for 1,049 yards and five TDs while completing 72.2 percent of his passes ... Zeke Markshausen has been the favord target in the passing game, hauling in 19 passes for 224 yards ... running back Stephen Simmons has rushed for 140 yards on 31 carries in only two games played ... Defensively, the Cats are allowing 27.5 points, 132.0 yards rushing and 205.0 yards passing per game ... Individually, Quetin Davie has 30 tackles, while teammate Brenden Smith nips at his heals with 29 total stops ... Ben Johnson has returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown this season ... head coach Pat Fitzgerald is in fourth season at Northwesten and has posted a 21-20 overall record in Evanston.
ALL ON MY OWN
Linebacker Jason Werner leads the Boilermakers with 34 total tackles this season, 28 of which are solo stops. However, Werner's not the only one tackling in space, for the season 196 of Purdue's 286 tackles are solo stops (69 percent).
Not the mythical creature from the Pacific Northwest, but rather the right foot of Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs. The sophomore booted the longest field goal in school history (59 yards) as time expired in the first half of the Boilermakers' season opener against Toledo. Wiggs' kick equaled the Ross-Ade Stadium record and tied for the seventh-longest in Big Ten history. Four weeks into the season, it remains the longest field goal in the nation among FBS kickers.
Longest Field Goals in Big Ten History
63 Yards - Morten Anderson, Michigan State at Ohio State 9/19/1981
62 Yards - Pat O'Dea, Wisconsin vs. Northwestern 10/14/1899 (drop kick)
62 Yards - Chip Lohmiller, Minnesota vs. Iowa 11/22/1986
61 Yards - Ralf Mojsiejenko, Michigan State at Illinois 9/11/1982
60 Yards - Pat O'Dea, Wisconsin at Minnesota 11/18/1899 (drop kick)
60 Yards - John Hall, Wisconsin vs. Minnesota 10/1/1983
59 Yards - Tom Skladany, Ohio State at Illinois 11/8/1975 (place kick)
59 Yards - Ralf Mojsiejenko, Michigan State at Purdue 10/1/1983
59 Yards - Carson Wiggs, Purdue vs. Toledo 9/5/2009
A NOSE FOR THE BALL
Senior cornerback David Pender has a knack for knocking down the opposition's passing attack. With a PBU against Notre Dame on Sept. 26, Pender increased his career total 26, a figure that moves the him into the top 10 all-time in Purdue history. Pender needs nine more PBUs to tie Steve Jackson (35 from 1987-90) for the top spot in the Purdue record book.
All of Carson Wiggs' field goal attempts this season have come as time expired in the first half (makes from 59- and 23 yards; miss from 60 yards) ... Heading into the fifth week of the season, senior Chris Summers is 30th nationally in punting. The Ray Guy Award nominee has booted 19 punts, including six over 50 yards, is averaging 42.8 yards per kick and has placed five inside the opposition's 20-yard line.
Zach Jones has started 28 straight starts at offensive tackle, sophomore linebacker Joe Holland has started all 16 games of his young Purdue career and junior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan has started 15 consecutive games after missing the first game last season due to an ankle injury.
ODDS AND ENDS
Purdue is 11 of 12 inside the red zone (10 touchdowns, one field goal) ... Running back Ralph Bolden and wide receiver Keith Smith have accounted for 56 percent of Purdue's first downs this season (44 of 79) ... The Boilermakers are 4 for 6 on 3-and-10 this season ... The Boilers have outscored the opposition 40-24 in the fourth quarter ... Purdue is averaging 6.7 plays, 59.2 yards and 2:33 TOP on its touchdown drives ... Wide receiver Keith Smith has at least one reception in 16 consecutive games ... Purdue has scored on all five of its first and goal chances this season (four touchdowns, one field goal) ...
RECYCLING EFFORTS AT ROSS-ADE
The Purdue athletics department and the Boiler Green Initiative have teamed up for recycling efforts in and around Ross-Ade Stadium for the Boilermakers seven home games. Through the first three home dates this season, fans have helped chip in with 22,360 pounds of recyclable materials, including a record haul of 10,780 pounds for the Notre Dame game.