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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:00 am

Boilers hoping to halt Cats' streak

ANDREW SELIGMAN | Associated Press

Purdue at Northwestern

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 1380 AM, 1480 FM

EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern would gladly take a win without the overtime. But the Wildcats aren't complaining.

They head into today's game against Purdue with a spot in the record book after becoming the first FBS program to play three consecutive overtime games and win them all.

“When you've been through overtime before, it makes you more comfortable in that situation,” defensive lineman Joe Graziano said.

The Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) are second in the Big Ten West after winning four in a row. But the past three games are what put them in the record book.

And they looked right at home in OT against Nebraska last week. That came on the heels of a wild finish against then-No. 16 Michigan State. And a week before that, the Wildcats got past Iowa 17-10 in OT.

Purdue (4-5, 2-4) beat Illinois last week to snap a three-game losing streak. But quarterback David Blough dislocated his right ankle and will miss the rest of the season.

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm spent most of this season using a two-quarterback rotation. Don't expect to see it again. With the Boilermakers missing their most experienced starter in Blough, Brohm will turn to the other quarterback, Elijah Sindelar, for the next three games – and perhaps a fourth.

“While he (Sindelar) was disappointed he had not been starting the last couple weeks, he practiced well,” Brohm said. “I think he's excited about the opportunity to play.”

Sindelar will be backed up by Jared Sparks, a redshirt freshman who is listed on the depth chart as both a receiver and quarterback.

Under Brohm, the Boilermakers have already surpassed last season's overall and Big Ten win totals. The defense is allowing 19.4 points fewer per game, the biggest improvement in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and 94.0 yards fewer rushing per game, the nation's seventh-best improvement. They are running for 63.1 yards more per game than 2016, the eighth-best turnaround in the nation. But the most important is that Purdue has seen crowds increase by 12,589 per game, a big turnabout from the steadily dwindling numbers of recent years.