Northwestern takes down Purdue, becomes bowl eligible

Cam Porter rushed for two touchdowns as Northwestern never trailed and became bowl-eligible with a 23-15 victory over Purdue on Saturday at Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) won consecutive games for the first time this season and clinched their bowl appearance two days after removing the interim tag from coach David Braun.

Porter rushed for two TDs for the second time in his career and first instance since Dec. 12, 2020 against Illinois. He easily scored a 7-yard TD a little less three minutes in and then had a 34-yard TD run early in the fourth that helped Northwestern clinch the win.

Porter finished with a season-best 95 yards on 17 carries as Northwestern won despite being outgained 439-329 and holding possession for 25:17 to 34:43 for Purdue.

Northwestern’s Ben Bryant completed 13 of 24 passes for 230 yards in his second game back from an upper-body injury. He threw his only TD to Cam Johnson, whose 52-yard reception helped the Wildcats start to pull away at 16-7 in the third quarter.

Northwestern also clinched their bowl berth on the strength of a defense that dominated at times. The Wildcats forced four turnovers, including an interception by Xander Mueller with 21 seconds left to protect an eight-point lead as Purdue moved past midfield.

Northwestern also got five of its six sacks in the first half and registered eight tackles for losses.

Purdue quarterback Hudson Card was a late scratch due to an injury and Ryan Browne and Bennett Meredith split time for the Boilermakers (3-8, 2-6). Browne took the majority of the snaps and was 12 of 16 for 104 yards while also handing off frequently to Tyrone Tracy Jr., who rushed for 160 yards.

Northwestern scored on the fourth play of its opening drive when Porter ran in untouched. After missing the two-point conversion, Northwestern’s defense stopped Purdue four times at the goal line before forcing two turnovers late in the first half.

With 9:05 left in the third, Northwestern’s Grayson Metz recovered a muffed punt at the Purdue 21 and the Wildcats capitalized by getting a 30-yard field goal from Jack Olsen with 7:38 left.

Purdue scored when Tracy powered his way into the end zone with 3:59 left but nearly two minutes later Johnson outraced Cam Allen and linebacker Kydran Jenkins for a 16-7 lead and Porter got his second TD with 12:08 to go.

Devin Mockobee’s 2-yard TD and subsequent two-point conversion got Purdue within 23-15 with 3:06 remaining and Purdue got to the Northwestern 34 before Browne was intercepted for the second time.