Our buddy T-Mill over at Slammer and Snails is doing outstanding work in nailing down preview Q&As with Purdue opponents for the upcoming season. One of his recent ones was for the Northern Illinois game, where he spoke with Red and Black Attack.
I don't think I'm the only Boilermaker fan who, while cautiously optimistic about the Hope Era, feels that home games against MAC schools should be wins. Red and Black Attacks thinks we should be afraid.
As for Northern Illinois being "just another MAC team", I beg to differ. Northern Illinois is on the upswing with head coach Jerry Kill in his second year coaching this team. He managed to lead this Huskie team to a bowl game in his first year with a focus on something the Chips don't have: a defense.
Oh, the Central Michigan Chips, who we beat three times in 12 months? You mean, your conference champs? Those Chips? Oh, gotcha. (I do love a name like "Coach Kill.")
Need more evidence that NIU is for real?
Big 10 athletes are something that you have a hard time preparing for because their increased depth over MAC teams. Purdue, just like Wisconsin is going to have more players that are bigger, faster and stronger than the Huskies on an overall level. In 2005, we stood toe to toe with Michigan in the Big House and the next week we were a 2-point conversion away from beating Northwestern.
So Big Ten athletes are bigger, stronger, faster... and NIU almost beat a couple Big Ten teams four years ago. Still not convinced this means they have a great chance to knock off the Boilermakers?
Last year we lost to Minnesota in the final minute by 4 points. We almost beat the Vols in Knoxville last year without our starting quarterback, but also lost by 4 points.
I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
The Huskies are at Wisconsin to start their season, then have a home game, and then come to West Lafayette. I just cannot imagine the Boilermakers not being ready for this game. You must beat MAC teams (something Purdue has done with regularity, even in lousy years) in order to have a respectable season as a Big Ten program.
Sure, I'm busting balls a bit, but to imply that your team has a chance is fine. However, using supporting evidence that it's because they have been close a bunch of times over the past 4-5 years is not very convincing.
Am I opening us up to criticism if NIU comes into West Lafayette and pulls the upset? Sure, I suppose. But who cares? If we need to start being cautious of MAC teams, we might as well pull the plug on the season.
Of course, if you're an NIU fan, feel free to come back here and gloat should your boys pull it off. We'll be here.