Saturday, Oct. 14 12:00pm ET
Homecoming turns sour for Wildcats


EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Purdue had the perfect cure for Northwestern's Rose Bowl fever: Drew Brees.

Drew Brees
Purdue quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes Saturday at Northwestern.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful threw for 239 yards and five touchdowns Saturday and ran for another 56 yards as No. 21 Purdue earned a 41-28 victory over Northwestern (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP).

It was the first Big Ten loss for the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1), whose surprising start had them flashing back to their 1995 Rose Bowl season.

"Drew gets an A-plus with the win," said Vinny Sutherland, who caught two of Brees' scoring passes.

Brees is only 168 yards shy of tying Iowa's Chuck Long for the Big Ten record for passing yards (10,461). It's the only major passing record left for Brees, who already has set marks for touchdowns (81), completions (897), attempts (1,459) and total offense (11,021 yards).

"He's a special player," Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. "He makes a couple of shots and you just go, `Wow.' "

And there's more to Purdue's offense than Brees. Montrell Lowe rushed for a career-high 174 yards, including a 50-yard run on Purdue's very first series. Sutherland caught eight passes for 84 yards, and John Standeford had six catches for 74 yards and three touchdowns.

Zak Kustok was 18-of-28 for 260 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. Damien Anderson, who'd rushed for 685 yards in the last three games, was held to just 55 yards on 17 carries.

The Wildcats have been confusing opponents all year with their funky spread-out, no-huddle offense, and it looked like more of the same early against Purdue (5-2, 3-1). With Kustok threading bullets through coverage, the Wildcats scored on their first two possessions and racked up 128 yards of offense in the quarter.

But the Boilermakers have one of the Big Ten's best defenses, and they shut Northwestern down from the second quarter on. The Wildcats scored twice in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.

As the clock ran down, the large contingent of Purdue fans started chanting, "Overrated! Overrated!"

"I've had to warn our kids about comparisons (to the 1995 Rose Bowl team)," Walker said. "I just didn't do a very good job because we didn't play our best or most focused game. That's usually not an accident."

But the Wildcats still have some hope left. Minnesota upset Ohio State on Saturday, which means the Big Ten is still up for grabs.

"We control our own destiny," Brees said. "We're not concerned about other teams knocking off other teams."

While much has been made about Northwestern's many-option offense, it was Joe Tiller who first shook up the Big Ten with his "Basketball on Grass" scheme. And the Boilermakers showed Saturday they've got a pretty good running game, too.

After tying the game at 14 in the second quarter on Brees' 7-yard pass to Standeford, the Boilermakers opened the second half with three unanswered touchdowns.

The Wildcats had a chance to get some momentum back after its first series when its punt bounced off of Purdue's Brady Doe. They recovered, only to give the ball right back when Purdue safety Ralph Turner picked off Kustok's pass.

Four plays later, Brees found Sutherland for a 26-yard score.

Northwestern turned the ball over again on its first play, and Steve Ennis scored from the 1 with 4:51 left in the third. The Boilermakers had to settle for a 34-14 lead when Travis Dorsch's point-after attempt hit the left upright, but that was enough.

"I don't know what happened when it was 14-7," Walker said. "When you get a couple of early scores like that, you worry that it gets a little easier than you want it to be. I don't know if that happened today, but we lost momentum."

Early on, Northwestern looked like it was ready to play with the Big Ten's best. On the first series, Kustok connected with Patrick for a 25-yard gain and ripped off a 34-yard run to set up Anderson's 1-yard TD run.

It was the seventh straight game in which Anderson has scored a touchdown, a Northwestern record.

After Brees tied the game with an 11-yard pass to Sutherland, Kustok moved the Wildcats with passes of 10, 19 and 15 yards. He then hit Johnson with a 7-yard dart for another score even though Purdue's Ashante Woodyard was practically hanging on Johnson's back.

But Purdue's defense shut the Wildcats down from then on, and Brees took care of the rest.

"They played well, we didn't play as well as we could," said Northwestern center Austin King. "Put that together, and that's what happened today."

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 Purdue's Drew Brees throws 10 yards to Vinny Sutherland for the TD against Northwestern.
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 Purdue's Drew Brees throws 26 yards to Vinny Sutherland for the TD against Northwestern.
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 Purdue's Drew Brees fires 7 yards to John Standeford for the TD.
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 Purdue's John Standeford grabs his second TD catch against Northwestern.
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