Aidan O'Connell passed for 423 yards and three touchdowns and Milton Wright had eight receptions for 213 yards and three scores as visiting Purdue defeated Northwestern 32-14 on Saturday afternoon in Big Ten play at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Purdue (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) rebounded from last week's lopsided loss at Ohio State, earning its third victory in four games while clinching a winning season. The Wildcats (3-8, 1-7) suffered their fifth straight loss.
Wright torched the Northwestern secondary to lead the way, establishing career highs for catches, yards and touchdowns. After entering the day with four touchdown receptions this season, he nearly doubled that total Saturday. David Bell also proved a popular target, catching 12 passes for 101 yards from O'Connell, who completed 29 of 39 of his throws.
Mitchell Fineran kicked field goals of 32, 25, 22 and 38 yards for Purdue, which scored on seven straight drives before ultimately running out the clock on its final possession.
Evan Hull rushed 25 times for 96 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats, who gained 144 yards on the ground compared to 159 through the air as Andrew Marty and Ryan Hilinski split time under center.
Purdue outgained Northwestern 268-189 in the first half, with the Wildcats amassing nearly half their yards on the final possession before intermission.
Marty connected with Marshall Lang on a 4-yard touchdown pass as time expired to cap a nine-play, 76-yard scoring drive, bringing the hosts within 13-7.
The play came just 1:45 after the Boilermakers grabbed a 13-0 lead on a 53-yard touchdown pass from O'Connell to Wright. To that point, Purdue boasted drives of 65 and 60 yards, but only had a pair of field goals to show for it.
The game was played 11 years to the day following Illinois' 48-27 rout of Northwestern at Wrigley in the first college football game played at the historic baseball venue since 1938. Northwestern was set to play Wisconsin at the Friendly Confines last season, but the game later shifted to the Wildcats' Ryan Field amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ballpark renovations and other maneuvers by NCAA and Big Ten officials assured a more orthodox field setup Saturday. In 2010, the teams used only the west end zone, as officials determined the opposite end zone was too close to the right field wall.
--Field Level Media