Purdue stays in the title hunt with a 17-9 win over Northwestern

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell began his college career as a walk-on buried on the depth chart.

He could end it by leading the Boilermakers to their first Big Ten championship game.

The sixth-year quarterback threw two more touchdown passes in his last home game on Saturday and Purdue’s defense forced three second-half turnovers to give the Boilermakers a 17-9 win over Northwestern that kept their West Division title hopes intact held.

“They have a lot to play, people are talking about postseason stuff and it’s not like we’re blind to it,” O’Connell said when asked what’s at stake next week. “It’s up to us to make sure we’re grounded and focused on the task at hand.”

Purdue (7-4, 5-3) wants to keep it simple. A win next week at rival Indiana, coupled with a loss in Iowa, sends the Boilermakers to Indianapolis for championship weekend.

Coach Jeff Brohm knows the challenge will be even greater when they play in the same cold, stormy conditions that made the field so slippery on Saturday. But the Boilermakers have proven they can adapt.