By Joe Coughlin
A fading Purdue program could use something to smile about, but hey, the Boilermakers quietly won three conference games a year ago. That may not sound like much, but it's more than four B1G teams and as many as Michigan State. Purdue also forced Ohio State into overtime.
It's not going to be easy-going for Purdue in 2013. In the first half, it has Notre Dame at home, Wisconsin on the road, Northern Illinois at home and Nebraska at home. It needs a win in there to make for a successful campaign.
Just like Iowa, I think Purdue cannot lose to visiting Northern Illinois. It's a winnable game for the Boilermakers, but it's nowhere near a cinch. The Huskies are again going to be a nine-win team; can Purdue be one of the losses?
Prediction: No. Northern Illinois is going to win another tough road test and Purdue is going to have to settle for nonconference and meaningless wins.