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Five storylines to follow

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 11:56 p.m. CDT
Monica Maschak - Wide receiver Da'Ron Brown misses the touchdown pass attempt in the fourth quarter of Northern Illinois hosting Eastern Illinois on Saturday, September 21, 2013. The Huskies won 43-39.

Five storylines to follow

1. Can the Huskies start the fight?

NIU head coach Rod Carey said the team has a sign in the weight room with a slogan that says "start and finish the fight."

The Huskies have been great in the second half this year, but slow starts will bite them sooner or later. NIU needs to "start the fight" against Purdue.

2. Defensive progress

NIU's defense played its best game against the other Big Ten team the Huskies faced this season – Iowa. The Huskies have made the necessary second-half adjustments this year, but rank 100th in the nation when it comes to total defense, allowing 448 yards per game.

3. Can the Boilermakers get to Lynch?

NIU's offensive line has been great this season, allowing only two sacks. Purdue has eight sacks this season, but five of them came against FCS Indiana State.

4. Defensive pressure

On the flip side, the Huskies have sacked the opposing quarterback 14 times. Defensive end Perez Ford (3.5 sacks) has provided some nice depth on the D-line, and defensive tackle Anthony Wells is expected back today.

5. Who makes the big play?

When NIU goes up against a BCS team, it usually comes down to a big play here, a big play there. Against Purdue in 2009, NIU took advantage of Justin Anderson's fake punt run in NIU's own territory.

At Iowa, punter Tyler Wedel had the first-down run on a fake field goal, and Jimmie Ward had the key interception late in the fourth quarter.

Against Kansas in 2011, it was the Jayhawks that scored a touchdown with nine seconds left.

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