This is exactly what the B1G had in mind when it decided to start scheduling conference games early in the season.

Purdue and Northwestern battled down to the wire, putting it all on the line for the early leg up in the B1G West. The 31-27 victory for the Wildcats had a little bit of everything you want out of an early-season matchup with high stakes, including a controversial ending.

With a third down stop late in the game, Purdue was prepared to get one final opportunity to drive down the field and potentially put a go-ahead touchdown on the board for the chance to start conference play 1-0 and get its first win over Northwestern since 2010. But veteran defensive lineman Lorenzo Neal threw Wildcats running back Jeremy Larkin to the ground, warranting a 15-yard penalty and costing the Boilermakers the game.

An unappealing end to an exciting matchup.

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But if we learned anything from this Week 1 matchup, it’s this: both Purdue and Northwestern are going to be really fun to watch this season.

In the absence of star running back Justin Jackson, Larkin stepped up big time, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. On the other side of the field, Purdue true freshman Rondale Moore set a program record for all-purpose yards in a single game, amassing 313 total yards. He also scored two touchdowns for the Boilermakers.

Those two playmakers, alongside two defenses that should improve over time, are going to provide fans with some entertaining Saturdays.

Neither team looked particularly crisp in the contest, but Northwestern played the smarter game. The Wildcats had just six penalties as opposed to Purdue’s nine. The Boilermakers also had three turnovers.

Northwestern didn’t turn the ball over all night.

Thursday’s contest between two overlooked programs was about as entertaining a contest as you could’ve asked for to kick off the college football season. It was just decided in an unfortunate fashion.

But don’t sleep on the Wildcats or the Boilermakers this season. These are two teams capable of competing with just about every team on their schedule this fall.