The Boilermakers have a lot to watch for this weekend, from what happens in West Lafayette and Minneapolis to thoughts about next week and a potential shot in the Big Ten championship game.

Obviously, central focus will be on Purdue’s game vs. Northwestern, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stray toward what else is going on around the Big Ten. Let’s take a look at 5 things the Boilermakers, or perhaps more precisely their fans, will be watching on Saturday:

The game vs. the Wildcats

The Boilermakers will try to take care of their own business at noon on Saturday, as Northwestern comes to West Lafayette.

On paper, it looks like a good matchup for Purdue, which found some answers in upsetting Illinois in Champaign last weekend. The Wildcats have labored for the last few months, losing 9 straight after the season-opening win over Nebraska in Ireland. NU has quarterback issues — 4 played in a 31-3 loss to Minnesota — doesn’t have many playmakers, struggles to score (last in the Big Ten at only 15.3 points per game) and has a defense that gives up points (28.2, 3rd-worst in the league).

Purdue is a 20.5-point favorite, its largest line in a Big Ten game since beating Illinois in 2005. But the Boilermakers still must show up, and do many of the things that made them successful last week against the Fighting Illini, like maintaining a balanced offense, limiting turnovers and playing stout defensively; Purdue tackled better last week, which has been missing in the 2 previous losses.

Up in Minny

Meanwhile, Purdue supportively will be rowing the boat, so to speak, as the Boilermakers hope for some help from Minnesota in its game vs. Iowa.

If the Golden Gophers can pull off the victory — and they’re a 3-point favorite — Purdue will move into the driver’s seat for not only a Big Ten West crown, but a chance to play in the Big Ten championship game next month (assuming the Boilermakers beat Northwestern, also).

One thing to watch before the 4 p.m. ET kick is at quarterback, where veteran Tanner Morgan has missed the last game-and-a-half with an upper-body injury. It’s not yet known whether Morgan will be back to face Iowa, but if he is not, then redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis will make his 2nd straight start. Kaliakmanis wasn’t asked to do much in the win over Northwestern Saturday, throwing for 64 yards and rushing for 28 in the victory.

This season, Kaliakmanis has thrown for 460 yards on only a 46.5% completion percentage, with a touchdown and 3 interceptions.

Mock 1,000

Not many would have predicted that walk-on running back Devin Mockobee would have become a central figure for the Boilermakers’ offense this season.

Even fewer would have predicted a 1,000-yard season, yet Mockobee stands with the milestone in reach. The redshirt freshman has 732 yards on 145 carries with 7 touchdowns, not bad for a player who didn’t become the Boilermakers’ starter until Game 7. If Mockobee can reach 1,000 yards, he’ll become the 1st Boilermaker to do so since Kory Sheets went for 1,131 in 2008.

Mockobee could have as many as 4 games remaining, depending on whether Purdue gets the West No. 1 seed and plays Ohio State or Michigan in the Big Ten title game. But he might not need that many. Northwestern and Indiana are 2 of the worst 3 in the conference in rushing defense. The Wildcats rank dead last, allowing 200 yards per game, while the Hoosiers are No. 12, giving up 176.1.

Eye to the Hoosiers

The Bucket game is more than a week away, but Purdue will keep an eye on its rivals.

If the favorites win this Saturday, particularly Purdue over Northwestern and Minnesota over Iowa, it’ll set up one of the biggest Old Oaken Bucket games in series’ history, with the Boilermakers needing a win to play in the B1G title game Dec. 3 in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Hoosiers are a 10.5-point underdog at Michigan State on Saturday, as IU searches for its 2nd Big Ten win of the season. It’s only won 1 of its last 16 tries against league foes, dating to the end of the 2020 season, leaving some to wonder about the status of coach Tom Allen.

But that’s for later. The Hoosiers would love to gain some momentum vs. MSU, then try to spoil the Boilermakers’ season and win back the Bucket on Nov. 26.

The forecast

At least for now, the Boilermakers put to rest the notion that they can’t win in adverse weather conditions, a bugaboo that had been costly at times during the Jeff Brohm Era.

While it wasn’t terrible last Saturday in Champaign — the temperature at kickoff was 34, with gusting winds of around 15 mph — it was far from ideal, especially for Purdue’s precision passing game. But the Boilermakers persevered, turning to their running game to provide relief, and balance, to Aidan O’Connell and the passing game. Purdue even ran the option a few times, which generally isn’t a staple of Brohm’s vertical passing offense.

Mockobee rushed for 106 yards and O’Connell added 33 on a couple carries, as Purdue gained 142 on the ground, giving the Fighting Illini more to think about than only the Boilermakers’ passing attack.

Saturday’ in West Lafayette is expected to be cold, with a high of 34 and winds that could reach 20 mph.