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Top 5 Mid Major - Big Ten Games of 2009: #4 Purdue v. Northern Illinois

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In partnership with Mid-Major Madness (MMM), SBN's haven for non-BCS coverage, we began a countdown last week of the top give match-ups between Big Ten and Mid-Major football teams. After covering a smashmouth Wisky-Fresno matchup at #5, we move to a showdown in West Lafayette that will be vital to Purdue's bowl hopes. Can the Boilermakers defeat this up and coming MAC team that Phil Steele believes is bowl bound? Here is the full preview on MMM, but below are a few key factors to look for during this game.

Game Hype

TRE: Purdue needs this game. Enough said. If the Boilers want a bowl game from this transition year, they need to disprove the following statement I made in 2008:

"The best MAC teams trump the worst Big Ten teams"

Key Matchup

NIU QB vs. Purdue's Linebacking Corps

TRE: Huskies quarterback Chandler Harnish can run...and throw...and lead. He proved this in 2008 as A FRESHMAN. Is he the next Dan Lefevour or Tim Hiller, MAC quarterbacks sure to get NFL hype? What will determine how the middle of Purdue's defense fares against Harnish's multi-faceted skills?

Predictions

TRE: Upset special. These are two evenly matched teams, with one team returning a couple more play makers.

NIU 31, Purdue 24.

Countdown Games

#5 - Wisconsin v. Fresno State