Your northwest Indiana report. Week 1 Edition . .

@ Nice 31-27 win for Northwestern at Purdue on Thursday night. 

QB Clayton Thorson returned just eight months after a major ACL injury in the Wildcats’ bowl. And backup QB T.J. Green (son of Trent Green) did good things while limiting Thorson’s risk factor.

The Cats scored all 31 of their points in the first half as Purdue’s young defense grew up quickly. Ironically, a mental-error personal foul by veteran defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal, who needlessly slammed Jeremy Larkin to the ground after the whistle, gave NU the late first down it needed to ice the game.

Larkin (143 yards, two TDs), a sophomore who succeeds Justin Jackson at running back, had a nice game. So did Purdue’s true freshman receiver, 5-9 (on tippy toes) Rondale Moore, who set the Purdue record with 313 all-purpose yards in his college debut: 11 receptions for 109 yards, two runs for 79 yards and five returns for 125 yards.

In the end, though, the Boilermakers made too many mistakes, including three interceptions.

Their raditional names say Iowa and Nebraska are the biggest threats to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Wet. Wouldn’t surprise me, though, if Northwestern and Purdue turn out to be right there.

@ Michigan-Notre Dame dwarfs them all.

It’s the best Week 1 matchup in the Big Ten, and one of the best in the nation.

There’s so much on the line from a won-lost standpoint. The winner will be identified as a serious College Football Playoff darkhorse. If it’s the tight game we expect, the loser will remain in the hunt, but with virtually no margin for error.

But  the heat, already turned up on Jim Harbaugh, will become even more intense if Michigan loses. That’s one reason I gingerly expect the Wolverines to nudge past the Irish.

Michigan-ND is very similar to Georgia’s early-season trip to South Bend last year. The Dawgs eked out a victory but the Irish remained in the playoff conversation until November, when they collapsed at Miami and Stanford.

Key question: How will the quarterbacks fare? Michigan’s Shea Patterson, the Ole Miss transfer, is a mystery at this point. And we don’t know how Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush, who supposedly has matured this off-season, will deal with a Wolverines defense that’s among the best in the nation.

In other words, must-see stuff under the Golden Dome.

Elsewhere, I happen to think Northern Illinois, which has a good track record in these kinds of games, will keep things interesting at Iowa. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.