EVANSTON, Ill. – Justin Jackson didn't care how close the score was against struggling Purdue. All that mattered was another win by No. 24 Northwestern.
As for the margin of victory?
"It's a Big Ten game," the Wildcats running back said. "It's gonna be tough."
Jackson ran for 116 yards and a late touchdown, and Warren Long ran for two more TDs to lead Northwestern to a 21-14 victory over Purdue.
With a school record for wins and a spot in a prestigious bowl in reach, Northwestern (8-2, 4-2) pulled out another one.
Jackson plowed in from the 2 with 4:37 remaining to cap a 58-yard drive.
The Wildcats faced third-and-14 at the Purdue 37 when quarterback Clayton Thorson broke off back-to-back 16-yard runs to put the ball on the 5. They converted four third downs on the drive, including the TD by Jackson. He wasn't sure he got in until a review confirmed the score.
That lifted Northwestern to its third straight win — the Wildcats beat both Nebraska and Penn State by two points in their last two games.
Purdue (2-8, 1-5) dropped its second straight and remained winless against ranked teams since 2011.
"It's that last quarter and one-half where we got to make a play," coach Darrell Hazell said. "We have to make a play."