EVANSTON, Ill. -- C.J. Bacher threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score to help Northwestern rebound from its only loss to beat Purdue 48-26 on Saturday, sending the Boilermakers to their fourth straight defeat.
Northwestern (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) responded after falling to Michigan State last Saturday as Eric Peterman caught a TD pass and threw for another on a wild offensive day at Ryan Field.
Purdue (2-5, 0-3) was hurt by penalties and five turnovers and had difficulty containing Northwestern's spread offense.
Bacher's 9-yard TD pass to Tyrell Sutton with 15 seconds left in the second quarter -- 54 seconds after Purdue's Kory Sheets ran in for a 2-yard score -- erased any momentum the Boilermakers had hoped to take into the half and gave Northwestern a 24-12 lead.
The Wildcats made it 34-12 late in the third quarter when Corey Wooton hit Curtis Painter as he threw, forcing the ball to go in the air with Brad Phillips intercepting at the Boilermakers' 12. That set up Bacher's 1-yard TD pass to Brendan Mitchell.
Painter's 32-yard TD pass to Greg Orton early in the final quarter, made it 34-19.
Northwestern then got a boost from a video review. After Jordan Mabin intercepted a pass and returned it 38 yards to the Purdue 1, the ball appeared to come loose as Sutton tried to cross the goal line for the TD.
But after the video review, officials determined that Sutton was down at the 1 before the apparent fumble. and Northwestern retained possession. Two plays later, Bacher sneaked in to make it 41-19.
Omar Conteh's 14-yard TD run after a 41-yard fumble return by Brian Peters put Northwestern up 48-19. Sheets, who gained 168 yards on 17 carries, broke loose for a 76-yard TD with six minutes to go.
Purdue backup quarterback Joey Elliott, who replaced Painter in the second quarter, separated his soulder on a keeper with 1:44 left in the first half. Painter returned to the field and immediately threw a 24-yard pass to Orton to get the ball to the Northwestern 4 to set up Sheets' 2-yard run that made it 17-12.
On the ensuing kickoff, Purdue was called for its second personal foul penalty of the game to give Northwestern good field position. Bacher completed a 30-yard pass to Jeremy Ebert to the Purdue 5 and on third down, he flipped the TD pass to Sutton.
Peterman's versatility helped the Wildcats take the lead. He broke a tackle during a splendid 45-yard catch-and-run TD that put the Wildcats up 7-6.
Three minutes later, he took the flip on a reverse, rolled right and tossed a 30-yard TD pass to a wide open Sidney Stewart, giving the Wildcats a 14-6 lead.
Painter completed 26 of 41 passes for 273 yards with three interceptions and moved into No. 2 all-time in Big Ten completions (919) ahead of former Northwestern QB Brett Basanez. Bacher finished 20-of-33 for 230 yards.
Northwestern middle linebacker Malcolm Arrington, tied for second on the team in tackles entering the game, injured his left leg on a running play with just under six minutes left in the first quarter and had to be helped off the field.