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Northwestern's Dunsmore eager to play Purdue
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/4/2010 7:16 PM

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Northwestern rallied to win at Minnesota without the services of potential all-Big Ten tight end Drake Dunsmore.

Fortunately for Dunsmore and the Wildcats, they'll likely regain his services for Saturday night's clash with Purdue at Ryan Field (6:30 p.m., BTN).

Dunsmore feared the worst when he hyperextended his right knee late in the first half of NU's 29-28 win. It's the same knee in which he tore his ACL and some cartilage in 2008.

"I feel a lot better than I did on Saturday," Dunsmore said Monday. "Got an MRI, everything checked out. I'll be good to go on Saturday."

Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald was a little more cautious. After watching Dunsmore run decently during Monday's light workout, Fitzgerald declared him to be 75 percent or "probable."

Dunsmore owns 18 catches (tied with Sidney Stewart for second on the squad) for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Big Ten Browne: Guess who leads the Big Ten in sacks? Junior defensive end Vince Browne didn't know the answer until Pat Fitzgerald fed him the news Monday.

"It is what it is," Browne said. "Still got a long way to go and just got to keep working.

Browne owns 5 sacks in 5 games, which makes him the conference's leader in total sacks. The NCAA stats go by sacks per game, though, so Purdue all-American Ryan Kerrigan has a slight edge with 4.5 sacks in 4 games.

Browne, who shifted from outside linebacker during his freshman year, already has equaled last year's total.

With 14 career sacks, Browne ranks fifth on NU's all-time list. Career leader Casey Dailey (28 sacks) owns the modern single-season record with 12.

Browne used to be primarily a speed rusher, but he has added some power moves to his arsenal now that he's up to 265 pounds. Or, at least, that's how it appears.

"I don't know," Browne said. "I'm just trying to get there as hard as I can."

Fitz relates to PU: Purdue (2-2) comes to town Saturday without its best quarterback, running back and wide receiver due to injuries.

Quarterback Robert Marve and WR Kevin Smith are out for the year with torn knee ligaments, while running back Ralph Bolden tore up his knee during the spring.

Oh, and quarterback-turned-receiver Justin Siller will be out this week with a sprained foot.

"There's a lot of similarities between what they're going through right now and what we went through a couple years ago when we lost C.J. (Bacher) and Tyrell (Sutton) in the same game," said NU coach Pat Fitzgerald.

"This kid named Kafka came out and played pretty well on the road game."

That was in 2008, when Northwestern stunned No. 20 Minnesota without Bacher or Sutton available.

Fitzgerald also noted Kafka was hobbled last year forcing Dan Persa to come to the fore when Northwestern won at No. 4 Iowa. Sounds like someone's trying to make a point to guard against overconfidence this week.

"I don't think any of us are taking Purdue lightly," said defensive end Vince Browne.

Remember when? Seventy-five years ago Tuesday, Purdue and Northwestern competed at Dyche Stadium in the Big Ten's first night game.

The Wildcats lost 7-0 and the teams haven't met in a night game since.

Some hoops, too: Junior forward John Shurna (Glenbard West) made the Wooden Award's 50-man preseason watch list.

One of 10 Big Ten players to make the cut, Shurna averaged 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds last season and earned second-team all-league honors.

NU's men's and women's basketball teams will open their first official practice with a Friday Night Hoops extravaganza at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the school's Sports and Aquatics Center.