Nebraska, Purdue look to get on track
Who: Nebraska vs. Purdue
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium, Purdue
Spread: Nebraska -10.5
Matchup to watch: Maliek Collins vs. Markell Jones
The Blackshirts, believe it or not, have actually been stout against the run this year. Nebraska is 10th in the country with less than 100 rushing yards allowed per game. Collins is a big part of that. He and the Huskers have actually been pretty solid against tailbacks, which means that the true freshman will have his work cut out for him. Even if D.J. Knox plays, he won’t be at full strength. Jones figures to see a significant workload either way. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Boilers want to attack the middle of the Nebraska defense against a playmaker like Collins. Jones will likely operate a lot outside of the tackles to try and stretch the porous Nebraska defense.
Thing I’m excited to see: David Blough against Nebraska’s pass defense
If there was ever a chance for a team to see what it has at quarterback for the future, this is it. Blough will take on the third-worst pass defense in the country at home. This is a unit that allowed an average of 267 yards to the likes of Mitch Leidner, Joel Stave and Clayton Thorson the last three weeks. There’s no reason that Blough can’t continue that trend. Nebraska will again be without suspended cornerback Jonathan Rose. The likes of DeAngelo Yancey and Danny Anthrop haven’t broke out in a B1G game yet, but Saturday could be a first.
Number to remember: 8
That’s how many passes Tommy Armstrong completed last year against Purdue. Ameer Abdullah even got hurt in that game and Nebraska still won 35-14. Part of that was because Armstrong beat the Boilers with his legs. But that was the Bo Pelini-led Huskers, not the Mike Riley-led Huskers. Armstrong could have eight completed passes in the first quarter of this one. Armstrong has at least 30 attempts in all but two games this year. That never happens at Nebraska. Terrell Newby still needs to be involved in this one, even if the Huskers find themselves trailing early. Nebraska is much better when it establishes balance like it did against Minnesota.
Prediction: Nebraska 35, Purdue 28
If you read the previous 400 words, you might assume that I’m picking the upset. I can’t do that. If Purdue had a B1G home win in the Hazell era — or a win against an FBS school this year — to speak of, maybe this would be a different conversation. I do think Blough is able to look more like the quarterback that torched Bowling Green. But for once, the Huskers are facing a team that is even worse in winning time than they are. Nebraska leaves the door open late and Purdue can’t put together a last-minute drive to win it. The unfortunate Purdue narrative plays out again.