Game Day: Nebraska vs. Purdue

Looking to step up

Nebraska coach Mike Riley may still be in the honeymoon with all things Husker, but Nebraska’s football team has put itself in a tough spot, now facing a steep hill to reach a bowl game or any of the goals that it set for itself before the season. Even if 1-6 Purdue, the Huskers’ opponent Saturday morning at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana, is the weakest team on Nebraska’s schedule, odds mount against NU. Obstacles grow.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Purdue rush defense

Nebraska tried various methods to get something going on the ground against Northwestern, but managed just 82 rushing yards. The Huskers still rank 33rd nationally at 4.94 yards per carry. But can they be physical and assertive enough against Purdue's big-bodied front? The Boilermakers are allowing 210.2 rushing yards per game during the past three years — but they've held NU to 4.02 yards per carry in their last two meetings.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense

The health status of starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong is in question, so that'll make a big difference. With him at the helm, he's led the Huskers to a No. 36 ranking in passing yards per game (260.6) — though they're only averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. Not as efficient as they would like. And now it may be Fyfe's turn. Purdue's Leroy Clark is the man to watch (he has two interceptions and team-high six pass break-ups).

Purdue rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Purdue has relied mostly on two backs — freshman Markell Jones (5.9 yards per carry) and sophomore D.J. Knox (3.8 yards per carry). But Knox is hurt. And the Boilermakers still rank just 123rd nationally with 21 rushes of 10-plus yards this year. It won't be any easier against the Huskers, whose defensive line and linebackers have reacted aggressively and instinctively to run game action all year. NU ranks 33rd nationally at 3.51 yards per carry allowed.

Purdue pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

David Blough is an inexperienced redshirt freshman quarterback with receivers who haven't yet proved to be big-time game-changers. But Nebraska's opponents have all enjoyed some level of success against the Huskers, who're giving up 321.1 passing yards per game (126th nationally) and who have allowed 43 pass plays of 20-plus yards (128th). Watch out for Jones in the pass game — Purdue likes to get the ball to its backs in space.

Special teams

Nebraska's averaging just 15.8 yards per kickoff attempt, which ranks 125th nationally. Purdue's given up lots of kickoff return yards, though — 24.41 per attempt (110th). The Boilermakers have just 11 total punt return yards on five attempts. De'Mornay Pierson-El is starting to get back on track, though he's still not his old self just yet. Purdue kicker Paul Griggs has made three of his eight field goal tries. Drew Brown's hit his last four, all of which have been longer than 40 yards.

Intangibles

The Boilermakers have lost their last nine Big Ten games. They're just 1-18 in league play under coach Darrell Hazell. Not good. But they nearly upset Michigan State this month and battled against the Spartans last year. They lost a one-point game to Minnesota in 2014. This could be Purdue's chance at a momentum-boosting win. And this program knows it. A humbled and frustrated NU team better be ready to match the hunger and fire of these upset-minded Boilermakers.

Key matchup: Nebraska receivers vs. Purdue defensive backs

If indeed the injury to their starting quarterback is severe enough to knock him out of Saturday's game and the Huskers must turn to backup Ryker Fyfe, the NU receivers will need to step up. They've been up and down the last few weeks, making the tough catches look easy but also botching the routine ones. The Boilermaker secondary can be vulnerable at times. Nebraska needs to win the one-on-one battles, consistently.

Our take

It'll be a noon kickoff in a half-full stadium with nothing on the line but pride and hope. Both programs are in need of a win. They may be desperate to get it, too. Purdue's three years into a rebuilding process, so the pressure is mounting. Nebraska's sudden dropoff isn't something that its loyal fan base will tolerate long. It may be sloppy, it may be unconventional and there may be head-scratching mistakes. But somebody's got to win. NU's the one with more talent.

Our prediction: Nebraska 24, Purdue 21

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Purdue matchup provided by the NU Athletic Department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History Database is your new home for archiving one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

BRT app

IPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Love of game waned, signalling retirement for former Husker linebacker Trevor Roach

Roach’s retirement was recently made official, ending his NFL career after two seasons in Cincinnati. He was active for four games last season, and also for the Bengals’ playoff game in 2015.

Ex-Husker running back Rex Burkhead, now a free agent, ponders next move after showing promise with Bengals

The last time he was in uniform, Burkhead gave the Bengals and 31 other teams something to think about by rushing for a career-high 119 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-10 win over Baltimore.

Q&A: Nebraska coaching great Tom Osborne not slowing down at 80

It's going on 20 years since Tom Osborne last coached a football game and 10 years since the end of his three terms as a Nebraska congressman. He was Nebraska's athletic director from 2007-12, served two years on the College…

Recruiting: 2018 Lincoln Southeast DT Bryson Williams gets big offer, eyes more

Lincoln Southeast's Bryson Williams is interested in Nebraska, which has had some contact, but not as much as Minnesota and Kansas State, which offered him a scholarship Wednesday.

Nebraska assistant Keith Williams sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to third-offense DUI

Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams on Wednesday pleaded no contest to third-offense DUI, a misdemeanor offense stemming from a August 2016 arrest. Prosecutors dropped a second charge of reckless driving.

Pick Six Podcast: March Madness, Creighton hoops, Big East realignment, Husker spring football, Oscar movies and more

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the latest edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."

Recruiting: Nebraska targeting pass-rushing outside linebackers to fit new 3-4 defense

Nebraska has started recruiting to fit Bob Diaco’s new 3-4 defensive scheme, and finding pass-rushing outside linebackers will be a big focus. The Huskers offered within the last 24 hours at least four prospects that fit the same mold —…

What’s the catch? Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong works at receiver ahead
 of pro day

Tommy Armstrong was always going through the quarterback drills during Nebraska practices, but Keith Williams would notice from time to time just how naturally Armstrong would handle the football or catch it when thrown his way.

Shatel: Winding road with many connections led Mike Riley's confidant Dan Van De Riet to Nebraska

One of the most powerful men in the Nebraska football program never played football at all — well, one year he did suit up — and somehow, he found his way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he goes to work every…

Kade Warner, son of former NFL QB Kurt Warner, will join Huskers as preferred walk-on

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound son of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner announced his decision to sign with the Huskers late Thursday night on Twitter. He will join NU as a preferred walk-on over identical offers from ASU, UCLA, Iowa,…

Recruiting: Nebraska sets dates for Friday Night Lights camps

The Friday Night Lights events drew top national prospects — and were open to the public — last summer, becoming a hit with recruits and Husker fans alike.

Trent Bray stays put and gets raise, pushing Nebraska assistant salaries near $4 million

Nebraska’s assistant football coaches are set to collectively earn nearly $4 million next season, according to recent updates to their contracts, and every assistant will eventually have a deal that runs through the 2018 season.

Cethan Carter, Nate Gerry will represent Nebraska at NFL combine

Cethan Carter and Nate Gerry were teammates, roommates and good friends through their Nebraska football careers — and now both will head next to the NFL combine.

Recruiting: Nebraska ups pursuit of big-bodied wide receivers with recent offers

Keith Williams has upped his pursuit of a big-bodied receiver in the early days of the 2018 recruiting cycle. He extended three offers this week to receivers that measure 6-3 or taller, and the majority of the 17 wide receivers…

Examining new Husker assistant Bob Elliott's recruiting results over last decade

New Nebraska safeties coach Bob Elliott has recruited a variety of positions in the last decade. Some of those signees have gone on to be key contributors, while others struggled to ever find the field.

New Husker safeties coach Bob Elliott is respected technician who has worked in the territory

Bob Elliott has officially been named Nebraska's new safeties coach. The World-Herald reported last week that the longtime assistant was expected to join the Huskers' staff as Brian Stewart's replacement. Nebraska made the news official Monday when it announced Elliott's…

Shatel: Husker hire Bob Elliott has veteran coaching chops, Midwest football know-how

Elliott has a college coaching career that spans four decades. He’s the caliber of a coach along the lines of Milt Tenopir, Charlie McBride, George Darlington and Ron Brown. In short, he could have coached for Tom Osborne.

From Bob Diaco's influence to emphasis on 500-mile radius, 10 storylines for Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class

Bob Diaco has a vision for the personnel he wants in his 3-4 scheme. That's one of the major storylines for Nebraska as it starts to put together its 2018 recruiting class.

Nebraska hopes to go 2 for 2 with quarterback targets Tanner McKee, Colson Yankoff

Should Nebraska’s dream scenario play out, it would sign Colson Yankoff and Tanner McKee as scholarship quarterbacks in February 2018.

McKewon: 25 recruits to watch for Huskers' 2018 recruiting class

Nebraska’s march toward the 2018 recruiting class has already resulted in three commitments — Cameron Jurgens of Beatrice, Masry Mapieu of York and Eric Fuller of Los Angeles. Who might join them? Here are 25 names to watch.

Former Husker defensive coordinator John Papuchis named North Carolina DC after Gene Chizik steps down

Linebacker coach John Papuchis is being promoted to defensive coordinator. Before joining North Carolina in 2015, Papuchis spent seven seasons as an assistant with Nebraska, including three seasons as defensive coordinator.

Huskers are expected to hire veteran coach Bob Elliott to coach safeties

Nebraska is prepared to bring a veteran hand to a young defensive staff with the addition of Bob Elliott.

Huskers looking to neighboring Missouri to stock next recruiting class

In his signing day press conference, coach Mike Riley made a point of mentioning NU’s need to win more recruiting battles in the 500-mile radius. He then zeroed in on Missouri.

Recruiting: Early scholarship offers can benefit Nebraska's 2018 class like they did in 2017

Nebraska just wrapped up the 2017 recruiting class, but the Huskers are already about to enter an important stretch for the next one.

Soaring Rocket: Freshman McKenna Minter, daughter of former Husker Mike Minter, already among state’s best players

As the daughter of a former Nebraska football star, Lincoln Northeast freshman McKenna Minter already faced high expectations. The 5-foot-8 guard has delivered.

Pick Six Podcast: NU's 3-4 defense, 2017 recruits, Bluejay basketball, Super Bowl 51 and more

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the latest edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."

Recruiting: WR Kade Warner, son of new hall of famer Kurt Warner, went under radar but will visit Nebraska

Kade Warner, who set the Arizona state record for career receptions with 241, will take a visit to Nebraska this weekend. Kade's dad is Kurt Warner, who found out Saturday he was headed to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Crete native Lyle Sittler helped coach Bob Devaney turn Nebraska into a winner

Bob Devaney started the Nebraska football turnaround in 1962, and Lyle Sittler was right there as the Huskers went 28-5 and played in the Gotham, Orange and Cotton bowls during Devaney’s first three seasons.

Notre Dame assistant Bob Elliott to meet with coach Mike Riley about NU's open assistant position

Bob Elliott last month lauded the Nebraska hire of Bob Diaco as defensive coordinator. Elliott now might be among the candidates to join him on the Husker staff.

Paying with 
a chance to play: Defensive line coach John Parrella sees ‘serious potential’ in Central City's Jordan Paup

Jordan Paup once hurdled an offensive lineman to break up an extra-point try. He outruns most high school receivers and can squat upwards of 465 pounds.