Nebraska rush offense vs. Purdue rush defense
Purdue’s run defense gives up 4.28 yards per carry, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have also given up an eye-popping five runs of 40 or more yards. So Nebraska can gash this defense — if it sticks to it. But Mike Riley’s offenses at NU haven’t stuck with the run in two games against Purdue, so it’s questionable whether it will on Saturday. The Huskers seem interested in riding Devine Ozigbo, who’s running with confidence, and trying to grind out clock. But Purdue’s 3-4 scheme, coordinated by Nick Holt, will be aggressive against the run. Every defense has been so far.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense
The Huskers can have success here. Quarterback Tanner Lee is starting to deal, and Purdue’s pass rush — owners of just seven sacks this season — has a hard time getting after the quarterback without using the blitz. NU isn’t deep at receiver, but it has three guys — Stanley Morgan, JD Spielman and De’Mornay Pierson-El — who could play for any team in the Big Ten. Holt’s defenses can occasionally give up the big play-action pass. Lee and Co. have to pop a couple over the top of Purdue’s coverage, which gives up 7.2 yards per attempt this season. That’s tied for last in the Big Ten with Illinois.
Purdue rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Boilermakers’ spread offense, developed by coach Jeff Brohm, has such variety. Though it’s rooted in a shotgun passing game, PU can get in a pistol formation and run downhill at opponents. Nebraska has to be ready for both styles, but if Purdue is able to run the ball — like they did in a 55-45 win in 2015 — the Huskers won’t have much of a chance. Against teams not named Wisconsin and Ohio State, NU’s run defense has been solid-to-good. Expect more of the same on Saturday night, as Purdue tries to run early, has middling success, and switches more to the pass.
Purdue pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Boilermakers like to play two quarterbacks — David Blough and Elijah Sindelar. Blough is smaller and more of a true spread quarterback, while Sindelar is bigger and possesses the stronger arm. Purdue’s top receiver, Anthony Mahoungou, is from Paris, France, and Purdue’s tight ends have a combined 27 catches for 480 yards and five touchdowns. Nebraska has generally defended tight ends well this season, but don’t be surprised if NU’s pass defense struggles, even with the return of safeties Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed. It’s been a soft spot all year — opponents complete a whopping 67.1 percent of their passes — and Brohm’s schemes work.
Purdue struggles in the return game, ranking among the Big Ten’s worst in kickoff and punt returns. The Boilermakers have also missed five field goals and an extra point. Both teams like their touchbacks and unreturned punts, but NU is just a little bit better with JD Spielman and De’Mornay Pierson-El as returners.
Since Purdue started playing Nebraska in 2013, the Huskers have had their odd struggles in this game. Even the 44-7 win in 2013 and the 35-14 win in 2014 were uglier than the final margin suggested. Purdue pulled the 55-45 upset in 2015 and stuck with Nebraska last season. Purdue’s ability to create turnovers — 15 takeaways so far this year — should ring some alarm bells for the Huskers. Though it’s a night game at Purdue, which should draw a good home crowd, this is preferable to the rainy, empty stadium that greeted NU in 2015. Nebraska may actually feed off a decent crowd.
Key matchup: Nebraska’s offensive line vs. Purdue’s defensive front seven
The Huskers can take a page out of Michigan’s book and try some power football at the Boilermakers. Michigan did that and eventually broke Purdue’s back in the second half of a 28-10 win. Purdue has a much-improved defense from last season, but it’s still vulnerable to the big running play, and the longer the season goes, the more tired that bunch will get.
If Nebraska has any aspirations to play in a bowl, this is probably a must-win. A loss to Purdue may sink the Huskers’ confidence for good. The Boilermakers are favored, but that betting line is rooted more in NU’s stinky analytics and middling performances than its potential. If Purdue plays its A game and Nebraska plays its A game, the Huskers are the better team. But NU hasn’t been any better than a C+ this season. What happens in West Lafayette won’t stay there. With new athletic director Bill Moos watching, the Huskers pull one out in overtime and keep their heads above water.
Our prediction: NEBRASKA 27, PURDUE 24
Big Red Today coverage
The Nebraska coaching job can age a man like the American presidency has aged men, and Mike Riley wears all of the three years — and then some — that he’s been at Nebraska. He left a place he knew…
When I see Mike Riley, I see tears. There are any number of images, memories, crammed into Riley’s three years at Nebraska. But I will always go back to Saturday morning, July 30, 2016.
On this Thanksgiving Throwback Thursday, let’s go back to 1938. It was a miserable season by Nebraska standards. With a win and a tie after seven games, coach Biff Jones’ second year in Lincoln was guaranteed to end with the…
Noah Fant has goals for the rest of his football career at Iowa, big enough that they’d make him one of the all-time great Hawkeyes. The sophomore tight end from Omaha South already owns Iowa’s single-season record for touchdown catches…
For Nebraska’s upperclassmen, it’s happening again. A Black Friday game against Iowa. Speculation about the coach. A potential firing. Not easy stuff.
One of Nebraska's most explosive playmakers is the only Husker whose status is in doubt against Iowa for the Black Friday season finale.
UCF coach Scott Frost finished his postgame television interview and made his way toward the tunnel behind the corner of the end zone at Lincoln Financial Field.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker is joined by one of his kids to present the prediction championship belts, give his three keys and a prediction for Nebraska's Black Friday…
Nebraska senior captain and inside linebacker Chris Weber is the latest in a line of Elkhorn High School graduates who joined NU’s team as walk-ons and earned scholarships by their final seasons. Spencer Long, Jake Long, Trevor Roach and Graham…
World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Nov. 14 episode of the "Pick Six Podcast."
Iowa started the month with a shocking 55-24 rout of No. 3 Ohio State. It followed with disappointing losses to Wisconsin (38-14) and Purdue (24-15). With one game left in their regular season, the Hawkeyes (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) are…
Thomas Connely also was a 2017 pick for the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship Teams and has volunteered his time with Uplifting Athletes, Souper Bowl of Caring and local hospital visits.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Tuesday's episode, Carriker makes his official prediction for who will be coaching the Huskers next year.
If and when Riley is replaced, UNL will be paying three current and former football coaches and two athletic directors, all at once.
Cyril Crutchfield called a timeout and motioned for his offense to huddle around him. The St. Augustine High School drumline tapped a cadence into the muggy evening. Air horns chirped and fans danced on the metal bleachers, adding a constant…
Nebraska has been reluctant to embrace having a natural football rival over the years.
De’Mornay Pierson-El kept egging the media on.
Iowa isn't having the season that it expected running the football, but that doesn't leave Nebraska with any less respect for what the Hawkeyes can do on the ground.
Watch live Monday morning beginning at 10:45 a.m. as Nebraska coaches Tim Miles, John Cook and Mike Riley take the podium to discuss their teams.
This series has a chance to be a good rivalry. It’s already got a spark.
On Saturday, longtime Husker fans were picking up groceries at Walmart or Christmas shopping at Westroads Mall instead of settling into the couch in front their flat screen TVs.
Interest might be higher in seeing how many fans show up — and what the red and white vs. black and gold mix is — than the outcome of Iowa and Nebraska's game on Black Friday.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker evaluates who else could be on Nebraska's radar if Scott Frost goes a different route.
If Joe Ganz deserved credit for making the very end of the Bill Callahan era mildly enjoyable, so does Tanner Lee, especially one week after a concussion.
Nebraska's seniors have been on an emotional ride during their time with the Huskers.
Nebraska’s season can be summed in the second quarter Saturday.
World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 20.
The Blackshirts gave up more than 50 points in a game for the third time this season as Nebraska suffered its seventh loss of the year in a 56-44 defeat Saturday at Penn State.
There’s one more game left to play this season, maybe one more game left in Tanner Lee’s limited Nebraska career. But it’s hard to imagine this not being a snapshot we keep of Lee and store wherever it is we’ll…
In a way, it’s lucky. Because at this point in the season, the quarterbacks don’t throw much during practice.