Game Day: Nebraska vs. Purdue

Wake-up call

Slow starts continue to doom the Huskers. It's an alarming trend they'll need to snap out of to end this losing streak. Will Nebraska answer the wake-up call against Purdue?

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Purdue rush defense

In a strange anomaly, Nebraska’s run game has struggled against Purdue. NU has averaged 3.52 yards on more than 200 carries in five games since 2013, bottoming out last season with 40 yards on 27 measly attempts. The Boilermakers have successfully slowed down pro-style offenses in recent years, and its grounding of Boston College last week was impressive. Safety Jacob Thieneman and linebackers Derrick Barnes and Cornel Jones are active and tough. Purdue’s run defense has struggled more against spread offenses, and Nebraska is armed with the best running quarterback Purdue has faced this season. Nebraska has to run Adrian Martinez as much as necessary, then get better performances from running backs Greg Bell and Devine Ozigbo, who didn’t get many chances at Michigan. NU’s offensive line has to step up. It hasn’t since Colorado.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Purdue pass defense

Purdue likes to keep its safeties back in coverage to prevent deep passes. If they creep up to slow down NU’s run game, Martinez should have a few chances to throw over Purdue’s mediocre cornerbacks. Last season — in a very different offense — Tanner Lee dissected the middle of Purdue’s defense, which was much better than this version. The Boilermakers’ pass rush doesn’t get home much unless they bring extra guys. But Nebraska’s receivers haven’t been great, either. The Huskers have to get more out of their tight ends and backups behind Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman.

Purdue rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

NU’s run defense was aces until a collapse of gap discipline and tackling at Michigan. Purdue isn’t going to have three tight ends on the field often — if ever — but Boilermaker backs DJ Knox and Markell Jones are every bit as good as Michigan’s. Freshman receiver Rondale Moore can also smoke a defense on a jet sweep. NU’s front seven should be in more familiar territory facing an offense similar to its own. Purdue quarterback David Blough will occasionally be involved in zone-read plays, but he’s more of a scrambler than a stud runner.

Purdue pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Nebraska could take it on the chin here. Purdue’s spread attack, run by the veteran Blough, averages 318.3 passing yards per game. Moore, a receiver built like former Husker Ameer Abdullah, already has 33 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll line up everywhere. Tight ends Brycen Hopkins and Cole Herdman have NFL potential, and Nebraska may not have an outside linebacker who can easily cover them. Blough is a gamer who will start his fourth game against NU. Nebraska’s defense can get home with a pass rush, but it'll probably have to lean on man-to-man coverage to do it. Purdue is a tough cover.

Special teams

Nebraska’s special teams are a tire fire, and until NU gets back to mere mediocrity, every opponent will have the advantage. Purdue has Moore, a live wire in the return game, but kicker Spencer Evans has missed three field goals and two extra points.

Intangibles

How good can Nebraska feel about home-field advantage right now? It’s better than playing on the road, but the crowd will be nervous at kickoff, waiting to see anything good after that mess at Michigan. NU’s first-quarter starts have been awful, turnovers are an issue and Purdue has momentum after a big win over ranked Boston College. Nebraska will have to make its own luck.

Key matchup: Nebraska’s personal standard vs. Its inability to live up to expectations

Husker football has to start building from the ground up, creating good habits and playing soundly, regardless of the opponent. When and if Nebraska does that — this week, or the next, or the next – is when the season starts to turn.

Our take

Scott Frost isn’t panicking, nor should he. His team, if it follows his lead, will carry itself better Saturday and start creating an identity behind its strengths — a very talented running quarterback and a solid front seven on defense. Is that enough to beat Purdue, which despite its many weaknesses — especially against the pass — knows its identity? Nebraska will have to prove it first. The Huskers have the talent and the offense to beat the Boilermakers, and they beat a better Purdue team last year. Is Nebraska better than last year? That’s what we don’t know yet.

Our prediction: PURDUE 31 NEBRASKA 27

Live updates

Photos

World-Herald game action »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Purdue matchup provided by the Husker 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 Red Today coverage

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez are Big Ten rivals, but they 'can also be friends'

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez spent perhaps five minutes talking about Black Friday. After that, the Iowa and Nebraska quarterbacks got to know each other and become friends.

At Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Tom Osborne shows his pride in Scott Frost and Adrian Martinez

Former Nebraska coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne was honored at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

Huskers' Jack Stoll makes Mackey Award preseason watch list for best tight end

Nebraska junior Jack Stoll made the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's best tight end.

Adrian Martinez handles turbulence the same way he does interviews — calm, cool and collected

The first session of Big Ten media days included Ohio State and Michigan State, but the story of Day 1 was Adrian Martinez and the Huskers.

Video: Scott Frost, Husker players at Big Ten media days

Scott Frost discussed Nebraska's 2019 expectations, where the Huskers are actively recruiting, Adrian Martinez's leadership and more at Big Ten media days on Thursday.

Shatel: Scott Frost may ignore the hype, but there's a reason it follows him wherever he goes

Nebraska went 4-8 last year, right? You’d never know it by hanging around the Chicago Hilton this week.

'Half of defense is energy, enthusiasm and hustle.' Blackshirts feel they've improved all three

The Blackshirts look back on their first year under Scott Frost and barely recognize the unit that finished among the worst in the country in most major statistical categories.

Big Ten notes: West coaches see improving division; Teams with unproven quarterbacks

Three coaches of Big Ten West schools spoke at Thursday’s Big Ten media days. All agreed their division is unquestionably on the rise.

Husker notes: Hoping for a healthy Cameron Jurgens; Transfers could be impact players

A full-go season from the converted offensive lineman would go a long way for the Huskers.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 19 Kanawai Noa

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Scott Frost says Huskers will 'wait and see' before making decision on Maurice Washington

Nebraska has yet to make a decision on the status of running back Maurice Washington, and coach Scott Frost said that could continue to be the case all the way until the Aug. 31 season opener.

In his final media day, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany touts positive future as he bids farewell

After Delany’s opening statement — dedicated to thanking his family, staff and various partners of the league — reporters had plenty of blue collar, bottom-line questions for the commish.

Former Husker De'Mornay Pierson-El signs for second stint with Oakland Raiders

Pierson-El had previously joined the Raiders for a few weeks in April before getting waived.

UNLV assistant, former Husker Barney Cotton on waiting list for heart transplant

Barney Cotton will not coach for UNLV this season due to health concerns.

Husker football facilities are 'functional' but 'don't fit the mold' of what Scott Frost is building

While the Huskers’ current setup is “perfectly functional,” Frost said Thursday at Big Ten media days, he gets why there are conversations to build a new facility.

Complete transcript of Husker coach Scott Frost's appearance at Big Ten media day

A complete transcript of Nebraska coach Scott Frost's appearance at the main podium during Big Ten media day.

Nebraska's JD Spielman on Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's best receiver

Spielman is coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 66 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.

'The hype is good': Bill Moos bullish for second year of Husker football under Scott Frost

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos wants all the preseason praise the media wants to give Husker football in year two of the Scott Frost era.

Big Ten media days: Scott Frost praises Adrian Martinez. 'I wouldn't trade our guy for anybody'

Scott Frost made it to the podium to take some questions at Big Ten media days. Here's what he had to say.

McKewon: Elusive on-field success, Jim Delany's last go-round and 8 other storylines at Big Ten media days

Even if the money is rolling in for each conference team, on-field success — be it in CFP berths or Heisman Trophy winners — has been elusive. Commissioner Jim Delany won’t have to address those issues much longer.

Bland: Husker Hype in Chicago, national media meets Adrian Martinez and more Big Ten storylines

As a tidal wave of expectations continues to rise for the Nebraska football season, at least one question will find an answer Thursday at Big Ten media days.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 20 Ben Stille

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Big Ten summer series: Nebraska-Wisconsin among 12 games to circle on the calendar

They’re the games you circle on the Big Ten calendar for their implications in the league race ... or just because they might be fun.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 21 Damion Daniels

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Nebraska DBs coach Travis Fisher touts true freshmen, newfound maturity of Husker secondary

Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher won't limit the potential of his four freshman defensive backs one bit before their first training camp.

Pick Six Podcast: All eyes on Adrian Martinez, Scott Frost and Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Former Husker kicker Alex Henery reminisces about favorite punts, the Colorado kick and more

Alex Henery is set to join three other Husker greats in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this fall. But first he joined host Mike'l Severe and "The Bottom Line" on Tuesday.

Nebraska's Adrian Martinez, Mohamed Barry selected for preseason watch lists

Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry became the second player in two days to be named to a preseason watch list.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 22 Mike Williams

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Overall ratings for every former Husker in the Madden 20 video game

There are 26 former Nebraska players on the game at launch, with enough at each position to field a starting 11 on both sides of the ball.