Jacob Bova, Senior Sports Editor: Indiana 38, Nebraska 31
The bye week came at a perfect time for the Huskers as they have been banged up with injuries and are dealing with a lot of adversity. The problem is it was only one week, which may not be enough time to fix all those issues.
On the injury front, Adrian Martinez and Wan’Dale Robinson are both game-time decisions and would be huge losses if they can’t play.
The more concerning area, though, is where this team’s mental state is at. After getting physically dominated their last time out, the Huskers will have that in the back of their minds when they come out of the tunnel on Saturday. Add that on top of the absence of running back Maurice Washington, who will be away from the team for the foreseeable future, and this team looks to be filled with drama.
There is a sense that this team has no direction, and without a good group of leaders to point them the right way, this season could be heading down the wrong path.
Indiana’s offense is one of the best Nebraska has faced, and after what Minnesota did to the Blackshirt defense, Indiana could do as much damage. In the end, I think Nebraska will come out flat and fall behind early and will consistently be a few points back until the final whistle blows.
Luke Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor: Nebraska 40, Indiana 30
Two weeks ago, I thought Adrian Martinez might be healthy enough to lead Nebraska to a big road victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. That certainly didn’t happen, and even three weeks after suffering an injury against Northwestern, Martinez’s status is still uncertain. Once again, I’ll assume he’s ready to go, but if he doesn’t play this week, Nebraska’s chances of victory drop.
Perhaps it is due to fear of turnovers or a lack of game experience, but when sophomore Noah Vedral is in at quarterback, Nebraska’s play-calling has turned increasingly conservative. Quarterback draws and Robinson’s explosiveness have both been heavily relied on during Vedral’s time as a starter, but production hasn’t come anywhere close to the offense’s ceiling with Martinez.
This game should come down to a battle of offenses, and that’s why Martinez’s health is so important. After all, the Hoosier defense has allowed big days to all the best offenses its played, including a 40-point effort from Michigan State despite the Spartans only averaging 12 points per game against other Power 5 oppositions. Nebraska’s defense has been reeling lately, and it may need a big day from the offense to keep things close.
This is a big one for the Huskers, because there’s a huge difference between being 5-3 and 4-4 with games against Wisconsin and Iowa left on the schedule. If Martinez plays, Nebraska should have enough talent to pick up the crucial victory, but if he’s on the sidelines for another week, NU’s bowl chances may be much slimmer.
Drake Keeler, Assistant Sports Editor: Nebraska 35, Indiana 31
As seems to be the case every weekend, the result of this game will be very telling.
Through seven games this year, the Huskers have failed their biggest tests. With a chance for revenge against Colorado, Nebraska came up short. Under the national spotlight against Ohio State, the Huskers failed miserably, lowering the expectations of many in the process. Then, they were embarrassed again against Minnesota.
Coming off a bye week to rest, refocus and allow key players to heal up, winning this game is crucial to Nebraska’s bowl hopes.
This time, the Huskers will deliver at home and take down the Hoosiers.
Much of this prediction relies on the assumption that Martinez will be ready to play. Although Vedral wasn’t terrible last week, it was clear that the Husker offense takes a steep drop without Martinez. If Martinez comes out and plays, Nebraska’s offense will have a good chance to return to form against an average Hoosier defense.
However, the Blackshirts, who will be wearing black alternate uniforms, will be the key to the game. Indiana’s quarterback situation isn’t clear either, as freshman starter Michael Penix Jr. is a game-time decision. Even if junior backup Peyton Ramsey has to play, the Hoosier passing attack is still dangerous.
The Husker pass defense has quietly played well this year, ranking in the top 50 in the NCAA in passing yards allowed and ranking fourth in the Big Ten in interceptions. On the other hand, Indiana’s defense is the second-worst in the conference at forcing turnovers.
If the Blackshirts come out and force a few turnovers from whoever starts at quarterback for the Hoosiers, Nebraska should be able to squeeze out another close conference win at home.