Jacob Bova, Senior Sports Editor: Nebraska 35, Purdue 28
This game is essentially a must-win for Nebraska if it wants to make a bowl game in Scott Frost’s second season. With only four games left, including games against Wisconsin and Iowa, the Huskers are running out of games to get to six wins.
It’s because of this desperation that I think the Huskers will gut out this win. While it is unclear who will start at quarterback for the Huskers, last week showed they have three capable players and it shouldn’t be an issue if Adrian Martinez can’t play. That being said, Martinez said he felt good in practice this week although Frost wouldn’t divulge who will be the starter.
Purdue also has injury issues with star wide receiver Rondale Moore questionable. If he is able to play, that would be a huge boost for a stale Purdue offense led by backup quarterback Jack Plummer.
Plummer and the Purdue offense like to air it out, which is a bad sign for a Husker secondary coming off its worst game of the season against Indiana.
In the end, the Huskers have too much talent to lose this game and the added importance of making a bowl game will ensure that the Huskers are ready to go on Saturday and will get a much-needed win.
Luke Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor: Nebraska 28, Purdue 24
Even for Nebraska fans, this game is a hard one to get excited about. After a blowout loss to Minnesota and a demoralizing defeat to Indiana, it’s fair to question what the team’s mentality will be coming into perhaps the easiest game left on its schedule. I hesitate to write this into existence, but should Nebraska lose this game, a third consecutive 4-8 season looks increasingly likely.
The only good news for Nebraska is that its opponent, Purdue, is having an even worse season. The Boilermaker offense has been devoid of a rushing attack lately, forcing Purdue to average over 40 passing attempts in its last three games. The lack of offensive balance could assist the Husker defense, which was shredded on the ground by Minnesota, and then in the air by Indiana.
I thought Martinez might be healthy enough to start against Minnesota, and then again versus Indiana, but that obviously didn’t happen. Third time’s the charm, I suppose. He should be good to go this week, but his status is not guaranteed. Whether it’s Martinez or Vedral under center, the Huskers should turn to their running game against a defense that allows 168 yards per game on the ground.
It’s crunch time for the Huskers. Frost has spoken extensively about toughness in the past two weeks, and it’ll be a cold day in Indiana which will reveal whether the Huskers have taken that message to heart or not.
Drake Keeler, Assistant Sports Editor: Nebraska 31, Purdue 17
After losing three of their last four games, the Huskers need a win to break that trend and finish the season strong. Purdue provides the perfect opportunity for Nebraska to deliver.
The Boilermakers have had a disappointing season thus far, opening the year with a 34-31 loss to a Nevada team that gave up 77 points the next week. Since then, they have seen a mix of bad luck and poor play. Purdue currently sits at 2-6, including 1-4 in conference play.
The Boilermakers have been hit with the injury bug as well. Starting senior quarterback Elijah Sindelar has been out since Sept. 28 due to injury, while explosive sophomore receiver Rondale Moore injured his hamstring on the same play and has been out since. Moore has a chance to return against Nebraska, but even if he does play, he won’t be 100%.
Meanwhile, Nebraska has had some good injury news lately. True freshman all-purpose back Wan’Dale Robinson returned against Indiana after suffering a leg injury against Minnesota, and was a bright spot in the loss.
It seems as if Martinez will return as well after missing the last two games with an undisclosed lower body injury. Then again, that’s what I thought the last two games. It looks more likely that he will play this Saturday, as he was almost sent in against the Hoosiers and said at Tuesday’s media availability that he feels ready to play. If he does start, he will make Nebraska’s offense that much more dangerous.
If there is one thing the Huskers have to worry about, it’s Purdue’s passing game. The Blackshirts struggled against Indiana’s passing attack, and will face another good passing team this weekend. The Boilermakers pass the ball more than any other Big Ten team, and are second in the conference in passing yards.
However, their efficiency has dropped since Plummer has taken over. Plummer has thrown six interceptions so far this season, and went 8-20 with 71 passing yards and an interception in the Boilermakers’ loss to Illinois last week.
Despite the Blackshirts’ struggles, the Huskers should be able to do enough to come out on top.