Nebraska (4-1) at Purdue (1-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500) -- West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Nebraska 4-1, Purdue 1-2. Away Record: Nebraska 0-0, Purdue 0-2. Neutral Record: Nebraska 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Nebraska 1-0, Purdue 0-1. Series Record: Purdue leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Cornhuskers will hit the road for the first time this season as they pay a visit to Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday afternoon to tangle with the Purdue Boilermakers in Big Ten Conference play.
Nebraska began its season with five straight home games and won four of them. The Cornhuskers opened conference play last weekend against Illinois and came away with a 39-19 victory. Three of their next four games will be played in enemy territory.
Meanwhile, Purdue is playing its fourth home game and is looking to snap a four-game slide. The Boilermakers had a bye last week after suffering a 55-24 loss to Northern Illinois a week earlier on Homecoming. Their lone victory of the season came against FCS foe Indiana State more than a month ago, and the Boilermakers are playing their fifth game against a team that has been ranked or received votes this season.
This will be only the second meeting in the all-time series between these two schools. The first meeting occurred in 1958, and the Boilermakers claimed a 28-0 triumph.
Nebraska continues to rely on its strong ground game, as the team ranks ninth nationally in rushing offense with an average of 291.6 rushing yards per tilt. Junior I-back Ameer Abdullah is well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000- yard season and enters the weekend ranked eight nationally with 138.0 yards per game on the ground. Abdullah has scored five times in five games and is averaging a healthy 7.3 yards per tote. His success has taken some pressure off dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez, who is battling a foot injury and is questionable for Saturday's contest.
Last week, he ran wild for a career-high 225 yards to go along with two TDs in the win over Illinois. All told, the Huskers racked up 335 yards on the ground. As a result, quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. was not asked to do a whole lot in his second career start. Still, he completed 8-of-13 passes for 135 yards and two scores.
In addition to their strong running game, the Blackshirts were also strong on the defensive side of the ball as they limited the Illini offense to just 10 points until the final minute of the game. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who had gotten off to a torrid start to the season, threw for only 135 yards on 13-of-26 passing. Redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Rose led the way with 11 tackles, followed by junior safety Corey Cooper with 10. Defensive end Jason Ankrah had an interception to go along with two tackles for loss, while senior defensive back Ciante Evans forced a fumble and recorded two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. After struggling defensively against the likes of Wyoming and UCLA earlier in the season, the Cornhuskers have showed considerable improvement over their last two contests.
Boilermakers first-year head coach Darrell Hazell spent the off week making a quarterback change, announcing that true freshman Danny Etling has replaced fifth-year senior Rob Henry. The move is hardly surprising, considering Henry had thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (four) and the offense ranks 117th in total yards (301.6). He was benched against Northern Illinois after following up an interception that was returned for a touchdown with another pick on the next series. Etling provided a spark off the bench with 241 yards and two TDs on 19-of-39 passing, although he was also intercepted twice and sacked three times. DeAngelo Yancey finished with seven catches for 107 yards in the loss. As a team, Purdue rushed for a season-high 153 yards but starting running back Akeem Hunt had only 37 yards on 11 carries, which was one yard below his season average.
Purdue's issues are certainly not limited to the offensive side of the ball. In four games against FBS competition this season, the Boilermakers have allowed an average of 42.3 points, a figure that would rank 120th in the nation on the season. NIU simply imposed its will, both on the ground and through the air. The Huskies averaged 4.9 yards per carry as a team, while quarterbacks Jordan Lynch and Matt McIntosh combined to complete 19-of-26 passes for 225 yards and four TDs. Purdue failed to generate any takeaways and notched only one sack on the day. Bruce Gaston has two of the team's nine sacks on the season.
Even playing at home, it is tough to imagine Purdue hanging around for very long in this one. With Martinez still banged up, look for Nebraska to lean on its potent ground game again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 58, Purdue 13
10/09 10:38:33 ET