Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers at Purdue
If there was ever a team in need of a break, it was the Nebraska Cornhuskers after a disappointing start to the 2017 season and back-to-back home games in which they were outscored 94-31, giving up ten straight touchdowns at one point.
Now with their bye week behind them, Nebraska (3-4/2-2 Big Ten) sets their sights on the final five games of the season, with a realistic chance of still finishing with as many as seven wins.
Three of those five games are on the road, including Saturday (October 28) night's Big Ten game at Purdue.
The Boilermakers (3-4/1-3 Big Ten) have already matched their win total from last season, and new head coach Jeff Brohm and his staff have really bolstered the defense.
Purdue has one of the conference's ten best tacklers in linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley and, as a unit, have picked off five passes in the last three games.
This Boilermaker defense is coming off a game in which they forced a school record 12 punts against Rutgers.
The one issue where they've been suspect is getting pressure on the quarterback. Purdue has just seven sacks in seven games, which bodes well for Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee, who's had protection issues much of this season.
Gaining yardage hasn't been a problem for the Boilermaker offense. They're averaging 386 yards a game, but that isn't translating into points. They have managed just one touchdown in the last two games, only five in the last four.
Purdue has been rotating quarterbacks, with last year's starter David Blough sharing time with Eli Sindelar. Sindelar has thrown for more yardage, but Blough has thrown more touchdowns.
The Boilermakers will get a boost in their ground game with the expected return of leading rusher Tario Fuller, who has missed the last four games with an injury.
The Cornhuskers have some good news on the injury front as well. The Blackshirt defense is expected to field a healthy secondary for the first time all season. That means the return of safeties Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed, who both missed the Ohio State game two weeks ago.
But the news isn't so good for linebacker Luke Gifford, one of the most consistent performers on defense in 2017. He'll miss the Purdue game with a hip injury.
The news is even worse for running back Tre Bryant. His season is officially over after having knee surgery this week. He's expected to seek a medial redshirt for this season.
Kickoff is 6:30 PM, Saturday in West Lafayette. You can listen live on Information 1000 KSOO.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers', Greg Sharpe, about the match-up with the Boilermakers: