These two teams first met back in 1936, a game that saw the Huskers leave victorious, 13-9. From 1941 to '59, the Big Red couldn't buy a break in the series as Indiana won seven straight. They tied in 1950 at 20 all, but the Hoosiers then ripped off two more wins. Nebraska has won five in a row since with the last victory coming in Bloomington, a 27-22 affair three years ago.
Scott Frost's 2019 Nebraska team has seen a rocky start to theirBig Ten slate. The current average winning score for the Huskers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) in conference play is 27.5-24, while the losses are a staggering 41-7. As if you needed any further evidence that Nebraska’s officially getting into "must-win" territory.
In his third full season as the Hoosiers' head man, Tom Allen sports a 15-17 overall record but his team needs just one more win to secure a bowl berth. Even though IU is 6-16 in Big Ten play under Allen, Nebraska cannot take this game lightly, as the Hoosiers have the ability to confuse opponents on offense and score in a hurry.
Indiana at Nebraska
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Nebraska -2.5
When Indiana Has the Ball
Similar to Nebraska, we have no idea who will be taking snaps for the Hoosiers. Oft-injured starter Michael Penix Jr. is a game-time decision, while Peyton Ramsey remains ready in relief. Versus Maryland, Ramsey went 20-for-27 passing for 193 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, at least on paper, Nebraska will get minor relief. While Stevie Scott III has racked up 553 rushing yards and six touchdowns through seven games, he’s a single back to focus on. Minnesota featured a horde of quality running backs with which to batter the Blackshirt front seven. Scott will be just as wily as Illinois’ Reggie Corbin, though. Nebraska was largely able to clamp down on the Illini’s rushing attack, but they allowed far too much yardage for comfort in a high-scoring, mistake-filled tilt.
Whop Philyor, Donavan Hale, and Nick Westbrook all provide quality wideout options with tight end Peyton Hendershot ready to help switch things up at a moment's notice.
The Blackshirts will wear duds celebrating their history this week along with the rest of the team. With outside linebacker play being sketchy at best, Garrett Nelson could take some snaps away from Caleb Tannor at outside linebacker. With JoJo Domann playing as well as he is, watch for him to get as many snaps as possible. Nebraska’s secondary has been the defense’s strength, but either Indiana quarterback offers a running threat. The Huskers can’t afford to bring too much heat for the entire game. Look for Cam Taylor-Britt and Braxton Clark as potential big play opportunists.
When Nebraska Has the Ball
Will it be Adrian Martinez or Noah Vedral starting for the Big Red? No one really knows, and true freshman Luke McCaffrey is an option, after all. Martinez has been seen sporting a familiar look from 2018 by wearing a knee brace.
With Maurice Washington no longer part of the roster, running back by committee seems likely. Dedrick Mills leads that charge, while Wyatt Mazour looks to rebound from a concussion. He’s on even footing with true freshman Rahmir Johnson, who’s already played in two games this year, and redshirt freshman Brody Belt.
Wan’Dale Robinson is likely out, meaning the necessity to scrounge up playmakers not named J.D. Spielman is bigger than ever. Kade Warner is one of the most reliable receivers on the roster but is by no means a consistent deep threat. This is a game that offers major opportunities for players like Kanawai Noa, Jaevon McQuitty, and Mike Williams. Indiana ranks seventh in pass defense during Big Ten games at 181.3 yards per game, but an injury-riddled secondary could open the door for the Huskers to excel through the air.
As has been the case all season long, the offensive line will define Nebraska’s progress. Guard Broc Bando saw time versus Minnesota but remains a backup on the official depth chart. Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden will help secure the Hoosier front seven along with defensive linemen Demarcus Elliott and Michael Ziemba.
Before the season began, there was no real consensus on how this game would go down. As of today, Indiana knows what they're capable of and the Huskers do not. If the Hoosiers come off as some ho-hum team from the Big Ten East, think again. They’re currently projected to be in the conversation for a respectable bowl game. The Huskers are far from guaranteed one at all.
With two weeks to prepare and the removal of what could’ve been a major distraction in Washington, the Big Red might be ready to bounce back in style to claim their fifth win. However, Nebraska is still a team full of question marks. If they are going to be victorious, the Blackshirts will have to provide a similar effort displayed versus Northwestern. In a toss-up, going with the team that’s comfortable in its own skin is the smart move.