Last week’s loss to Northwestern was disappointing in so many ways and if Nebraska’s going to make a bowl game, it has all of four contests left to stamp a ticket. Plenty of 6-6 teams have to worry about being on a bubble, but a school that brings fans (and their cash) like Nebraska is hard for any bowl committee to turn down.
Not only that, but the getting the opportunity for more practice would be invaluable for the Big Red. It’s not going to be easy to get three wins out of the remaining games, but their mission to go at least 3-1 begins in West Lafayette.
Nebraska at Purdue
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Spread: Nebraska -9
Three Things to Watch
1. Ryker Fyfe
Tommy Armstrong’s been walking around in a boot for most of practice this week which means No. 17 gets his first start as a Husker. During spring and fall practices, Fyfe was streaky, but he could hit short to intermediate passes.
The long ball is an area of extreme struggle for Fyfe (not unlike Armstrong when his confidence is low). This is a game where he’s going to have to let his receivers help him move the ball via the passing game.
Depending on how he looks versus Purdue, talk of a quarterback controversy may pop up, especially if Nebraska wins big.
2. Offensive Play-Calling
Purdue is ranked No. 99 in rushing defense, giving up 198 yards on the ground; and the 229 yards surrendered through the air gives the Boilermakers a No. 77 ranking.
If Nebraska can manage even decent run blocking against Darrell Hazell’s team, the Big Red should be able to put a good number of points on the board. Perhaps we see the return of Devine Ozigbo this week.
Fyfe’s best work in the passing game has come on rollouts, so I’d expect to see plenty of that worked into the passing game and hopefully less of a determined effort to get the screen game going. This is a time where Danny Langsdorf simply must go with what he has seen work.
3. Apathy (or Lack Thereof)
If you need to see why apathy gets mentioned, have a look at my piece on a potential youth movement following this contest. The first video shows some of the worst run blocking I’ve seen.
Is the effort shown against Northwestern going to carry over against Purdue, or can this upperclassman offensive line play for pride (and more importantly the win)?
If the Huskers are going to make that coveted bowl game, this is probably the last game close to a sure-win as any left on the schedule. They face Michigan State then travel to Rutgers and finally get their first bye week of the season before taking on a surging Iowa squad.
Forget the bowl game for a minute. For the sake of morale, this game needs to be won. Ideally the Huskers can do so by a nice margin, but at this juncture, even victory by a point is acceptable.